Posted tagged ‘Golden Circle Tour’

Chilling In Iceland

July 24, 2012

Iceland is a beautifully relaxed place. We haven’t seen any actual ice, but the land itself is surreally lovely. I don’t know what I was expecting, exactly, but the countryside is far more interesting than I’d imagined.

It’s a new land, raw, volcanic. Here’s a volcanic caldera, a sort of mini Crater Lake, only redder.

Thick mosses are the first things to grow over new lava flows.

It’s a land of water, and the power of water, as the mighty Gullfoss falls demonstrate. All cold water in the country is free, and hot water and electricity are very cheap. Homes and buildings are heated by geothermal power,

as the water comes out of the ground boiling hot.

In places it just boils up out of the ground gently,

whereas here at Geysir it bursts forth spectacularly every 8-10 minutes.

Much of the landscape is soft and soggy, in the most picturesque way possible.

It’s a perfect setting for geese

and for the beautiful Icelandic horses. These guys were friendly and curious, two traits that are said to be characteristic of their breed, as well as a fifth gait possessed only by the horses of Iceland.

We heard a lot about the special horse-man relationship that exists here, and allows everyone to survive the brutal winters.

We also learned that Lutheranism is the state religion of Iceland, and that the ministers are state employees, supported by state taxes. That vertical rock face is the North American side of the Atlantic Ridge,

the only place in the world above water where the Euro-Asian and North American tectonic plates converge. So right here it’s possible to be in Iceland and in North America at the same time, in an abstract sort of way.

Lutheranism may prevail, but ancient superstitions are still alive, and many Icelanders apparently still believe in trolls,

elves, and fairies. I’ll let you decide about that, but a country where all health care is free and so is all education up through university is bound to be inhabited by good spirits of some description.

And thanks to my own personal troll for his striking photos of Gullfoss and Geysir, as well as the shot of my delightful new bonnet.