11 August 2009

Arrived in Iceland

Probably not a bad thing - but been without internet access for a few days - so quite a bit to catch up...we were warmly welcomed in Seydisfjordur by a puffin. Unfortunately the puffin's warm welcome was not matched by the Customs who kept us waiting for over an hour to tell us that we were not carrying drugs. The sniffer dog was distinctly unimpressed by the car - and so it seemed the police handlers too!

The difficulty about blogging about this trip is that the scenery and the pictures that I have taken can dominate the blog. However the scenery is pretty much what I've come for.

The journey into the port was another spectactular view of hills, mountains, waterfalls, ice and mist. Splendid! A quick shopping expedition on the edge of town and then make our way to the ringroad. Obviously not a dual carriageway avoiding the city centre but a signposted road around the edge of Iceland - helpfully numbered '1'. Most of the road is covered with tarmac, but on this first section I came across one of the longest sections of 'gravel roads' - but I'd call them tracks. They appear to have two features that residents in Lewisham might find useful - they slow cars down and they are cheap to maintain.

Being used to just a few on the pond or in the river the sight of literally thousands of swans in the sea was amazing.

What a treat - I'd missed this in the guidebook - a glacial lagoon. Bascially the glacier is melting - and the lagoon created by the glacial melt accessible. We took a boat trip amongst the blue, white and grey icebergs floating around in the mist. Truly amazing. The physics behind why icebergs are blue is interesting.

I think it is the colours that make the place seem so unworldy. Pastel blues and the like are not normally seen in nature in the UK - other than in small quantities on plants - to see something that has the colour of a cheap toilet cleaning block floating around is quite startling.

Later on we went for a walk on one of the glaciers - complete with crampons and ice-axes. Brilliant to see deep crevices in the ice and what the guide called cauldrons - deep wells within the glacier where the water flows down and away. Scary looking places and the stuff of nightmares. However I didn't notice any flooding on the glacier so it appears they are far more efficient at removing vast quantities of melting water than the gullies on Wickham Road.

Another unexpected feature of the glacier was the moraines - basically piles of stones and rubble left by the glacier which look amazingly similar to rubble found on a demolition or building site.

We carried along on the ring road and this is the third night of three in Reykjavik. Iceland has continued to delight - hot springs and bubbling mud. The Blue Lagoon (perhaps this could be Lewisham's answer to the wasted heat from Selchp - The Deptford Lagoon?).

Much of Iceland's energy is provided by geothermal or hydroelectricty. This is an example of Iceland's emerging hydrogen network as part of preparing for a post-carbon world. The hydrogen in this station is used to power a whale-watching ship.

Tomorrow we leave Reykjavik and set off to see the site of the first parliment, geysir and gullfoss.

5 August 2009

A Fair Ol' Treat!

We left Torshavn bang on schedule. Unexpectedly the boat took a course between the islands giving the passengers the chance to see some stunning scenery for about 2 hours.

Blogging in Torshavn

Modern technology again - and the luxury of a two day ferry journey means that I have wifi onboard, my camera and the time to post to the blog. The ferry arrived at Torshavn about 90 minutes ago and will be leaving in about 20; the crossing was very smooth and the sun came out to welcome us to the Faroes.

The journey to the Faroes was particularly pleasant - the sun was shining and we sailed along the Norwegian coast for quite some time. Most of the passengers spent the day out on deck enjoying the sun, a beer and relaxing - and most of those now have bright red faces.

3 August 2009

On Holiday

The benefits of a laptop and free wifi access in the hotel means that I can put a few pictures up and comments even whilst on holiday.

August is a time a relaxing - taking some time out -the schools are closed, cities are hot and tiring, and no-one likes politics.

My holiday this year is a bit of a childhood dream come true - a tour of Iceland. The name itself is one of those descriptive names. However, for many years I've wanted to come to Iceland - this I'm on my way!

The journey so far has been good fun and relatively uneventful. On Thursday morning we set set off for Dover at about 7 and arrived in good time for the ferry to Dunkirk. Making good progress we arrived in Muenster at aroun 19:00 and checked in. Muenster apparently has one of the highest levels of bicylce ownership in Germany - the number cyclists and cycles tracks in the City seemed to confirm this!Another advantage of Muenster is that you can still buy pick and mix - but we left too early...

Whenever we go on holiday there always seem to be elections - we saw this in Muenster:

Friday we travelled on to Copenhagen - catching the ferry from Puttgarden. A relatively expensive way to travel - but giving me, the driver, the chance to have a rest. From the ferry we get the first views of Denmark - wonder what caught my eye about Denmark?

Up early for the ferry to Iceland this morning and thought I'd finish off the holiday blog so far. It was Pride week in Copenhagen. Flags everywhere. One of the churches got in on the act too. And the photo shows my preferred way of getting around - hire a bike - loads of dedicated cycle lanes.

Even though we had the bikes, we did use public transport once - the cross river service.

And the greener alternative to patio heaters and the smoking ban (I don't smoke) - brewery-sponsored warm blankets

Must get up now - down to breakfast and then to the portt for the ferry to Iceland via the Faroes.