Friday June 10th
I needed recovery time after the trip to see the puffins (see last blog for more details). I did absolutely nothing all morning, except a quick trip to the supermarket. I realised that many of the vegetables and fruit are grown in geothermal greenhouses. The heat is pumped up from underground, all that the plants need is a bit of light, and tadaah! Icelandic strawberries are a thing. According to my sister, Icelandic chocolate is also a thing, so I bought some to give as gifts when we get home.
We drove to see a recent (2021) eruption at Fagradalsfjall, about an hour from the city. The volcano had been dormant for 800 years, though the geologists had guessed it might erupt when they started measuring new activity. I expect being a geologist is rather an essential job in Iceland. The puffin island has a whole town that was covered by lava in the 70’s, which has now become bit of a tourist attraction. I’m not sure what it must be like, living somewhere that you know is relatively unstable. Perhaps you simply don’t think about it.
As we drove towards Fagradalsfjall I could see the mountain, it looked as if a giant had tipped black oil all over it, lines of black running down the sides. We parked in a grey gravel carpark, and began to follow signs. But the walk to the lava was long and steep, so we gave up.
Drove to where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. This is so not something that I understand—I remember the theory, that the earth is covered in massive plates of rock that are moving too slowly to see, and that when they rub against each other we get earthquakes—but faced with two walls of rock, my head cannot quite link the two. The area looked like a moonscape. More grey rubble.
We saw more hot springs, and a lava cove with great waves crashing onto them. Iceland is fascinating, but there’s nothing cosy about it.
Saturday 11th June
Spurred on by the excitement of seeing tectonic plates meeting, Husband suggested we drove ‘The Golden Circle.’ This is named after a waterfall, and is a circular route (obviously) that passes a few major highlights. It’s an 186 mile loop. I worried about whether there would be toilets, and decided not to drink anything all day.
First stop was Thingvellir National Park. (This is an anglicised spelling, as it actually begins with a strange p/b letter.) The park has the first parliament (which we didn’t see) and another rift valley between plates, which was very dramatic and was used in The Game of Thrones. We saw Oxararfoss waterfall, plus some toilets and expensive parking.
We drove across the plain, with snowy mountains in the distance, while Husband muttered about the speed limit. At Haukadalur geothermal field we saw all the interesting hot springs/bubbling mud stuff that we have seen previously, but slightly bigger and better organised in terms of paths and signs. I stayed on the walkways this time. There was also a geyser, Strokkur, which erupted every 10 minutes. It was a large pool of water, steam floating on the surface, and it sort of ‘lifted’ for a moment, before erupting in a giant plume of boiling water. Amazing.
We finished our drive at Gullfoss, the ‘golden’ waterfall. It was huge, a great mass of water tumbling into a valley.
There were carparks, with toilets, at every stop, so dehydration was unnecessary.
Hope you have all that you need today. Take care.
Love, Anne x
I tried to learn 2 Chronicles 7:14 while in Iceland. How much of it have you managed to remember? Read it again to refresh your memory:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
וְיִכָּנְעוּ עַמִּי אֲשֶׁר נִֽקְרָא־שְׁמִי עֲלֵיהֶם וְיִֽתְפַּֽלְלוּ וִֽיבַקְשׁוּ פָנַי וְיָשֻׁבוּ מִדַּרְכֵיהֶם הָרָעִים וַאֲנִי אֶשְׁמַע
מִן־הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶסְלַח לְחַטָּאתָם וְאֶרְפָּא אֶת־אַרְצָֽם׃