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.

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