Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nothing warms my heart like Iceland

I cannot say enough about Iceland and it's many arctic charms. If you have ever been curious about this amazing country (located midway between the U.S. and Europe) I suggest a visit during the summer where there is almost 24 hours of sunlight a day or in the winter when there is almost none at all. The country was first settled in the 10th century by Vikings and their Irish slaves and today's Icelanders have pretty much retained Old Norse their ancestrsal language. The country itself is about the size of Kentucky and is the most volcanically active place on Earth today. Located in the North Atlantic just south of the Arctic circle where the American and European continental plates meet and split apart creating a hyperactive geologic hotspot where the island positively erupts steaming with volcanos, geysers and hot springs. In the past 500 years 1/3 of all volcanic eruptions happened in Iceland, so often in fact that a volcano erupts on average once every 5 years. 
Don't let the name Iceland fool you because the weather is warmed by the North Atlantic current which makes the country's winters more mild than in NewYork City and it's summers are sunny, comfy and cool, so it never gets too cold or too warm. The Icelandic terrain is rugged with majestic snow capped mountain ranges and long valleys, which are easily navigable through a network of accessible roads. Brendan and I rented a car and toured the southwest portion of the country with ease and privacy. The hotels are not cheap so we rented a gorgeous penthouse apartment (cheaper than most hotels) in downtown Reykjavik, the northernmost capital in the world home to about 60% of the country's 300,000 people. From Reykjavik we toured most of the southwest of Iceland through Thingvillir Lake and the famous Golden Circle where the original Geysir can be found and where the world's first parliament met and still does. We also took a dip in the geothermal spa of the Blue Lagoon, the most visited spot in Iceland and it's healing waters are like taking a dip in warm bluish milk. Of the many cities we visited on our 100 day tour around the world Reykjavik left a deep impression and I cannot wait to return and explore more of what the city and the country has to offer.

In downtown Reykjavik standing in front of Church of Iceland, Hallgrimskirkia, the tallest structure in Reykjavik and a dominant part of the city's skyline.
Reykjavik's only two gay bars 
 Iceland's National Library
Tjörnin, (The Pond)  in central Reykjavík
A monument to their Old Norse heritage a large 
Viking ship looks over Reykjavik's shore
Mountain ranges along our drive

Öxarárfoss Waterfall one of the main attractions of Thingvellir National Park
Horses grazing on the land
Beautiful rivers all over the place

Brendan walking in front of the Althing (literally means All Thing or General Assembly)
 is the world's first parliament from the year 930 AD and it still exists and functions today.
View of Thingvillir Lake and National Park
Hot springs of the Golden Circle
The Kerio volcano is an inactive volcano crater in Iceland containing a small lake.
Brendan standing in front of Gullfloss, or Golden Falls
More waterfalls

Approaching the Geysers of Haukadalurthe first Geysers recorded in history by Europeans settlers and it where we get the name.
We are in pretty hot water here
The hot tub is ready
Blue algae growing in the hot springs
Entrance to Blue Lagoon Spa and Clinic
Blue algae is responsible for making the Blue Lagoon really blue
People taking a healing dip in the Blue Lagoon
Me standing on the edge of the Blue Lagoon
A close up view of the half salt water half fresh water on volcanic rock

View of the midnight sun atop our penthouse in Reykjavik
Powerful Gullfloss Waterfall

Boiling Little Geyser
Just a minor glimpse of the energy being released from the center of the Earth

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