Sunday, 30 September 2012

Iceland part 4 - The north and west

From the eastern fjords we passed through some amazing highlands that are usually lava flows and cairns that mark the way covered in snow.

The Swift faced the challenge well.

The volcanic craters and hot steam vents of the mountains near Myvatn are very photogenic with lots of fumaroles glowing through the snow and providing power to the local grid.

From the back windows of the B and B we stayed in we could see this beautifully shaped crater across the road. (it wasn't noisy)

Walking around the crater was like being inside an Ansel Adams picture.

These wild fomations are from lava cooling at different speeds.

Around the lake there was still loads of snow, frozen ponds and askew power lines as they lay temporary power cable from huge wooden reels.  Gave us an idea for a new reality TV show - Extreme Tradies!  There was definitely enough to occupy our 2 days in Myvatn.

There are more steaming vents and craters than you can poke a stick at.
 Continuing on we visited Godfoss and crossed north over the 66th latitude to visit the cute village of Husavik with it's whale museum having lunch at a cafe on the main street that made awesome Goolash soup.

 For our last night out of Reykjavik we stayed in a cute wooden cabin with our own kitchen at Osar YHA up a dirt road.  In the morning we visited the beach and watched the seals before continuing through more volcano and steep valleys back to the "big smoke".
We made one last attempt at seeing the northern lights on a tour but to no avail.  I suspect they run the tours even if the chance of seeing them is only remote!  :-)  It was all fun and a great week away.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Iceland part 3 - South Coast and East Fjords

The southern coast is a wild array of lava fields, stoney desert and glacier country.
There were strong winds whipping up dust storms that seemed to contain pebbles at times. Lucky we were in a car rather than walking!
 The moss covered lava fields make for interesting textures.
You can see how it get used as a other planet movie set!

Glaciers and amazing basalt pillars that inspired the church in Reykjavik

 At Jökulsárlón a tongue of glacier is receding and has formed a lagoon with icebergs floating in it.  This is a wonderful place.  I think we have almost as many pictures of ice as seals in our archive now.  I'm just including a couple...

The fjords were very pretty as the snow fell dusting the higher areas with snow adding to the effect.  The YHA was excellent there too (in Reyðarfjörður) with kitchen etc which is a great tip for cutting costs and getting veges in although in general I think the bad wrap food outside flash restaurants in Iceland gets is unfair from our experience.

They drive big trucks round here.  Given there was even a section of the national highway that was unpaved, not entirely surprising!  Our little swift did pretty well for the week though. :-)

Iceland Part 2 - Golden Circle to Vick

We spent our week circumnavigating the country mainly along "route 1" which runs around the outside  of the whole country passing many of the greatest hits and giving us plenty to see in a week.
Due to heavy snowfall and storms we elected to go counter-clockwise rather than our initial plan which worked out well.

Heading straight out from Reykjavik we spent our first day around the "golden circle", a sort of greatest hits that is the focus of day trip tourists visiting the capital.

Þingvellir, the site of the original parliament started in 930 and was an amazing open air meeting place until the 1800s.  It is a rift valley at the point where the European and American plates are moving appart by centimetres per year.  An amazing location.

Next stop was Geysir, which gave all of these hot spurting water holes around the world their name.
The swelling of water before it spurts out is very cool.

Finally we saw a series of pretty waterfalls.

  Until we finished in Vik for the night a little town with cute church on the coast with cool cliffs and eroded rocks off the black sand beach.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Iceland - Part 1 Reykjavik

After an action packed first 7 weeks enjoying living and working in Oxford we took our first week away.  We've been enjoying being so close to so many interesting UK and European destinations to explore.  I'll try and tell you more about the focus of our first weeks - southwest England and Wales sometime soon.

Flying in we were lucky enough to see some Aurora which when on to elude us for the rest of the week - Not that we stopped looking!

Reykjavik is the national capital and has that frontier town feel afforded by corrugated iron being the main building material but it is in fact very cosmopolitan and has a very "hipster" stylish food and design scene.

The rocket style cathedral is inspired by basalt columns and is very photogenic day and night, dominating the skyline.

 The Harpa is the cool new concert space and home to the local symphony and opera companies.  The facade and angles are fabulous and are lit by a Olafur Eliasson (of the Weather Project fame) moving LED artwork at night.

 For today I leave you with the Suncraft.  A cool statue echoing Iceland's Viking heritage by the bay.  So many photos, so little time!