TRAVELOGUE
Iceland

Thingvellir, Gullfoss

Good morning! It's a cloudy morning and that's the way it's going to stay the whole day. The breakfast was great, we liked everything we tried. The only thing we were missing was an espresso, so it took me a bit longer to wake up completely.

Hallgrimskirkja
Hallgrimskirkja

The morning destination is Hallgrimskirkja, the most famous church in Reykjavik. It's not an old church - in fact, nothing in Reykjavik looks old. All buildings in the city look like they have just been painted. And in very lively colors. The church is very modern, it's possible to get to the top of the tower and have a rest there in comfortable armchairs.

Thingvellir
Thingvellir

We drove in direction of Thingvellir, the nearby national park. While driving, we spotted a fracture in the ground and stopped the car to take a look at it. It was 1 m wide, some 10 m deep and - very long. As Iceland is located on the boundary of two tectonic plates, the American and the European, which are moving away from one another by 2 cm yearly, this fracture in the ground continually widens.

The canyon
The canyon

Down the road we were surprised by a real small canyon, in which one can walk in. The walls of the canyon were 20 m high. A bit further, under a cliff near the lake Thingvellir, there is Althing - the place where in 920 the chiefs of Icelandic tribes gathered to bring laws and regulations, therefore creating the first European parliament. In the 13th century Iceland fell under Norway and later under Denmark, so Althing lost most of its power until 1944, when Iceland regained independence. There's an Icelandic flag waving here.

We drive on a dirt road in direction of Haukadalur. We'd rather have a jeep here, but renting one on Iceland costs a fortune. Haukadalur is a geothermal field with different interesting things to see. One of them are fumaroles - holes in the ground from which water vapor is coming out, producing a funny sound. Then, there are ponds of hot water with bulbs of water vapor, something that looks like boiling water in a can.

Strokkur geyser
Strokkur geyser

The third and the most interesting type of geothermal phenomenon are geysers. The most famous among them is *the* Geyser, after which the phenomenon got its name. It was able to launch water up to 90 m high. It's lately inactive. I approached its 3 m wide crater; its color is azure. His younger brother is Strokkur, launching water every 5-10 minutes up to 30 m high. All these activities are caused by magma in the depth of the earth's ground - depending on the configuration of the ground, one of three types of phenomenon occurs.

Gullfoss waterfall
Gullfoss waterfall

We've had a good vegetable soup in a nearby restaurant (in Iceland vegetable is grown in plastic containers heated by the hot geothermal water). We continued in direction of Gullfoss, a waterfall that's a big tourist attraction here. *** All the geographical names on Iceland are composite words consisting of a "proper" name and the type of what is described (as "foss" means "waterfall", every waterfall's name is "...foss", every sandy beach "...sandur" etc.).

The inactive volcano Kerid
The inactive volcano Kerid

As Željka loves volcanoes we went to Visit Kerid, a small inactive volcano in whose crater there is a small green lake, reachable by foot. Then we tried to reach Hekla, one of still active volcanoes. We came to some 15 km from Hekla, but could not get any closer because the continuing road was passable only by jeep.

The day was still cloudy and we were in the southwest of Iceland, on the way to Thorsmork, one of the most beautiful valleys in Iceland. After 45 minutes of difficult driving on a dirt road we reached the sigh "Lokad - Closed". The road was crossing a creek (there is no bridge) and there was no was to pass. The majority of dirt roads in the interior of Iceland are open only in the period 01.06. - 15.07, then remain closed throughout the long Icelandic winter. The interior of Iceland is completely uninhabited. Usually on the beginning of these roads there's a sign "next gas station: 300 km", or similar. There's no GSM network in the interior (and in some other parts of Iceland, as we found out later) - the interior is covered with the analogue cellular network.

Seljalandsfoss
Seljalandsfoss

We've seen wild Icelandic horses near the roads today. They run freely in the nature, sometimes drop on their backs on the ground and wave their feet in the air. I was convinced that only dogs do that - obviously I was wrong! On the way south we stopped at Seljalandsfoss (now you know what that is, don't you?). It's the highest waterfall in Iceland and one can walk around its base (and watch through the falling water from its back). Its noise is impressing and my hair wet. The next waterfall on our way was Skogarfoss. We climbed on its top (there's a path leading up) to see its river.

We got tired and hungry. We decided to have a lunch in Vik, a small city on the southern coast of Iceland. However, we didn't find any restaurant in Vik. It is 22:00, but it's still not dark. In the nearby hotel we were told there's no restaurant in Vik and that we might find something to eat at the nearby gas station (they usually function as shops and grill-restaurants as well). At the gas station the only thing they had were two small sandwiches. We bought them both. We went to the nearby beach with the nice view over Reynisdrangar. These are stones spiking from the sea - the legend says that once upon a time trolls were pulling a ship in the night and when the sun appeared the ship turned to stones and what one can see now were once the masts of the ship... I think the story is even more interesting than this, but this is all I remember. Trolls supposedly live in the caves and don't like the daylight.

After the wind froze us on the beach we continued driving eastbound and stopped along a road where we saw a sign near the road, with a camera and the text "Munum ..." (I forgot the second word) on it. We thought this means that this is a nice place to take photos. A little later we kept driving. The rain started and the countryside became much greener. After a while we arrived in Kirkjubaejarklaustur (pronounce it if you can!) and found a nice, half-empty Icelandair hotel where we enjoyed the beer we brought from Paris (in Iceland, alcoholic beverages can't be bought anywhere and they're very expensive). Outside, the rain was pouring. It's already 01:00... Good night!

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Iceland: Jokulslaron, Myvatn
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