Traveling Nancy

Traveling around the world as far as I can go.


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June 24th – Iceland

When we got up this morning, we walked around the area to look at the waterfalls again.  This has been the most beautiful campsite.

 

We left before we even at breakfast to find the ferry dock to go to Heimæy Island.  After we purchased our tickets, we had breakfast at a picnic bench.

Then we boarded the 9:45 ferry for the 30 minute ride to Heimæy.  The first thing we did to get coffee for Eliane.

The woman who owned the coffee shop was very sweet and gave us books of photos and told us about how her father woke her up in the middle of the night and they evacuated the island.  She told us how to walk up to the top of the volcano.

We walked part way into the lava field when I discovered that I had left my camera at the coffee shop.  So we walked back to get it.  The owner had noticed that I left it and was driving around looking for me. That was so nice of her. I waited for her to return.

I took several photos on the way to the lava field, in the lave field, and on the way up the volcano.

It was quite the hike up to the top.


When we finally reached the top, there was a group of high school students with their teachers.  I asked the teacher to tell me about what had happened because I couldn’t figure out where the crater was.  He explained that it wasn’t a regular volcano.  The earth had just split at a fissure and fire and lava erupted from there.  This is an article I found online.

“January 23, 1973, a previously-unknown fissure in the Earth beneath the small Icelandic island of Heimaey opened up less than a mile from the town of Vestmannaeyjar, which had a population of about 5,000 at the time. Within a day’s time, almost the entire island was safely evacuated, and geologists began to monitor the eruption. The newly-formed Eldfell volcano erupted for about six months, covering much of Vestmannaeyjar in ash, destroying several hundred homes, and sending lava flows toward the harbor—at one point raising the water temperature to 111° F (44° C).

An enormous and largely-successful effort was made to slow and control the lava flow by pumping seawater and spraying the leading edge of the flows. Within a year after the end of the eruption, most residents had returned, and today, the island remains inhabited, with a population of about 4,500.”

I took this photo off of the web.

The teacher showed us a open spot and told us to put our hand down into it.

It was really warm in there.  He said that it could erupt any time again.

These are some more photos from today.

The town is below.  The town used to come right to were we were sitting but all of the houses up to there were destroyed.


We walked back down and explored the town before taking the ferry back to Hella.  Elaine and I are so glad we decided to go out toHeimæy Island today.

We are camped in Arhus in Hella tonight.  Tomorrow we are going to Landmannalauger by bus and have to take our sleeping bags with us.  So I am making sure that they fit into the black bags we got from a coffee shop many days ago.

We are camped in Hella tonight.  Tomorrow we are going to Landmannalauger by bus and have to take our sleeping bags with us.  So I am making sure that they fit into the black bags we got from a coffee shop many days ago.

 

These are all the people who were still having dinner at midnight tonight.

They have all gone to bed and I am just finishing my post.  I am now all caught up.  No posting for the next couple of days when we are out hiking.  Hoping for good weather.

 


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June 23rd. – Iceland

Breakfast was included in our room stay last night.  The family who owed the place was from the Philippines.  It was nice to have a breakfast inside again.

It wasn’t long this morning before we were passing waterfalls.  This one was named Stjórnarfoss.

We liked the tan colored rock behind this one.


Many times as we drove we passed fields of lave covered in what I think is moss.  Today we pulled off the road to take a walk through some of it to see it more closely.

 

 

There are more and more lupins everywhere.  Elaine heard that they last a long time in Iceland because it doesn’t get hot.

The mountains in the distance are etherial.


It was another day of wonderful scenery.

We stopped in Vic and drove up to the church.

And walked up above it.

Then we parked down by the black sand beaches and took photos of the Sea Stacks.

These are the iconic cluster of Towering Sea Stacks (Reynisdranger).  They raise from the ocean like ebony towers at the end of Vik’s black-sand beach.  It is traditionally believed to be trolls that caught out in the sun.   Legend says that the stacks originated when two trolls dragged a three-masted ship to land unsuccessfully and when daylight broke they became needles of rock.

Contemporary legends note the story of a husband who found his wife taken by the two trolls, frozen at night. The husband made the two trolls swear to never kill anyone ever again. His wife was the love of his life, whose free spirit he was unable to provide a home for; she found her fate out among the trolls, rocks, and sea at Reynisfjara.

This sand beach is widely regarded as the most impressive black-sand beach in Iceland.

