Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Green Witch's Report: Days Three and Four...Reykjavik

For those of you not familiar with Iceland, Reykjavik, its capital, is located in the southwest region of the island.  So our ship began its Icelandic journey in the north central region...worked its way around the Westfjords in the far northwest, and then moved down in the southwest, where were to spend two days in and around Reykjavik, continuing travel in the Golden Circle and bathing in the Blue Lagoon.  The most important landmark was Thingvellir National Park, the setting for Iceland's open-air parliament in Viking times. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one I was really keen on seeing, as I used to teach all about Norse Mythology and the Vikings.  The scenery was dramatic and fishermen and hikers were out and about, their rivers rich with trout and salmon...



Soon we were hiking to the top, to the place where law was set and carried out.  Harsh law, with punishments ranging from beheadings to drownings in the rushing rivers and falls.  This spot also marks where the North American and European continental plates continue to drift apart at a rate of approximately one inch per year, literally ripping Iceland in half.



Below, the Icelandic flag marks the exact meeting spot...a dramatic picture here, with the distorted lava rock formations looming in the background.  Icelanders are very proud of this heritage for it was here in 930 A.D. that the island's 36 chieftains would meet in General Assembly (known as the Alping) to settle disputes, sometimes by combat.  The red stands for the volcanoes, the white for the glaciers, and the blue for the oceans and sky...the cross for Christianity.



The peaceful scene of a church below, Thingvellir Church, is a reminder of the Alping of 1000 A.D. when, despite strong opposition by Pagan priests, the Icelandic nation adopted Christianity as its sole religion.  Although the church was built in 1859, its pulpit dates to 1683.



Following this, off we set through the countryside, Icelandic horses a favorite of everyone's, as well as the mirror lakes...such a wide expanse of sky and lake!!  It seemed to go on forever!



From a distance we could see massive glaciers...and Mount Hekla, which has erupted over a dozen times since Iceland was settled, the last major stirrings in the 1940s.  It's still a popular hiking spot!



Here, a picture of a peaceful church, almost Viking in design, and the curious little white-tufted plants, which I've come to know is white cotton grass that grows along the roadsides...aren't they cute?  They look like little trolls having their own General Assembly...



From here we went on to the geothermal pools and geysers and then to grand Gullfoss Falls, which I have already shared in yesterday's post.  Reykjavik is growing into quite a city, with a population of, I  believe, approximately 340,000.  But don't quote me on that.  Reykjavik (pronounced "Ray-ka-vick") literally means "smoke bay."  Is it any wonder with all the geothermal pools?  Below you see a panoramic of the city, some beautiful homes (astronomical in cost, btw) and their famous glass concert hall, Harpa.  Sorry about the whale watching boat there...I took the picture right off the harbor...





The next day we were off to the Blue Lagoon, Iceland's most famous and beautiful geothermal spa, which is literally set in a desolate lava wilderness.  It happened to be what they referred to as a real Viking day...cold, windy, and foggy, but the hot waters, silica and seaweed face masks, and a nice bubbly to sip made it a morning to savor.  Ahhhhh....



Sadly, we had one more stop to make in Iceland...to Djupivogur, which lies on the east central coast of Iceland.  We were all looking so forward to it, Icelanders and cruisers alike.  Unfortunately the fog was so thick we couldn't stop, so on we sailed to Scotland, our ship's captain having our best interests at heart.  I love whales and we spotted a pod of humpbacks on our journey out, a great way to say "Bless," which is "goodbye" in Icelandic.  Perfect indeed.



We also visited Norway and Scotland, but this little Green Witch wanted to share only about this fantastic and far-flung, wild and free island....

"Ay, ay!  We sailors sail not in vain.  We expatriate ourselves to nationalize with the universe."

                                                                        from Herman Melville's White Jacket, 1850

© 2017 Nancy Duncan


3 comments:

  1. What a wonderful adventure! Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos with us!

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  2. Glad to do it, as it is a country many people have not visited...but that's changing. Now it's back to working on Goody Prymm (boy, I've missed her and Remember!) and stitching!

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