From Oslo I flew to London, caught a bus from Gatwick to Heathrow and flew to Iceland via Icelandic air, their service was nice.
I stayed 5 nights in the HI hostel, a little out from the center, but it was a nice hostel, got all the amenities and I met some nice people there. One big problem, I caught bed bugs there, though nothing too bad.
I’ve always wanted to see Iceland, always. I think it’s kind of like Australia to Europeans, it’s so far away, almost mystical, a strange land with strange landscape, Iceland was somewhere I really wanted to see with my own eyes. Jady told me great stories about the place too. With Bjork and Sigur Ros’s strange but wonderful music, I figured it must be something in the air, in the water, something in Iceland that inspires them and perhaps it might inspire me too.
Iceland was the 3rd Nordic country I visited, Icelandic the language sounded stronger than German, Swedish and Norwegian, sounds hard and tough and weathered, a bit like their people.
I took the long walk to the center, about 45 minutes, poking my head around the suburban streets. Rejkyavik isn’t so big, but it’s very spread out, to live here, you’d definitely need a car. The center had an interesting council building, I think it was the council building, I can’t quite remember. It had a pond at ground level, several blocks of buildings covered in moss and other unidentifiable growth. Many a ducks were in the pond. Behind the building was an artificial lake, with many more ducks in it.
Those are birds in the sky, not dust on my sensor u___u
I went to the national history museum, learnt more about the Vikings and pre-viking celts and posed a silly self portrait with a Viking helmet and shield and sword. Cheesy, yes, fun, also yes. The museum attendant saw me and offered to take the photo for me, I was too embarrassed and declined.
Afterwards I walked around the center a bit, saw this how to tie and tie mural. The center is small, nice town, the weather was always gloomy though.
I booked a day trip through the hostel called “Fire and Ice”. Indeed it didn’t disappoint, it was fire and ice. It was the best day I had in Iceland, highlight of the trip.
Got picked up at the hostel by a mid aged lady, our guide, in a big 4 wheel drive, picked up a few more guests from other hotels and off we went. In our group was 2 Swedish ladies, an Canadian couple and me. First off we drove to a mountain range about 1.5 hours from Reykjavik. I borrowed some proper hiking shoes, they were a size too small, but they had no others, this turned out quite terrible, I got horrible horrible blisters on both my ankles, they were very painful and took weeks to heal.
Off we went to hike for 2 hours, it drizzled constantly and I shot with the OM2 mostly and didn’t want to get the 5D out much. The 50mm f1.8 ended up with too much water in it, got all fogged up and when it dried it left water marks, shame, it turned out to be a good lens.
We saw so many wonderful things, many bubbling mud holes, lots of steam coming out of everywhere, strong smell of sulfur everywhere. The hike wasn’t easy, many ups and downs, parts where the path is right next to low cliffs, muddy everywhere. They have a joke in Iceland: What do you do if you get lost in a forest in Iceland? Stand up. Iceland has moss and shrubs, no trees. Seeing this extraordinary landscape really does make you understand that the whole of Iceland is just a big chunk of lava. The earth was black, the moss barely clinging on, though they have over 100 varieties of moss in Iceland. Our guide said first there’s moss, the moss turns to mud and other vegetations get their chances then.
Bubble bubble, they make “plop plop” noises too
Our guide and the Swedish ladies
The guide and the Swedish ladies spotted wild blueberries, red blueberries and bilberries. I tried them all, yummy! Blueberries have blue skin but are white inside, but red blueberries were a reddish purple inside, they tasted sweeter.
At the end of our hike we came to 2 natural stream. 1 is cold water melted from the glaciers, 1 is hot water from underground. The 2 streams form into 1 creating the perfect natual bath. Hell, you can even choose your temperature by wadding up or downstream a little. Since there was only 1 guy in the group, we sent him below the hill while we got changed and yelled out to him when we settled comfortably in the stream. We were in there for 20 minutes, wasn’t easy to get out. But when we got out, we didn’t even feel cold naked, the water heated us through and through. By the way, this was Iceland in late summer, early autumn and it was bloody cold!
Hot stream on top, cold stream on right, bath water on left 😀
Stinky steam everywhere
Me in front of walls of steam
We ate lunch in the car while driving to the next location, ice. I finally changed to hiking shoes my size, put on waterproof pants and a raincoat, laced up spikes to my shoes, got handed an ice pick and we were to hike on a glacier. The glacier is called Langjorkull, it’s the 2nd largest in Iceland and it was beautiful and alive, constantly growing or shrinking and moving about. The crisp sound the spikes made on the glacier, the sheer beauty of the glacier, it was magical, it all made me want to run around and giggle like a little girl. Utterly amazing! Loved it, loved every second on the glacier.