Again it was a very windy day.  We were sitting in the Campervan making our next plan when a young woman in the camper next to us did not hold onto her door when she opened it.  That is a must do rule as you get in or out of your vehicles every time.  Anyway, it slammed into the side of our camper and made a dent.  The two women did not think it was dented, but it was.  So I took a photo of her driver’s licence, the licence plate of their camper and the rental papers from the company they used.  Hopefully we won’t have a problem when we return our camper.

Then we drove to Dyrhólæy to see the rocky plateau and huge stone sea arch which rises dramatically from the surrounding plain.  The promontory is a nature reserve rich in bird life. Even though we read that it was closed from 15 May to 25 June, there were many cars going up the road.  The road was extremely narrow (mostly one lane) and twisty.

There were more sandy beaches.

… and birds to photograph.

This place is Loftsalahellir

 

Loftsalahellir Cave is a rather large and unusual cave made of tuff rock on the southwest side of Geitafjall Mountain which sports a variety of basalt formations and lush vegetation on its slopes. The cave served as an assembly place for the farmers in Mýrdal and nearby is Gálgaklettur or ‘gallows rock’. The name suggests that the execution of criminals was performed there early in the last century, although no records to confirm this have ever been found.

There was a sheep in the cave.

Then we drove to Skógafoss.  It is a 62 meter waterfall topples over a rocky cliff at the western edge of Skógar.  The wind was blowing so hard.

We climbed the steeps stairs to be at the top of the waterfall.  There were a lot of stairs and it was extremely windy at the top.

Elaine took a photo of me for perspective.

The power of this waterfall is amazing.  I tried to o video, but it is just not working tonight.

We passed a couple more turf places.

The roof of this shed is literally under the rock

Elaine is taking a photo.

Today the wind was at 10 meters per second which is 22.36 miles an hour and 15 meters per second which is 33.55 miles per hour.  We met a couple who had hiked 20 km to the top of a mountain to stay in a hut but they were told that it was way too windy and were sent back down.

We drove to our campsite and stopped at Selljalandfoss.  The water was literally going sideways form the wind.  I tried to video from my iPad and it was almost blown out of my hands.

The area is also known as  Troll Woman’s Gorge. According to legend and old troll woman was trying to cross the gorge. but had to retreat when she heard the bells ringing at the nearby Asólfssálar Church.

Falling 65 meters over an old sea cliff, Selljalandfoss is a waterfall that you can walk behind. As you circle the falls, you can see it from all angles. if the sun shines, rainbows appear while the thundering sound of the waterfall plays in the background.  If  the temperature had not been in the low 40s and the wind had not been blowing at over  33 mph with very strong gusts way over that, perhaps we could have walked behind the falls.

The place we camped tonight is the most beautiful campsite yet.  There are several falls right near us.

We shared our dinner table with another couple

… and the cat that was not to be disturbed even when we moved the chair.

We had our typical dinner.

I am still dressed pretty warmly even though we are inside.

Sine I am writing this post the next day I can add that it was so windy overnight that the whole campervan was rocking and rolling in the middle of the night.  This is quite a summer in Iceland.

 


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June 22nd – Iceland

There were many beautiful sights on our morning drive.  I love the farms in the distance and the glaciers.

The old abandoned farms are my favorites.


Our first stop today was to see Iceberg at Jökulsárlón which is a large glacial lake on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park.  The parking lot was crowded and some people were lined up to take a boat into the lake to see the icebergs.  After Antarctica, these icebergs just did not grab my attention.

From there we went to Skaftafell.  It took a very long time to find a parking place.  We went back and forth between the two parking lots before we found a spot.  Skaftafell is a wilderness area in Iceland’s Vatnajökull National Park. Its huge glaciers include Skaftafellsjökull and Svínafellsjökull.  We took a short walk (about 3.8 km) that was self guided.  One of the numbered spots had information about tufts.

In the above photo the large boulder at the bottom of hillside fell from the hill behind it.  It is called tuff and was formed when a volcanic eruption took place under water, including under glacial ice.  When the rising magma came into contact with cold water, it cooled instantly.  Steam explosions hurled bits of the material, called ash, through the water and even into the air.  Over time the ash consolidates and hardens into what is called tuff.

There were several waterfalls along the way.

There were ravens up on the cliffs.

Along the way we learned about how far the glacier has been receding but I lost the pamphlet.

It is hard to believe how many layers of clothes I have been wearing on many of these days (wool tank top, long sleeve shirt, wool long-sleeved shirt, down vest, and my Antarctica jacket with a buff and hat on my head and gloves on my hands.

At the end of the walk was the large glacier but we didn’t walk all the way up to it because it.  It was very windy and cold.

I liked the color of the moss on this rock.  It is very spongy.

Of course I had to take another raven photo and another bird along the way.

