So we headed to Iceland this summer, about five years after I first started pining to go. Good thing it took that long -- that place is expensive enough that it took about five years of savings to pull it off! :-). That said, it was worth every penny. It is a photographers paradise, unique in every respect, uncommon beauty and adventure everywhere. There simply is no other word besides epic to really describe it, much to the joy of my little viking in training (at least judging by the length of his hair!).
In the middle of a hot summer, Iceland offered 60 degree highs (lows in the upper thirties), cooling rain, brisk cool winds, waterfalls beyond counting, glaciers, volcanos, a sun whose light never fully disappeared so you had time to get in every adventure, kind people who all spoke english, very fresh seafood, and the most amazing, cool, pure, fresh and tasty tap water on the entire planet. Who could ask for more?
We flew on a redeye into Keflavik, about 45 minutes south east of Reykjavik, where we picked up this beauty from McRent Iceland:
which turned out to be a great decision. It was surprisingly spacious yet small enough to drive without a lot of difficulty, and as campgrounds are everywhere, and rarely fill up (they are basically big grassy fields where people park anywhere), it provided a flexibility that was well worth the price. It was a manual transmission, which took me back years, to my early experience driving trucks on Grandpa Aldin's farm -- an added nostalgic bonus for me.
We stocked up at the first grocery store we saw, where we learned that the people may speak english, but their food labels are an entirely different story (mystery meat, anyone?). Actually, most of the food was pretty easy to identify, and they had great milk, normal cereals, pasta, pasta sauce, pancake mix, etc. -- you know, the basic camping staples. A quick brunch of strip mall salmon (I know, what part of that does not shout "Danger Will Robinson! Danger!" but it was quite good and amazingly fresh), and we were off to our first destination, Thingvillir National Park, about 36 km outside of Reykjavik.
At first, it may not seem like much, but it is literally a place where the world is splitting apart. The Atlantic rift zone runs right down the middle of the park, and evidence of it is everywhere.
There are similar escarpments on the other side of the lake and broad rift valley, running parallel, and you realize the whole middle part is sinking, to be filled only with lava from the fiery depths.
Turns out, not surprisingly, that there was no reason to worry -- it is just a beautiful wonderland down there:
And apparently stable enough for the prime minister to have built a summer residence in the place.
It is also the home of the Logberg, literally, "law rock" where every year for a long time starting in 930 AD, the first parliament of Iceland met --really, a meeting of all the vikings, where laws for the upcoming year were voted on, and then read from the rock and assented to by all present, for the governance of their actions in the upcoming year. Quite civilized for a group of people otherwise known for pillaging and other unpleasant sundries. Here is a picture of the place, marked by the flag pole.
Not bad for a day in which we didn't really get anything other than plane quality sleep. We stayed in the campground near this beautiful, awesome place, wondering what the next day's travel would bring.