Daily Archives: 10/04/2007

A Trip to Iceland – Whale Watching

Published by:

Me and the sea do not get on. I get sea sickness.

I remember many years ago, with a group of fellow scuba divers, we borrowed a large motor launch, and sailed out into the Red Sea, off Saudi Arabia, to Fifteen Mile Reef, to spend two days out at sea, diving as much as possible. I spent much of the time being sea sick, turning every colour you could think of.

Strange I was later to live on a boat for six years, a 52 foot (16 mtr) ocean going Dicken’s Class vessel, Mr Toots.

I was prepared, I had my sea sickness tablets, and I took one before leaving the hotel.

A short distance from the Hotel Klopp, is the port of Reykjavík, not large, but full of ships.

                                                   see other Iceland entries, click

A Trip to Iceland – The Golden Circle

Published by:

An early start the second day, well 8:30am. We are to go on a 10 hour tour called the Golden Circle in a super jeep, to see some of Iceland’s natural phenomena.

The tour operator’s have these tours really well organised. Mini buses pick-up clients from individual hotels and take them to a central tour bus depot, where payments are made and the clients transfered to larger buses.

Three super jeeps, each with about eight people set off from Reykjavik, transit vans modified with big wheels.

Super jeeps on Langjökull glacier

Our first stop-off was a two hour journey to the Langjökull glacier. We certainly needed a four wheel drive as we left the tarmac roads, taking a lava track road, up towards the glacier.

We were told how the Langjökull glacier was receding, especially over the past five years, something the driver of our super jeep had noticed himself, and he predicted that not so far in the future the glacier will disappear completely.

As we climbed, the track got rougher, with deep tracks to negotiate, and we entered the snow band. It was surprising to see small lakes in the ice flow, so blue.

On the Langjökull glacier

On arrival, we were issued with a crash helmet, and a jumpsuit or thick overalls to place over our own thick clothes, I felt like Michelin man. But I was warm. Very warm.

After a short introduction to safety and how to ride and control a snowmobile, we set off one behind the other, up and onto the glacier, for one hour of freezing exhilaration. The flat ice of the glacier melted into the sky, and I became mesmerised by the singular white landscape racing past me, as I tried to keep the snowmobile riding in a straight line. Of cause it did, it just felt very strange, as I used to ride scooters or motorbikes, or bikes, as you turn a corner you lean the machine. Not with a snowmobile.

From the glacier, we traveled down to the Gullfoss waterfall, where the glacier waters fall producing a spray that freezes on the fences in long icicles, and feels extremely cold on the face.

Gullfoss Waterfall

Again, frozen to the bone, we boarded the super jeep for our next destination, the world renowned geothermal area around Geysir hot spring. As we approached the area, steam rose into the sky like smoke from chimneys.

We were warned not to place our hands in the water to test the temperature as it was very hot (100 degrees C). Obviously, some people did not hear this warning as I noticed more than one person test the water, only to pull the hand away quickly. Boiling.

Pools of hot water steamed from the hot springs, heated by the inner earth, rock heated by magma, the water overflowed and ran down to Geysir itself.

Geysir, Iceland

Here was a hole in the ground, and hot water flowed down into it, filling it to the rim. Every few minutes a great gush and a column of hot water shot into the air, showering unsuspecting visitors who walked downwind.

Leaving the warmth of the Geysir hot springs we entered the Thingvellir national park, where two tectonic plates, the American and Eurasian, are slowly drifting apart and the oldest parliament in the world was founded in 930 by the Vikings.

This is where our guide on the Northern Lights tour had told us about the fissures, enough to swallow a man. When we walked into the area the bus had parked the previous evening, it was a big tarmacked car park, and not a crack to be seen.

Oh how our minds can build mountains from mole hills.

The great wall of the American tectonic plate rose above us. It was strange to walk in the fissure, the main divide.

The American tectonic plate rose above us

A wondrous day, an adventure I was glad to have made.

I am sure there will be many metaphors to be made from my journey to be told in my courses.

                                                        see other Iceland entries, click