It would have been nice to take several more hikes in this area.  We were struck again at how much more time Iceland deserves.

There were many more spectacular rock formations along the way.  These photos just cannot capture the beauty of the landscape.

I think the above photo may be of Mt. Lómagnúpur.  There is a legend connected to it.

The Saga of Njáll speaks of a dream chieftain Flosi Þorgeirsson had. He dreamt that he was by Mt. Lómagnúpur. The mountain opened up and a giant stepped out of the mountain, holding a large iron rod. The giant called out the names of Flosi’s men. First he called out the name of Grímur the Red, a kinsman of Flosi, and Árni Kolsson. Then he called out the names of Eyjólfur Bölverksson and Ljótur, the son of Hallur at Síða, and another 6 men.

The giant then kept silent for a while. He then called out the names of 5 of Flosi’s men, which were the sons of Sigfús. He then called out another 5 names, Lambi, Móðólfur and Glúmur. And he called the names of another 3 men. Last of the names were Gunnar Lambason and Kolur Þorsteinsson. The giant then walked towards Flosi and Flosi asked him what was new and what was his name. The giant told Flosi that  his name were Járngrímur. Flosi analysed the dream and believed that all these men, whose names were called out by the giant, were going to be killed.

I may have the wrong photo, but I like leaning about the  legends.

I was looking at the farm house in the photo below and was wondering who possible could have lived on such a beautiful property and so isolated.

 

It is hard to see in the above photo, but I noticed that there were turf houses on the farm.  Elaine stopped the camper on a spot on the side the road where another car was parked.  The sign said that the place was private, but we saw two other people walking beyond the fence on the road up to the farm.  So we started up the hill, crossed the cattle crossing.

…and entered the farm.

What an utterly amazing place!!!

The land is in front of an amazing rock and several waterfalls on the property.

 

This is a photo of the main house.  The waterfalls are in the cliffs behind the house.

There was a paper tacked on the side of the house that said the last farmer on this property had died.

We spent a long time walking around the property and exploring every single building, shed and tool we would find. I was overwhelmed with what a wonderful find this was.

We were so amazed to find this small chapel.

There was a key in the door that turned to let us into the chapel.


So we entered.

The cabinet at the back had a date on it.

There was a small attic and we reached up and found this bell.

There were several papers hanging on the wall written in Icelandic.

This photo of me in the doorway shows how small the chapel was.

 

We looked into this shed.

Elaine and I were totally overwhelmed when we looked into the shed and found these 3 sheep (one with a black face that hid behind the others) huddled in the back of the shed.  I am sure we were frightening them.

There was a small grave site.

 

There was a small grove a trees.

Near the grove of trees was a plaque with a genealogy chart that dates back to 1720.

Just a few more photos from the farm.

 

 

I just couldn’t stop taking photos.

The words on this post say, lokað tímabundið – Closed Temporarily”

 

As I am writing this post, I am still astounded at how lucky we were to stumble onto such a fabulous experience.

We passed one more amazing farm property on our way to find a place to sleep.

It is hard to see the bottom of the waterfall that comes almost down to one of the buildings on the farm.  The farms in Iceland are truly amazing.

We passed a place to stay and decided to spend one more night in a room.  Little did we know that it was going to start raining.   I can’t remember the name of it, but it is in Kirkjubæjarklaustur.

I was still so excited about the farm with turf houses, that searched the web for information.  This is what I found.

Old turf roofed farm at Núpsstaður. The farm buildings date back to the early 19th century. The chapel is one of the last turf churches in Iceland.

Núpsstaðakirkja, the chapel, was deconsecrated in 1765 by a letter from the King and was most likely used as a farm church or an oratory after that time. For a while it was used as a storehouse. It wasn’t until 200 years later, or in 1961, that it was re-consecrated after having been repaired in 1958-1960.

It is believed that the chapel is mostly from a church that was built around 1650, but a church was abandoned there in 1765. In 1930 the chapel was the first house in the country to be proclaimed inviolate, and in 1961 it was re-consecrated.

The first church at Núpsstaðir is thought to have been built before the Reformation in Iceland, before 1200. The church was dedicated to Saint Nicholas, but very few people were part of the congregation at this time. In 1765 it stopped being used for the congregation and became a private chapel. After 1783 is was used as an outhouse. In 1930, the national museum of Iceland, Þjóðminjasafnið, took over its control and in the years 1958-1960 it was repaired and restored.

The farm has belonged to the same family ever since 1730. The farm mound is an extremely well-preserved source on how farming was, and how the area was used in the past.

We are two lucky travelers.

