Thursday, August 3, 2017
Akureyri - Iceland
passage would let us. With her dazzling eyes and her ruby red lips, the
cruise ship "Aida" was hot on our heels, constantly poking her nose out, in
what looked like an attempt to overtake us.
Surrounded by snow cap mountains, our Alaskan memories come flooding back.
"A land that feels so close to heaven, it seems almost unnecessary to build
a cathedral", is how the Patter described Akureyri. The rolling green
mountains, bubbling creeks, winding rivers and loads of sheep, bring New
Zealand's North Island instantly to mind.
If it is not green, it looks volcanic and you can't imagine that there would
be enough dirt for anything to grow. Bales of hay dot the green meadows,
small white, yellow and purple flowers edge the roads that we drive along.
A story that we have heard, both in Norway and in Iceland, is about the
brightly painted houses. Timber is not a big commodity in this part of the
world. So a lot of these homes are actually bought in kit form, also known
as Catalogue homes (not cantaloupe like I thought, drivers bad accent ).
Built elsewhere they are then numbered, dismantled, delivered and
reassembled.. Screams Ikea, doesn't it..
We started with beautiful blue skies, but they gradually turned grey as
moved further inland. Our first stop was at Godafoss. God, what a foss did
those waters tumble over the rocks LOL... In the year 1000, Thorgeir
Thorkelsson and the Icelandic parliament decreed that the island would
become a Christian nation. After his conversion, Thorgeir threw all his
Norse gods statues into the waterfall, hence the name Waterfall of the Gods.
The rocky areas around the falls were slippery and wet with jagged volcanic
edges. You need to be very careful especially if you leave the designated
paths. Scampering across the rocks looking for the best footing, you must
stop yourself in just going that little bit further to get the best shot.
It was not uncommon to see people precariously perched on rocks or teasing
fate as they moved closer and closer to edge. No OH & S here, nothing to
stop or warn you about any impending danger.
Next stop was Dimmuborgir, world's largest lava formation. Walking paths
are sign posted to take you to all the formations of interest. Our drivers
mission was to take us to "Storihingur" - Bigcircle, to us. Like mountain
goats we scampered up and through the hole giving us never ending views of
lava formations in every direction.
Taken off the beaten track our driver cajoled us to climb down into a cave
to discover a crystal-clear pond at the bottom. Interrupting the stillness
with a dip of our hands we found the water quite warm and inviting to touch.
We resisted the urge to jump in to warm ourselves against the cold outside.
If you a GOTS fan, Jon Snow dipped more than his hand here and lost his
virginity to his favourite wilding in this very cave.
Instead we inspected the never-ending fissure created by the clashing of the
North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Oh Well.
There is a vast contrast between lush green landscape we had been passing to
the scorched, steaming environs of Namaskard. Bubbling mud pools with dense
sulphur smelling vapours emanating from where they erupted their way out of
the ground. It is contrasts like these that make Iceland such an idyllic
location for many films and TV series.
We had the option of a swim. "swim" you say. in that weather. Underground
hot water is in abundance, for the bargain price of $50 Aud we could have
swum in at the Geo thermal pools. We took the free option of just watching.
Water temperature can be extremely high, where we must heat the water we use
in our showers, in Iceland it must be cooled before it is allowed to flow
into your home. Another way they take advantage of this volcanic steam, is
to bake bread. A rye dough is buried underground for 24 hours where the hot
springs heat the ground, to a temperature that cooks the bread. (see the
picture of the board with bricks on top, they are the ovens!)
Back in Akureyri we were taken on a quick tour of some of the older house in
the town before we were safely dropped back to our ship.