Friday, July 31, 2009

Fjallsárlón


Fjallsárlón is a glacier lake at the tip of the Fjallsárjökull glacier, a small tongue of the larger Vatnajökull.

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The highway used to go right past the lake, as can be seen from this remnant of a bridge that stands on the bank of the river. There are four of these pillars altogether, and I don't know if a flood took the actual bridge, or if it was simply removed when the road was taken out of use.

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A dark leviathan of an iceberg is dwarfed by the majestic size of the glacier. It was quite cold up there, but the tranquility and peacefulness of the place have to be experienced to be believed.

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A clump of glacial ice on the bank of the lake. Glacier ice has been exported for advertising purposes - apparently it keeps making cracking noises for longer than regular freezer-made ice.


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A tiny plant near the lake. The rain and cold have made its petals transparent like glassine paper.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Svínafellsjökull


You can drive off the main road a few kilometers east of the service area in Skaftafell national park and take a short gravel road up to where the tongue of the Svínafellsjökull glacier comes down into a small glacial lagoon.

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Judging from the spots of sunlight falling on the glacier, a dogsledding or snowcat tour on the glacier might have been better than driving in the foggy rain down in the lowlands.


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To judge the size of the glacier, take a look at the man standing at the edge of the lagoon.

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If you thought glaciers were all pure driven snow and bluish ice, you were wrong. Sandstorms and volcanic eruptions deposit sand and ash on the glaciers, and as they crawl across the landscape they churn up sand and gravel that gets pushed up through cracks in the ice. It then gets left behind when the top layers of ice/snow melt off.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pretty poison


The flowering season for Laburnum has just finished. Here is a photo for those who want to enjoy it a little longer:
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This tree is situated in a small, peaceful garden behind the Kringlan shopping mall

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Typical...


I had two long single-lane bridges to cross that day, and got stuck behind bicyclists on both of them. Fortunately it was possible to overtake this one.
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Compared with some touring cyclists one seen on the Icelandic highways in the summer, this one had remarkably little luggage. Most of the others have not just the front and back panniers, but also a day-pack and sometimes a full-size backpack on their backs.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Seljarlandsfoss


This magnificent waterfall is a tourist attraction in itself, and used to be right by the highway, but is now a few kilometers off it, on a side road.

Seljalandsfoss


Seljalandsfoss


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rain


Rain in still weather offers a great opportunity to take beautiful macros:
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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Núpsstaður


This old farm has buildings dating from the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The church (not shown here) is the oldest of the buildings.


An old jeep (a Willis, I think) lends a splash of red and yellow to an otherwise mostly green and brown farmscape:


An ancient tractor seems to be slowly becoming a feature of the landscape, although it wouldn't surprise me if you could still drive it:
One good thing about the rain: it makes the grass grow like crazy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Kirkjugólf: The Church Floor


Here are some more hexagonal columns. These are situated in the middle of a hayfield at Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Only the very tops can be seen.
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The discovery of this natural rock floor centuries ago led the finders to believe that it was man-made and it was thought to be the remains of the floor of a church they believed had stood there.

It was raining hard when I arrived at Klaustur, but the rain let up for a short while so I was able to inspect the Kirkjugólf without getting soaked.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reynisdrangar


These distinctive sea stacks are called Reynisdrangar and are situated just off the shore near Vík í Mýrdal. The coast is very treacherous in this area and waves have occasionally swept people off their feet and the current has carried them out to sea.
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Legend explains the provenance of these rocks as being a night troll that was pulling a three-masted ship to shore but was caught by the dawn and turned to stone.
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Here is a gorgeous panorama of the rocks and the area around them. You can even see the clouds that were directly above the photographer's head!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More from the Skógar museum


The museum at Skógar is actually several museums rolled into one. One corner of the basement area contains a small natural history collection, mostly birds, both stuffed and skeletal. Then there is this small collection of unusual sheep:

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These four-horned sheep are not hugely uncommon in Iceland and some farmers breed them. I have seen them with three, four and five horns, but four seems to be the most common number.

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Unusual horn placement.


We now move into freak-show territory:
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Still life with fish


Another still life from Skógar. Dried fish is called "skreið" in Icelandic and was a common way of storing fish before the advent of freezers. It took a lot of beating to make it edible, and then it would usually be torn into strips, buttered and eaten like bread.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Gljúfurárfoss


This unusual and beautiful waterfall bears two names: Gljúfurárfoss (Canyon River Falls) and Gljúfrabúi ("the one who lives in the canyon").