 

The chapel is most likely from a church built in 1650. However church has not been at Nupsstadur since 1765.

The chapel was proclaimed inviolate in 1930 and was the first house in Iceland to receive that and was then re-conscrated in 1961.

 

 


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June 21st – Iceland

This morning we drove up to Laugarfell.  Most of the road was gravel and wound up many switchbacks.  There were beautiful from the road, but it was very rainy.

At Laugarfell there are two natural hot springs which give the place its name. The view from the pools is beautiful and in the distance we should have been able to see Mount Snæfell but the mountain was socked in the clouds. Old sayings claim the water in the springs have healing powers.

The first pool is larger and just under 100 degrees.

The smaller pool is at about 104 or 105 degrees.  That one was my favorite.


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It felt like I could just relax there for hours.  But even with the short time I was there, I had raised my body temperature to the point of being a little dizzy.  In hind-site it would have been great to stay in the lodge there.  That way we could have used the hot pots many times and perhaps the weather would have cleared a bit in the night.

When we were leaving they were cleaning the hot-pots which was going to take 2 hours.  Just another example of how lucky Elaine and I are with are timing (not because of good planning- just pure luck).  Icelanders do not plan ahead very much.  They just  look at the weather.  We can’t control the weather because of our time limits, but we are behaving like Icelanders and just going going with the flow.

On the way back to town to stock up on food supplies (although we actually eat surprisingly little) we stopped to do a hike up to a waterfall.  It was a longer hike than we expected but the rewards were outstanding.

Hengilfoss is one of the highest waterfalls in Iceland 450 meters above sea level and drops into a beautiful gorge.  Hengifossárgljüfur.   A special feature of the rock layers in the gorge surrounding the waterfall is the layers of red clay sandwiched between layers of basalt.  Lower in the gorge beneath the waterfall there are interesting sedimentary rocks about 100 m thick.  The upper layers of tree trunks and branches and other traces of plants occur.

The gorge becomes narrow and shallow below Sellækir, deepening again at Lilanes and broadening into an amphitheater of basalt columns (stðlaberg) that frames the 30 meter high waterfall known as Litlanesfoss or Stuónarhraun (viewing rock” consisting of mainly basalt columns.

The entire canyon was spectacular.  On the way up the path I noticed some sheep hanging out by a small waterfall.

There was one just balancing as it crossed the rock.

We came to the basalt columns first and Litlanesfoss first.

I think I read that the curve in the top of the basalt pillars was caused by the lava becoming cooler.

Walking back into the canyon up to Hengilfoss was so spectacular.  As I walked closer to the falls the rocks were pretty slippery.

Two girls took my photo after I took theirs.

I had walked as far as I could safely.

I loved these sheep that were standing and watching the road but they couldn’t cross the grating.

Their wool was sopping wet.


After our shopping at Bonus we started on our way again.   We had been advised to get off of Highway 1 and took the fjord roads.  It was beautiful in the rain but not too conducive for photography.  Elaine did a fabulous job driving around each fjord as I did the navigating.

We decided to stop in Höfn (pronounced Hop – like you are having a quick hick-up) for the night. Höfn is an Icelandic fishing town in the southeastern part of the country. It lies near Hornafjörður fjord. The town, the second largest in the southeastern part of Iceland, would have offered  scenic views of Vatnajökull if it had not been raining.   We decided to go out for dinner and that was a wonderful choice.  The lobster salad with garlic dressing at Z Bistro was absolutely delicious.  Peppers and tomatoes have been our salad fixings, so a real salad was a treat – aside from loving lobster.

Time for bead at about midnight without even posting on my blog.  I am now 2 more days behind.


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June 20th – Iceland

Elaine and I went back out to Hafnarhólmi to see the Puffins again this morning.  I was surprised to see the Hurtigruten ship out in the Borgarfjörður.  It was the Spitsbergen.

All of the people on the ship were wearing red jackets.  Seeing the Hurtigruten through my memory back to being on the FRAM in Antarctica.By the time we got there many of the passengers went into town on a bus.  It was nice to have a couple of the expedition guides out there with us so we could ask them questions.

Of course, I took a few more photos of Puffins.

 

I love when they open their wings.

And I did one more video of a single Puffin turning his/her head back and forth.

We stayed out there for a long time. Elaine spent some time asking the Hurtigruten marine biologist questions about puffins.  I could watch Puffins for hours and hours.  It reminded me of how much I loved watching the penguins in Antarctica.

