Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Iceland Day 2: Onward to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

After I misinterpreted directions on our map (we became well acquainted with several grazing sheep and a road running parallel to our destination), our first stop was Reykholt. Iceland is full of men named Snorri, we were quick to learn. Snorri Sturluson, a medieval scholar, chronicler of Norse sagas, and chieftain once called this sleepy village his home (though during his time 60,000-80,000 people lived there). I was interested in viewing his pool, Snorralaug.

According to the Iceland bible, Lonely Planet, it is possibly the oldest manmade structure in the country. The stones are original, dating back to the 10th century. The little door in the background covers a drafty tunnel which leads to his farmhouse. Snorri was murdered here centuries ago, hacked to death by his former son-in-law. We would discover a lot of this in Iceland. Areas that looked calm and peaceful had a brutal history which years and years later, still taints the atmosphere.

Our first introduction to the foss in Iceland was Hraunfossa. These waterfalls emerge from a lava field one kilometer away. I am envious of anyone taking a geology class in this country. Not only would the field trips be incomparable, but one would learn how this phenomenon takes place.

The milky blue water of Barnafoss (The Children's Falls) was also a favorite. One of my missions was to photograph as many variations of blue water that I could find and this toothpaste hue was a rarity.

Gatklettur, the Arch Rock, in Arnarstapi took our breaths away. I have only seen water this blue in the North Atlantic and suddenly it occurred to me that we were getting closer to the Arctic Ocean. I began dreaming of obtaining water samples from all the oceans in the world.

Snaefellsjökull, at not even 5000', was constantly present and spectacular to watch. Only for a few moments over the next two days, did we see it without a swirl of meringue hovering over the summit.

Words cannot fully describe Djúpalónssandur, a black stone beach with immense rock formations in Snaefellsjökull National Park. This is the path one takes to the water with a glimpse of the glacier through the heart shaped hole.

There are no rodents in Iceland. No squirrels nor chipmunks begging for food in the parking lots. We settled for finding zoomorphic forms in the outcroppings. There is a squirrel here and perhaps a few other anthropomorphic features as well. 

The sun was in the awkward, high noon position for several more hours during the day, resulting in unwanted silhouettes. It made this image more imposing than reality. Insert a 44º F temperature and it is far easier to understand what a day at the beach in June feels like here.

If this was the United States, the remains of this shipwreck from 1948 would have long disappeared. The metal parts, spread over several hundred feet, continue to rust on the pebbly sand.

After checking into our room for two nights in Hellissandur and eating dinner in nearby Olafsvik, we took a walk to the beach at 11:30 PM. I stayed awake until the sunset and it was not for another full hour. As a night owl (writing this post at 1 AM), I grew to like the long evenings but they were detrimental in convincing myself that it was time for sleep. Visiting in the winter would be problematic. It is far easier to accept these conditions than living in the darkness for most of the day. The Aurora Borealis might make up for it but I am not fully convinced.

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