106 Photos - Jun 6, 2016
Photo: I arrived in Iceland around 7 AM on May 23nd.  We took a walk near our hotel and visited a sculpture garden.Photo: These sculptures were made by Asmundur Sveinsson, one of Iceland's first sculpture artists.Photo: Our group took a public bus to the downtown area.  A long time ago, this building was built to be a jail.  Now it houses the the president of Iceland!Photo: Swans and other birds enjoyed Reykjavik Lake right in the center of town.Photo: We took a walk around the town to see what the homes and businesses looked like.Photo: There were a lot of buildings that had aluminum siding or roofs.Photo: This building had a wonderful mosiac on the side of it.Photo: Today we leave Reykjavik.  Deildartunguhver thermal hot springs is the most powerful hot springs in Europe.  It produces 180 liters a second and he supplies 2 towns and green houses with heat.Photo: Iceland is a volcanic island with a lot of thermal activity.  They said that hot steam or water could be struck anywhere in Iceland if you just drilled down far enough.Photo: Hraunfossar waterfalls stretches 2,900' and consist of countless springs of glacial water that emerge from between layers of lava.  The birch tree on the left is just starting to leaf out.Photo: Next we visited Reykholt.  A church has been on this site since the 11th century.  This church was built in 1886.Photo: The interior of the church was lovely.Photo: An underground tunnel connected the home of the chieftain and saga writer, Snorri Sturluson (13th century) to his hot water bath.  It is probably the oldest one in the world.Photo: We stopped at the Saga Center in Borgarfjorour to learn more about the early settlers.  I hiked around the area and saw this interesting statue.Photo: I saw the first lupines here.Photo: I had enough time to walk around town and visit the church at the top of the hill.Photo: In the late afternoon we stopped for the night in Stykkisholmur, a small fishing village.  Fishing has been important here for centuries.Photo: This is the largest town on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.  The total populartion of Iceland is 330,000 people.Photo: The design of a modern church was near our hotel.Photo: The interior of this Lutheran church featured a painting by a famous Icelandic artistPhoto: This morning our tour will visit the Snaefellsnew Peninsula (a National Park).  This beach is called Buoir Beach.Photo: Buoir is one of the few beaches that had light colored sand.  Even on this lovely beach, Iceland's volcanic lava is present.Photo: These flowers were less than one half inch across and very low to the ground.  They were my first wild flowers.Photo: Arnarstapi was our next stop.  There were a lot of nesting birds on it's rocky cliffs.Photo: Artic Terns fly from their nesting area to the South Pole and back each year.  They spend about five months each year migrating.Photo: The "Journey to the Center of the Earth" was set in this area.Photo: The lava formations were amazing!Photo: More lava formations in the same area.Photo: The walking path to the beach lead us to an area that was the largest spring fishing site from the 16th to the 19th century.Photo: There were round stones of various sizes near the beach.  When a fisherman went to sea, he lifted the largest one he could.  It determined how much he would be paid from the catch.Photo: A typical Icelandic beach has black sand.Photo: The waves were big and swimming wasn't safe.Photo: My friend Sharon and I wore many layers of clothes.Photo: Eiriksstaoir was our first stop this morning where we saw this replica of Eric the Red's (Leif Erikson's father) long house from the 10th century.Photo: There are more than 80,000 Icelandic horses on the island.  We stopped at a Gauksmyri horse farm to learn more.Photo: The Icelandic horse has five gaits, instead of the three of most horses.  The lady demonstrated how some of the gaits were so smooth she wouldn't spill her beer as she rode.Photo: After the demonstration we were able to visit the stables.  These horses were smaller and had more mane and tail than the traditional horse.Photo: These are Icelandic sheep dogs.Photo: I shot this very successful farm from the bus window.Photo: We stopped at the Miklibaer Church in Skagafjorour.  The alterpiece, made by ladies of the church, took three years to complete.Photo: This part depicts the typical Icelandic horses, swans, and sheep.  Their minister was the second female ordained in Iceland.  She was responsible for eight small churches.Photo: Most of Iceland's mountains are short and flat or rounded.  This area actually had a sawtooth look and were higher.Photo: Godafoss waterfall drops forty feet into the pool below.  The glacial river water wasn't it's normal light blue color today because of all of the water.Photo: The pagan chief threw his idols into these falls when Iceland adopted Christianity In 1000.Photo: We visited another geothermal area and saw mudpots.  There are thirty active volcanos in the region.Photo: At Dimmuborgir we walked around some fantastic lava formations.  These are supposed to look like two trolls kissing!Photo: Lake Myvatn, known for its diverse bird populations, was sculpted by volcanic eruptions.Photo: This "pseudo crater" was created around 2,300 years ago when lava flowed over a liquid source, causing  an explosion of steam through the lava.Photo: Myvatn Lake is home to many birds.Photo: Swans are a common sight in Iceland.   I saw many sitting in fields, and not in the water as I would have expected.Photo: A sheep usually has two lambs in the spring.  Both male and female adults have horns but the female's are much smaller.Photo: Akureyri, the second largest town in Iceland, is where we stayed for three days.Photo: We stopped at Akureyri Botanical Gardens on our way back to our hotel.  It was very nice, but a ittle early for flowers.Photo: This is a form of night shade.Photo: I loved the color in this one!Photo: Many of the mountains were formed during the ice age that ended here about 10,000 years ago.Photo: When the lava came to the surface, the glacial ice prevented it from building the traditional volcano, resuling in low, flat mountains.Photo: We had a warm, sunny day at the harbor of Dalvik where we left for our whale watching excursion.Photo: I was surprised that whale watching was done in a fjord, and not on the open ocean.  