On our way back to town I asked a workman what they were building near the dock.  He said that it would be a 3 story building.  The bottom floor would be for the boat people; the second floor for the tourists; and the 3rd floor for a restaurant.  Horrible.  We have heard that Iceland is expecting 3 million visitors this year.  Yikes!  One of the things that Elaine and I are so enjoying is the lack of people on the roads.  Aside from our own pleasure, there are several other reasons that this is a problem.

  • Iceland does not have the infrastructure (campgrounds, pull outs along the roads, restroom facilities) ready for that many people
  • People are already camping illegally along the side of the road wherever they want to stop.  This is against the law but not enforced.  Perhaps because there are not many law enforcement people around.
  • Most importantly the environment of Iceland.  People walk where ever they want to go.  They don’t seem to understand the fragility of the landscape.
  • There are not enough hotels and who wants more hotels anyway.

After we dragged ourselves away from the puffins, we took a walk through town to see the sights and take photos.

 

Naddi, a monster who lived in Njarðvik Screes, is an animal below the waist and human above, His home was in a cave and from there he came to kill travellers after dark. He was eventually cast into the ocean by a strong man in Borgarfjörður. The man erected a cross in the screes to “Get God’s protection,” This is a photo of the cross and the sign. The inscription is in Latin and reads, “Bow down and revere this effigy of Christ, who you pass by. Anno MCCVI (1306)

Elaine noticed that Stella was working on the outside of her turf house.  We went back over to say, “Hi” again.  I asked her about the cellar.  The young workman explained what I meant to her and she took us back into the house and opened the trap door to the cellar.

Stella tried to tell me (in Icelandic) where the light switch was.  So I got down on the floor to reach for it.

I had to use my phone to search for it.

I was showing Stella how I was pushing the button to turn it on.

No matter how many times I pushed it, it wouldn’t turn on the light.  So I went down into the cellar in the dark.

Flash photography didn’t really work.  It was very small and dry.  So back up I came.  I think that Stella was telling us that they stored vegetables down there, but I am not sure.  So we just took another photo with Stella.

We walked by this sculpture.

Here is the story that goes with it.  Naddi, a monster who lived in Njarðvik Screes, is an animal below the waist and human above, His home was in a cave and from there he came to kill travellers after dark. He was eventually cast into the ocean by a strong man in Borgarfjörður. The man erected a cross in the screes to “Get God’s protection,” This is a photo of the cross and the sign. The inscription is in Latin and reads, “Bow down and revere this effigy of Christ, who you pass by. Anno MCCVI (1306).

We walked through through the town and checked out the pub and some guest houses.  I really think this home is cute.


Then we checked out the fish factory.  The men were getting the lines ready with bate.

They were working very fast.

Borgarfjörður  is known for stories of elves and spirits. A large rock is situated near the village. It is called Álfaborg (Elf Rock) and the fjord derives its name from it. This is the residence of Borghildur, queen of the Icelandic elves. Many myths revolve around her, other inhabitants of the rock and their interactions with humans.

Both of us wanted to eat the fish soup (Fiskisúpa)again so we went back to Alfa Cafe and hung out for a while.  I love that fish soup and could eat it every day.  I bought some more banana bread with chocolate and we left Borgarfjörður and drove towards Seyðisfjörður.

First we went back to Egilsstaðir to fill up the gas tank.  It will be interesting to find out how much money the gasoline has cost on this trip.

Then we drove over Fjarðarheiði mountain pass 27 kilometres to Seyðisfjörður which is surrounded by mountains with the most prominent Mt. Bjólfur to the west (1085m) and Strandartindur (1010m) to the east. The fjord itself is accessible on each side from the town, by following the main road that leads through the town.

Here are the rest of the photos from today.

This rock is a stuðlaberg.  It has been moved to this spot an put into concrete.

Settlement in Seyðisfjörður traces back to the early period of settlement in Iceland. The first settler was Bjólfur, who occupied the entire fjord. The burned down ruin of a staf church at Þórunnarstaðir has been carbon-dated to the 10th century, with earlier graves exhumed dating back to the 8th century.

This sculpture of a phone booth was built to commemorate the first telegraph cable connecting Iceland to Europe.  It  made landfall in Seyðisfjörður in 1906, making it a hub for international telecommunications well past the middle of last century.

We drove to the end of the town (as far as the decent gravel road went) and back again.  I liked this boat.

We drove up as high as we could over the town and took this photo looking back.


We went into the hostel just to see it.  It had a great kitchen.  Everybody takes off their shoes before they enter.

With the recent demise of the local fish-processing plant the village has shifted its economy to tourism. It still remains a significant fishing port on the east coast of Iceland, with harbours, ship construction facilities and a slip.

The church is often referred to as the Blue Church.

