Pulled by the VORTEX.....

Trip Start Aug 30, 2007
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Trip End Sep 30, 2007


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Flag of Iceland  ,
Monday, September 24, 2007

We're staying a Jakob's house in Reykjavik for the weekend.  He's a friend we made out at Thorsmorck - he's half Icelandic and half British and a very nice man.  He's got a lot to say and is easy to hang out with.  He describes the changes brought about by the building of Keflavik Airport in the mid 80s and how it really opened up the country to international travel.  Apparently it was built by the Americans (the ring road as well), when they simultaneously built a military airbase for themselves (they cut a deal with the Icelanders).  Iceland has been through some dramatic changes towards modernization over the last century, particularly since WWII.  It's gone from being one of the poorest nations in Europe to being one of the wealthiest.  Seems like a few good business deals having to do with the bottling of some Russian liquor followed by a series of coups in the international banking scene brought bounding prosperity to the country. Tourism is really being pushed here as well as an image of Reykjavik as an ultra-hip place to be.  Jakob takes us out for some of the renowned nightlife.  Every fri and sat nights the clubs are crazy busy.  People dress up - mostly in very dressy black and white with some sequins for shiny accent  - stuff that defies expectation - and they pack the clubs.  Of course it doesn't start till 12 or 1 but they stay open all night and the thing to do is wander from bar to bar - not cool to stay in one place too long.  Lines form outside, that being the indication of the 'place to be'.  In fact places allow lines to form even if they're not full, just to create a rep for themselves.  The streets get wild - lots of noisy drunk people - there used to be so much fighting that they had to stagger closing hours - and it goes on all night. I hear them outside at night as I'm trying to sleep...now this is a town of only 170,000.  But a partying town of 170,000.  In the morning I find a glass on the roof of the rental car with remnants of a White Russian?
 
Ready to get out into the countryside again.  If you ever visit Iceland, I'd recommend you spend as much time as possible out in the country.  Reykjavik's OK but I don't think it's too pretty or worth the trip alone.  But the rest of the country, as I've said, is breathtaking.  So we wake up to a sunny day, rent a car and head out to Snaefellsnes.  It's the site of a renowned energy vortex, the place where Jules Verne dumped his people inside the earth in Journey To the Center of the Earth.  There's an active volcano underneath a glacier way out on the tip of a peninsula that stretches off of the western side of the country.  Great to get out of town and very quickly we see the mountain off on the horizon looking mirage-like...as though it's floating on the horizon - check out the ghost like mountain in the photos.  I'm feeling the vortex already.   Rare and perfect day to go out there.  Three hours and many landforms later we arrive at the town of  Arnastapi which has a permanent pop of 15.  We try to track down a glacier tour...they have these vehicles that take you up on the glacier - see the photo.  But tourist season is over and those 15 people must be avoiding us...  we're on our own here and wander along the high rock-ledged shore that's known for it's formations...these dramatic drops into the ocean...I can only look into them so far - I feel like they're pulling me right down to the water...but it makes for a jaggedy coastline - you can imagine a few shipwrecks along these rocks. Focus back to the glacier - we're so close we can reach out and touch it, so we create our own glacier tour...once again in a tiny car, a Kia not meant for off road driving.  I'm a little reluctant to continue after I hear the nearly smooth tires spitting up stones under the car sounding like they're taking chunks out of the undercarriage as we attempt a climb.  The guy at the rental place clearly told me that I'm responsible for undercarriage damage...guess they've dealt with people doing this before.  But we continue until we get within hiking distance of the ice.  The hike is a COLD one - way colder than when we started down below.  My face is frozen and I'm still trying to touch the glacier.  We're walking through old volcanic ash fields - the rocks you pick up weigh nothing and crumble when you squeeze them.  Really just cemented ash on an undulating landscape.  The view of the valley below is magnificent  and it's now time to return to it.   The energy vortex barely allows us to escape but our will prevails and we head back down the volcano.   Driving all the way around the peninsula gives us a view of all sides of the volcano...classic lava flows reaching down to the sea.  Attempts to capture this stuff with photography is futile.  But I'm taken over and over again by the magnificence of it all.  And I've included at least some imagery for you lava lovers...if it's not your thing, feel free to pass those by.  But come see for yourselves because that's where the power lies. 
 
It's back to Reykjavik, over the mountain pass, around fjords and into the city, back to Setta's now.  She's our couchsurfing friend in town....we're staying with her for our final days...her and her mischevious, but very charming cat, Freya. 
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Comments

RehaSana on

Thank you for such an amazing commentary of Iceland. After reading this and seeing the pictures anyone would want to go there!

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