It rained hard, so I shot only with the OM2, which broke the lens. Our guide taught us how to walk on the glacier properly, each step you make, you need to stomp, to make sure the spikes are throughly wedged into the ice so you got enough grip. Walk slowly and stomp hard. Then she made all of us hike up this steep hill, when it’s steep, you use only the front half of your spikes, kicking forward and down, wedging half your shoe into the ice. Once we got onto the hill slowly one by one, then came the hard part. She made us go down the hill. It’s always easier going up a moutain than down, same on ice mountains. To go down you need to get into a sitting position, put your balance on your thighs and lean backwards, stomp the back half of your spikes into the ice. Step by stomp, remember to lean backwards. It wasn’t so easy, I lost my balance at one point and nearly fell, but made it down alright.
The glacier is thin at some points you can see the black lava in or under the ice, thick at other points. Our guide showed us many crevasses in the glacier, they were light blue, abstract, beautiful and very dangerous. Some goes a few km deep with many twists and turns, if you fall into 1 you are pretty much dead even if you fall to the bottom alive, there’s simply no way of getting you out.
Muahahahahaha, don’t give a girl an ice pick and not except evil thoughts or actions…
These were shot with the OM2 on Ilford SFX
Glacier surface and my shoes
On the way back we stopped by a big waterfall where you can walk around the back of it. Then we drove back to Rejkyavik, the guide/driver was falling asleep, so the Candian girl had to keep talking to her. The guide told us many stories about Icelandic faeries, they are meant to live in big rocks. You need to be nice to the rocks, because the faeries can bring you fortune or bad luck or worse. Some interesting fairytales.
This was a magical day, I decided I loved Iceland then.
I went on the golden circle tour, it was ok, it was a big bus full of tourists, some of them loud and annoying, but I met a nice Japanese girl and a nice Iranian girl, both traveling by themselves too.
We saw some geysirs, one of which is the most reliable in Iceland, blowing water every 6 minutes, pretty much on the dot. We saw the ancient Viking parliament site, one of the oldest democratic governments in the world. It’s situated with a mountain by its back, a lake by its front and right on the Europe and Asia divide line. Pretty dramatic huh! Fun fact: Iceland is the only place on earth that is on the Eurasia divide line and above water.
Geysir before exploding
Look at it go!
Click click click
Then we saw the thermo electricity plant. Very exciting, Iceland produces70% of its energy via renewable sources. They drill big holes into the ground and use the steam to produce electricity. They take the natural hot water and supply it at 83 degrees celcius to Rejkyavik for indoor heating, they loose only 1 or 2 degrees on the way. They supply filtered natural hot water for household use, for the showers and baths. No wonder the hostel bathroom stank, thanks to the sulfur. They pump cold water back underground so the energy source is fully renewable.
Am I sounding like a tree hugger? Well, I was seriously impressed and they are only getting started with this energy business, now they are exporting this technology all over the world.
Amazing clouds on the way back on the bus
I spent the day exploring Rejkyavik city more. I had lobster soup and mink whale meat for lunch. Lobster soup was nice. Whale is over rated. It tasted by beef, but tougher and not all that tasty. Meh. Please take note that mink whale is not endangered, in Iceland it is fished responsibly.
Whale meat anyone?
Oh I forgot! I did have the best hot dogs I ever had in a little stand in the center somewhere, it was so good I had 2 in a row. Finger licking good.
I walked around the city while listening to Bjork and Sigur Ros on the ipod, I understood their music a little more I think and it melded perfectly well with the open city and the gloomy sky.
Water puddle sillyness
I saw a glove in mud, I took a photo.
Autumn! That was a long time ago.
I spent 4 hours soaking in the blue lagoon. Again, it was astoundinly beautiful, my photos don’t do it justice. The water was pale milky blue, contrasting against the black lava rocks. The water wasn’t translucent, it was opaque, white when you scoop it in your hands. I plied my face with the apparently amazing/skin softening/anti ageing/blah/blah white silica mud natural to the lagoon and soaked til all my fingers were wrinkly. There was a sauna and a steam room, I made use of those. The bathrooms were sparkling clean and comes with free mineral shampoo, conditioner and body wash, talk about luxury.
These photos were taken outside the blue lagoon pool, these bits you can just walk around for free.
The water close up, white silica building up
Black everywhere except the water
These were taken inside the lagoon pool, where you have to pay to get in
I’m sure they heat up the water, see how much steam there is inside comparing to outside
I flew back to London, took a bus to Stansted airport and slept in the aiport as my flight to Munich was at 6.30am the next day. I got no sleep what-so-ever, the seats had arm rests between them and were very uncomfortable. I wasn’t the only 1, you’d be surprised, but there were dozens of people trying to sleep there. The people with sleeping bags just slept on the floor, which looked a hell lot more comfortable.
Moral of the story, don’t sleep in airports, it ain’t good for you.
I’ve been reading Hemingway, I think I’m starting to write like him too…
Next time, Munchen and Octoberfest! Gosh I had a swell time! Stay tuned!