The Blue Church Summer Concert Series was founded in 1998 by Muff Worden, musician and Sigurður Jónsson engineer. The concerts are held in the church of Seyðisfjörður on Wednesday nights in July and early August. The aim is to offer a program consisting of different music styles, where classical music, jazz and blues, folk music and lighter music get to shine. The performers are usually highly qualified musicians.
The Seyðisfjörður church is a good concert house, praised by the performers. It houses a fairly new Steinway grand piano and a Frobenius organ with 14-15 stops. It has seats for 300 people. The concert guests are both locals and foreign travellers.  I wish we could be there to hear the concerts.

We decided to head back to Egilsstaðir to camp for the night.  That means I will get to shower and dress inside a warm building again tomorrow.

The rock walls all along the road are teaming with waterfalls that come streaming all the way from the top.  I lost count of how many there were.  It seems like they were every few meters on both sides of the road.  What a beautiful drive.

Finished writing this post at 10:45 tonight.  Wow! I am going to get a full night’s sleep.  Yea!!!

 

The post for yesterday, June 19th, was published before I finished it.  So if you want to read the whole day´s information and see all of the photos, go to the website (traelingnancy.me).

What an incredibly fantastic day.  We hung around the campsite for several hours this morning.  It was nice to take a shower in an indoor bathroom where it was warm getting dressed.  I finished working on yesterday’s blog posting and charged all of the batteries..  Elaine thought it would be fun to take a photo of me since I spend so much time working on the blogs.

We didn’t leave until after 12:00.  The drive to Borgarfjörður was really beautiful.  Much of it was on a gravel road going down switchbacks.  Here are a few photos from the ride.

 

 

 

 

We arrived in Borgarfjörður which is a fjord and a district in south-western Iceland, by Faxafloi bay. It takes its name from the farm of viking and poet Egill Skallagrimsson, of Egil’s Saga fame. Borgarfjörður eystri one of Europe´s “EDEN” destinations. It has a total of only 130 inhabitants.

We checked out the campground and then went to the Alfa Cafe. Álfa Cafe is made from local stones and wood and decorated with old Icelandic cultural items.  The inside of the cafe is warm and inviting.  Elaine and I had delicious fish soup with bread.  The soup bowl was refillable and so was my tea.

These are our waitresses.

There were dried fish heads hanging in the cafe.  It used to be exported to Nigeria.  The Nigerians used the heads for soups and nutrition.  I think the cheeks of the fish were a delicacy. Last year the company that exported it went bankrupt so they no longer export the heads.

There are more fish heads hanging behind the cafe.

There are replicas of paintings by Johannes Sveinsson Kjarva.  He did paintings of the local people and many of them have information describing the people.

Johannes Sveinsson Kjarval (15 October 1885 – 13 April 1972) was an Icelandic painter. He is by many considered one of the most important artists of Iceland.

Born in poverty, he rode his horse from southern Iceland to Borgarfjörður.  He came from a family of 13 children and they couldn’t afford to support him.  When he arrived he was adopted and as a young man worked as a fisherman. However, he spent every spare time drawing and painting and managed to learn basics from artist Ásgrímur Jónsson. At age 27 with financial support from fishermen and the Icelandic Confederation of Labour he passed an entrance examination and was admitted to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts for higher education in the arts where he completed his studies. During the Copenhagen years he became acquainted with various styles including impressionism, expressionism and cubism but he also became an accomplished draughtsman. Later he also took shorter trips to France and Italy.

  • In Reykjavik, one of three buildings belonging to the Reykjavik Art Museum is called Kjarvalsstaðir and presents Kjarval’s works alongside temporary exhibitions.
  • He is depicted on the Icelandic 2000 króna banknote.
  • The 1977 Debut Album Björk by Björk, includes an instrumental flute-tribute (Jóhannes Kjarval) written and performed by Björk

One of the women at the cafe created beautiful felted Icelandic trivets and I purchased 2 of them.

We learned that there was a turf house in Borgarfjörður where a woman lived in the summer.  We were told that her name is Stella and if we knocked on her door, she may let us in.  So we walked across the street.  There were workers in the yard and I asked if Stella was home.  We knocked on the door and she answered.  Stella lives in Reykjavik in the winter.  She has 3 sons, 9 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. I took many photos of her home (both inside and outside).

