September 9, 2007
Akureyri is a modern, friendly, spotlessly clean and very compact city. Ocean currents keep the climate warmer than one would expect. It hard to realize that it is only a short distance from the Arctic Circle.
One of the must-sees of the north is the area around Lake Myvatn, known for its bizarre rock formations. It is the largest breeding ground for ducks in Europe, despite the fact that it in in a still active volcanic district. Incidentally, Iceland grows approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch per year due to the volcanic activity.
One third of the world's volcanoes are in Iceland. Fortunately most of them are of the friendly sort. Bubbling geothermal springs and richly colored mineral deposits remind one that the center of the earth is closer than they think.
Some of the craters we saw were not true volcanoes. Rather, they are rocky basins formed when hot lava bubbled onto waterlogged ground and exploded to the surface, forcing the hot stone into various shapes like cones and craters.
We elected to take a bus tour of this part of Iceland, the route of which is shown on the map above. Although we traveled to a bridge that crossed the fjord and began our inland journey the sequence of photos showing the homes and business buildings really happened at the end of the trip.
The homes are built very similar to what we are accustomed to with the exception that metal seems to be the roof of choice.
Also vertical metal siding is dominant on the homes.
Our guide mentioned that there is a tendency to use a lot of different colors due to the bleakness of the winters.
In the distance we can see the bridge that we will cross. It is supported by a series of stone berms. The appear as earthen bumps in the water. The view on the right photo was taken as we crossed the bridge.
We can see the starkness of the landscape as we near the shore opposite the town. The photo on the right is the airport runway taken from the far shore.
This is a new summer cabin being built. We were surprised to learn that a large number of people from New York own property and live here part time.
Our first stop is at a geothermal area reminiscent of that seen in Yellowstone Park.
The air had a strong smell of sulfur. At this point we will leave to our next destination -- Myvatn, an area of intense geological activity.
The steam rising from the ground is escaping the ground. The photos above are of a plant that captures the how water and pumps it to a town through insulated pipes for use in homes and factories. The temperature of the water when it exits a faucet in a home is 195 degrees.
A short way from here is the village of Migakolska. The lake that was formed by volcanic activity is called Lake Myvatn. The nickname "Devil's Piss" comes from the legend that states, "When God had created the world the Devil was mad with jealousy. He urinated towards the sun in order to extinguish this glory of the creation. Fortunately, he missed, but from the urine Lake Myvatn was formed.
The area we will explore requires a walk of about a half mile through very rugged lava forms. It is also nicknames the valley of the trolls and we saw a number of them as we walked through.
Using your imagination, can you see the profile of a face in the formation in the photo above?
This is obviously a married couple. Do you see the wife on the left talking to the husband on the right?
We leave and head for our next stop. It is an area of what we would call "sink holes." In this area they are formed when voids at the bottom of volcanic pockets fall and become filled with water.
This is a motel restaurant that is on the shore of Lake Myvatn where we once again dined on salmon.
I just love signs. After lunch we took a stroll around the nearby property to get a view of the sink holes.
From here we ventured to see the Godafoss waterfall.
Godafoss is one of Iceland's most accessible waterfalls. The name, which means Falls of the Gods, has nothing to do with poetic beauty. Rather, it recalls an event about 1,000 A.D., when Iceland still followed the Norse religion. The chieftain Porgeir meditated for 24 hours on what he had learned from missionaries, then decided that Iceland should become a Christian nation. On his way home, he decided to underscore his decision by throwing his carvings of the old gods into the waterfall. And that decided the issue.
From our guide we learned that about 98% of the people practice the Lutheran faith. We found it interesting that she spoke of going to mass each Sunday.
The bridge that crosses the river went through some extensive restoration a couple of years ago. The stone embankments had been eroded away by the river that it was in danger of collapsing.
We begin our return journey back to Akureyri. We drive for about 3/4 hour and begin to see signs of the city.
As stated at the beginning, we drove around the town with a narrated tour. Finally, after 6 hours on the road we return to our ship and begin our journey to Reykjavik, Iceland, its capital city. The photo on the upper right is the pilot boat that is delivering the pilot to assist the captain with our departure to the sea.
As we depart we get our last views of the city as well as some stunning views along the fjord. It had been foggy and raining when we entered so this was a real treat.
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