It is close to the better known Seljarlandsfoss, of which I will post some photos next week.
Gljúfurárfoss


Gljúfurárfoss


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Still life

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Animal skulls create a ghostly atmosphere inside one of the turf houses at the Skógar Museum.

Shortly after I arrived at Hólar it started raining. The rain was the fine, dense kind that can soak you to the skin in an incredibly short amount of time, and was accompanied by fog. It was warm outside, and when I was driving away there was steam coming off the tarmac and rising up to meet the rain.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cave dwelling


This sheep house is situated in southern Iceland. It's right by highway 1, so if you're driving there you can't miss it.
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The cave was (is?) used for storing hay.

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A smaller cave that is entered from the inside of the big one is thought to have been used as a smithy during the middle ages.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Garðskagaviti


This is the older of the two current lighthouses at Garðskagi. The place is well worth visiting, not only for the lighthouses, but for the sea-views and the beach and the bird-life.

Garðskagaviti


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Baaaa!


Icelandic sheep actually say "meeeee!" not "baaa!", but you get the picture. When I got back from sketching the memorial to Þorsteinn Erlingsson in the little memorial grove, I found this ewe and lamb by the gate. The ewe was looking hungrily at the grass inside the fence, proving the old adage that the grass is always greener on the other side.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Nameless but pretty waterfall


This waterfall doesn't seem to have a name, but it's lovely to look at anyway. It is situated in Fljótshlíð, a historically rich area of southern Iceland, near a small memorial grove dedicated to Icelandic poet Þorsteinn Erlingsson, who was born and raised on a nearby farm.


Smáfoss við Hlíðarendakot


Smáfoss við Hlíðarendakot


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Icelandic Viking-era farmhouse


One of the places I visited was the Viking-era farm at Stöng in Þjórsárdalur, and its replica, Þjóðveldisbærinn near the Búrfellsvirkjun hydro-electrical power station.

To get there, you turn off the road shortly before reaching Búrfellsvirkjun, onto a fairly good unpaved road and drive for about 15-20 minutes to reach the ruins. The house is believed to have fallen into ruin in the Hekla eruption of 1104.

The ruins were dug up by archeologists in the 1930s and 40s, and a house was built over them to shield them from the effects of wind and weather. Here you can see the side of the house. I wouldn't mind having a view like that:
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It's not a good idea to be there in the dark, since there is no electricity up there. Bring a flash if you want to take photos inside. The house could do with some repairs, as several windows are broken. The guest-book got filled in 2008.
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The layout of the building:
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A model of the building as it is thought to have looked like:
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Location: The Saga Museum, Hvolsvöllur.


Things you might have seen inside:
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The weaving room.
Location: The Þjóðveldisbær.

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A cooking pot hung from the ceiling. In the background are sleeping platforms.
Location: The Þjóðveldisbær.


What the inhabitants might have worn:
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Location: The Saga Museum, Hvolsvöllur.


A chapel outside the Þjóðveldisbær. The design is based on what the churches of the time are thought to have looked like, based on archaeological clues.
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A trough made of stone, outside the ruins at Stöng. It may have been for feeding animals or washing laundry. :
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A sod wall at the Þjóðveldisbær.
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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Recommended website

I came across this website about things to do for free in Reykjavík. If you are broke (or just stingy) and want to find some free activities in the city, it's a good place to start.

Hvalsneskirkja


This beautiful little church has a special place in my heart. My grandfather is buried in the graveyard and some of my cousins were married in the church.

It was consecrated in 1887. It is built of rock and driftwood and is protected.


Hvalsneskirkja

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Mighty little hunter


There were a lot of spiders in the lava around Hjálpaross, and for once I actually managed to take a photo of one that was in focus:
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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Hexagonal columns by hjálparfoss


Hjálparfoss is not only remarkable for its beauty, but also for its surroundings. All around the falls are walls of hexagonal columns that are beautiful in their disordered symmetry. Just take a look:


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STUÐLABERG


STUÐLABERG


Monday, July 06, 2009

Hjálparfoss

I took a week recently to travel around Iceland. The trip was mostly made along highway no. 1, the Ring Road, but with excursions off it whenever I knew of something interesting to explore. I am not going to present the photos from the trip in time sequence, but will be posting them willy-nilly. This is the first of several waterfall photos you will see here in the coming days and weeks. This waterfall is located in Þjórsárdalur near Búrfellsvirkjun and the Þjóðveldisbær, which is an attempt at reconstructing a medieval Icelandic farmhouse. The ruins of the original house are nearby and well worth seeing as well.

The name of the waterfall translate as "help falls".

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