 

 

The bright-red home has a name – Lindarbakki (1899). It is completely cocooned by whiskery green grass, with only a few windows and a giant pair of antlers sticking out.  Its oldest part dates back to 1899, but it was thoroughly renovated just before the end of the 20th century.  The house is 30 square meters.  Lon ago a farmer used lived there with is wife and 3 children.  I read that the cellar of the house with its well is original.  We didn’t know about the cellar when we were there so we didn’t get to see it.  What a delight to see an really authentic turf home that is occupied. Continue reading


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June 18th – Iceland

Waking up this morning was much easier than I thought.  What a delight to go to a regular breakfast in the hotel.  I sure ate a lot.  Then we went to pack up our stuff.  I decided that since we didn’t have to check-out until noon, I would spend 20 minutes in the infra-red sauna.  It was so delightfully relaxing.

Before leaving the hotel, we stopped and talked with the young man, Garðar, on our way out.  We had a lot of questions to ask about our plans, roads, midges, etc.

Here that we learned about those annoying little critters.

  • Something I forgot from yesterday was that you can leave the window in the room open and they only come as far as the window sill.  How weird because they swarm into the camper whenever we open the doors.
  • Mývat
  • Mývatn means Midges Lake.
  • There are at least 50 varieties of midges.
  • Only one type bites and it does hurt.
  • Mývatn gets 2000 tons a year in dead midges
  • There are no mosquitoes in Iceland

Elaine had been talking with Garðar when I was in the shower and she learned more about the sheep and horses.

Sheep:

  • There are over 500,00 sheep in Iceland.
  • The don’t want the horses to know that the sheep outnumber them.
  • They are taken to the highlands in the summer so they never eat the grasses below.  That is why we don’t see very many of them.
  • The ones scattered about are herded by either dogs or leader sheep which are brown with white markings on their heads and usually taller than the other sheep.

Horses:

  • There are over 100,000 in Iceland
  • Other than using them for tourist rides they are bred to export.
  • They sell for tens of thousands of dollars and come with documentation that goes back centuries.

Before we took off for out day we went back to the nature baths to take a couple of photos.

Notice the two shower-like jets.  I tried them last night and you get a warm water massage when you stand under them.

The steam coming up through the vents all around the place is amazing.

It was a short distance to Dimmuborgir; pronounced is a large area of unusually shaped lava fields east of Mývatn in Iceland.  The Dimmuborgir area is composed of various volcanic caves and rock formations, reminiscent of an ancient collapsed citadel.

The Dimmuborgir area consist of a massive, collapsed lava tube l formed by a lava lake flowing in from a large eruption  in the Þrengslaborgir and Lúdentsborgir crater row to the East, about 2300 years ago. At Dimmuborgir, the lava pooled over a small lake. As the lava flowed across the wet sod, the water of the marsh started to boil, the vapour rising through the lava forming lava pillars from drainpipe size up to several meters in diameter. As the lava continued flowing towards lower ground in the Mývatn area, the top crust collapsed, but the hollow pillars of solidified lava remained. The lava lake must have been at least 10 meters deep, as estimated by the tallest structures still standing.

The lava flow surface remains partly intact around the Dimmuborgir area, so that the Dimmuborgir itself sits below the surrounding surface area. The area is characterised by large hollow cell- or chamber-like structures formed around bubbles of vapour, and some dramatically standing lava pillars. Several of the chambers and pillar bases are large enough to house humans, giving rise to the term “castles” (borgir).

We took a wonderful walk around the area.

Of course, I was wearing the net that protects me from the midges.  I am not sure why but they freak me out.

Folk lore has it that the clothes in this cave belong to the Icelandic Yule Lads.


Folk lore has it that here in Dimmuborgir the Icelandic Yule live.  They are the 13 sons of Gryla dn Leppaludi, vicious trolls that live in a big cave in Ludentarborgir.  The brothers all have funny names that often refer to their preferences for food or interest. To name a few there is Spoon Licker Sausage Swiper, Skyr Gobbler, and the noisy fellow Door Slammer who loves to wake up people by slamming the doors very loudly.

Here is a photo of a depiction of them from the web.

In the summer the Yule Lads can rarely be seen because they use this season to rest and are sleeping in their caves.  But as winter comes, they wake up and start preparing for Christmas.  The best time to meet them here in Dimmuborgir is during the month of December when they are busy preparing for Christmas.  The best way to find them is to walk the path to Hallarfiot and shout loudly, “Jolasverinn” – loud enough to be heard by all.

This bird is a Red Wing;.  I learned the name later in the day.

This moss is so soft and squishy.


Another couple of possible homes for the Yule Lads.