We cruised for about an hour before we saw our first whale.Photo: Humpback whales put on a wonderful show!Photo: This was quite a day, with the whales and porpoise and also such wonderful scenery!Photo: On the way back to the dock some of the people fished for cod.  This is Karen and her catch.  It was cold and we were all issued a full length, heavily padded jumpsuit.Photo: The fish were cleaned and made ready for a barbecue that we all enjoyed when we got back in port.Photo: Many ladies were knitting as the local people enjoyed this unusually warm and sunny weather.Photo: We went through three tunnels to get to Siglufjorour, Iceland's northernmost town.Photo: This was a very cute family!  They were the only baby ducks that I saw.Photo: The herring fishing industry employed 3,000 full-time workers and thousnads of seasonal workers for over four decades.  This shows a kitchen of the female workers.Photo: More bords!Photo: After a flight south, we drove to Pinguellin National Park where we saw the major rift between the American and the Eurasian tectonic plates. The plates are separating one inch a year.  They are now four miles apart.Photo: Iceland boasts the world's oldest pariliament, formed here in 930 AD.  This "drownding pool" was where seventeen women were said to have been killed for having a child out of wedlock.Photo: Our next stop on the Golden Circle was the "Geysir" area.  Stokkur goes off every three to seven minutes and reaches a height of 80-100 feet,  a little less than our Old Faithful.Photo: Fields of lupines are common in this region.Photo: Gullfoss waterfalls has three tiers of rushing water that flow into a one hundred foot crevice. There was a lot of spray and noise.Photo: It was gray outside, but I was still a happy camper!  I had four top layers on.Photo: The Seljalandsfoss waterfall cascades about two hundred feet over rocky clifts.  We walked behind it to view it from the back.Photo: The southern part of the island is much greener.  Here they cut hay three times during the summer, and in the north only once.Photo: This is where the Eyjafjallajokull eruption of 2010 occurred, snarling air traffic throughout Europe.  We saw a film of the effect it had on this farm.Photo: The two hundred foot Skogafoss waterfall on the Skoga River is almost fifty feet wide.Photo: I was always trying for the perfect lamb picture.  I got pretty close to this little family, making mama pretty unhappy.Photo: We drove onto the top of Dyrholaey - a hilly island and the southermost point in Iceland.  This is where puffins can usually be viewed, but we didn't find any.Photo: Some birds were nesting here, but the puffins hadn't arrived yet.Photo: This plant is called "roseroot".Photo: We took a jeep tour to visit a glacier.  This unusable land served as a location for shooting parts of Star Wars, Noah, and Game of Thrones.Photo: This is the Myrdalsjokull glacier from a distance.Photo: After a bumpy thirty minute ride we hiked to this spot.  I was very close before I realized that this was actually the glacier, and not rocks.  I was able to touch it.Photo: I kept looking for quilt stores.  Our leader suggested this place, but it was basically a wool shop.  Each of these large balls of wool yarn is enough to make a sweater.Photo: Wool roving comes in a lot of pretty colors.Photo: We visited the Espiflot greenhouses where they use geothermal energy to grow various flowers.Photo: The original gerbera plants come from Denmark and produce flowers for two to four years.Photo: Isn't it beautiful?  These plants are heated year round and are in constant light.Photo: Bunches of roses are graded, cut, and packaged for sale locally.Photo: Chrysanthemums mature in twelve weeks from starts that come from Africa.  They are cut once and the plant is discarded.  The flowers on the right are ready for harvest.  The buds on the left will be ready in a week.Photo: Our group after an hour of river rafting on the 38 degree Hvita glacial river.  Even with these clothes we were cold and wet, but it sure was a fun experience!Photo: On our way back to Reykjavik we stopped at the geothermal power plant at Hellisheidi.  Iceland produces more energy and hot water per person than any other country.  Norway is second and only produces half as much.Photo: This map shows the location of the tectonic plates and geothermal hot spots. Iceland is at the top center. San Diego is on the San Andres fault between the Pacific and North American plates.Photo: Iceland produces enough geothermal heat to warm the sidewalks and roads in Reykjavik and even heat a small ocean beach.Photo: On our last day we visited the famous "Blue Lagoon".  It was very big and you could  bathe or swim there.Photo: Applying mud to your face is supposed to make you look younger.  We decided that with three applications we might have a better chance of success!Photo: I tried everywhere to find a quilt shop.  I finally found one on my last full day!  It has been opened for about forty years and maybe it is the only one in Iceland.Photo: Most of their material  and patterns came from the US.  This is their batik section.Photo: It was very similar to a good quilt shop in the US.  I couldn't see buying any of our material and paying more money there.Photo: I bought the pattern for the Christmas tree skirt in the middle to see if Kristen and Chris would like it.Photo: Our final group stop was at the National Museum of Iceland.  This shows the old national dress, popular until the mid-18th century.Photo: The warp weighted loom was used in Europe in early times.  It could make twenty inches of fabric in a day.Photo: The Sumargledi Hallgrimskirkju church is one of the best known landmarks of Reykjavik.  It is pretty plain inside except for this gorgeous pipe organ.Photo: This view of the 244 foot high church completes my Icelandic saga!