We drove around the lake to the Bird Museum.  On the way we passed many craters in the area called Skútustaðir pseudo craters. but decided that we didn’t have time to take the hike to see all of them   There were many, many of them. This natural phenomena is formed when lava flows over wet ground and pushes the ground down. This causes a lot of steam to be trapped under the weight of the lava which then causes a lot of pressure.  When the pressure becomes too much it causes steam explosions and the formation of these beautiful pseudo craters. These pseudo craters are often called rootless craters as they have no end to them as do normal craters.

Since the bird museum was only going to be open for less than an hour so we decided not to pay to go into it.  The young man at the desk was so knowledgable about birds in the area.  When I showed him one of the gull photos I had taken, he said, ´That is not a gull.”    I used my camera to show him the other bird photos I had taken.  That is how I knew that the bird photo from earlier today was a Red Tail. He named them all and  I will go back to previous days to label the bird photos when I get more time.

On the way back to the car I took a photo of this very tiny bird. It is a Phalarope.  They feed in shallow water and flit about the shore.

Elaine and I had heard a lot about the Vogafjos Cafe, Cow Shed Restaurant.  There are actually cows there and the info about it said that you can watch the cows as you eat a hamburger. That sounded a little wierd and wasn’t actually true.  We sat down at a table and looked at the very expensive items on the menu. It is in an actual cow shed (done up very nicely).  There are actually cows there.   I said, “I guess I will have the hamburger.”  Elaine asked me if I was actually going to spend 36 on on a hamburger.  I thought about it for a minute and we both left to eat our own food in the car.

We drove by Namafjall.  It is an expanse of hot springs called Hveraröndor Hverir that are known for their changing variety.  I didn’t want to get too close with my camera.

So Elaine and I stood back and used each other’s cameras to take photos of each other.

It was time to head out to Egilsstaðir.  We decided to take a side road off for Dettifoss.  It is a waterfall in Vatnajökull National Park in Northeast Iceland, and is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. The water comes from the nearby Vatnajökull glacier, whose sediment-rich runoff colors the water a greyish white.  There was cold low hanging fog engulfing us which made it difficult to get a decent photo of this enormous waterfall.

Then we walked along the path to Selfoss (11 metres (36 ft) high) which is a bit upstream of Dettifoss.  I took a couple of photos there.

Dettifoss and Selfoss would definitely be worth coming back to see on a nicer day.  I would have loved to walk down to the bottom of Dettifoss but we were pretty cold.  It may be important to note that on the eastern bank, the footpath down to the falls is extremely rough and a number of accidents have occurred when visitors have strayed from the track. The grassy slopes on the western bank become extremely slippery when they are wet.

Also, after we left the area  I learned that below Dettifoss,  Hafragilsfoss cascades 27 m into a deep canyon. If we had known, we would have driven to see it.  Some years ago, plans were proposed to harness the hydroelectric potential of the canyon, but they were scrapped when the lava strata in the area were found to be too porous for a reservoir. On the east bank of the canyon, near Hafragilsfoss, the river has cut through a crater row named Randarhólar to expose a volcano’s lava pipe in the cliff wall.

Driving along the road today took us through so many varied landscapes.  We drove through dusty desert volcanic rock that was grey and flat with no vegetation.  Then all of a sudden there were rock walled formations near Dettifoss with the fast, churning powerful river rushing through rocks.  As we drove on the landscape turned to rolling hills of brown volcanic rock. Soon we were again passing through areas with cascading waterfalls coming down through the green hills.  Then we were facing beautiful mountains that had snow on them.  I wish I could post photos of all of this but there were really no places to pull of the road until way after we passed by the scene I wanted to photograph.  It is amazing how few cars are on the road with us, but it is still not safe to just stop in the middle of the 2 land roads.  Here are just three.

The names on the signposts are so long.  Each part of the word has a different meaning.

 

Skjöld means shield;  ólf usually is an ending to a name; staða means place; and skóli means school.  So this must be the name of a nearby school.

At  one point we went by a one land bridge.  We pulled off for me to take a photo from the camper and a car rushed passed us.  I thought it was going to cross the bridge as another car was coming toward it, but at the last minute it pulled off to the side.

 

 

We stopped for the night at Egilsstaðir.  The campground is fantastic because there are indoor showers and a place for me to sit and write the blog inside a warm room. The young woman who checked us in told us that there are senior rates for many places and gave us the senior rate for this campground. We will have to ask for that in the future.

I stayed up until after 200 working on the blog; went to sleep; woke up this morning to a warm shower where I could get dressed indoors; and continued working on the blog.

Sirrý is extremely knowledgeable about the area and gave us so much wonderful information about where to go over the next couple of days.  She is studying to be a speech pathologist.  Elaine and I both love meeting the Icelandic people and having time to talk with them.