24.07.2014 - 24.07.2014 16 °C
On Thursday, a long day was spend in the biggest beast of a 4WD I've ever been in. This thing was made to conquer Iceland. Actually it's for tourism and rescue. In Iceland, they buy normal 4WDs then put the chassis on a humongous platform with the most monstrous wheels you have ever seen on a street legal machine.
Ref. super jeep wikipedia
Alfred the self proclaimed Viking was our guide and driver and we were his only passengers. Let's go!
First stop was the site of the first European Parliament at Thingvellir which is also where the European and North American tectonic plates meet. In the not so distant past the ravine between the cliffs was a road, yes a road! Also here, is a crystal clear brook 20m deep, called Peningagjá. The king of Denmark visited in 1874 and threw a coin into the water declaring he would return to Iceland one day. Since then visitors throw money in there. It isn't full of money, just the right amount for a pretty silvery glinting but some poor sod must have to get in there and retrieve the coins. It is Cold.
The first huge waterfall of our trip was Gullfoss. This two tiered powerful waterfall ultimately tumbles into a narrow canyon so deep that you cannot see the bottom. You can see the mist rising from the road because the falls are lower than the land.
A word about Iceland's idea of safety. There is scarcely a barrier between the idiot tourist and death. A piddly little string separates you from the spectacle. Whilst not wanting to witness anything that causes me PTSD, I did watch in amazement as people stepped over the ropes to pose for that so important snap. If Iceland ever enters the EU, then that will change. Another reason to visit Iceland!
Here's a story that Alfred the Viking guide told us. The last person to live in a cave in Iceland was the grandmother of his friend. She moved out of the cave in 1950. Alfred's friend lives in Manhattan. Worlds apart or what?
The capability of the superjeep was demonstrated in a trip to the Langjökull glacier (second largest in Europe) and part of the Vatnajökull national park. Bumps, potholes and corrugations are not apparent to the passengers. This thing literally rolls over huge obstacles and climbs steep ascents with no trouble. At times I would think, no we cannot possible go that way but nup, we conquered. Being in the front seat was tops!
The glacier was icy and wet and black with old volcanic ash. It was like standing in a black and white photograph, then the mist and rain came so we left quickly. Having a heavy vehicle on the glacier edge can be a bit dangerous.
Another interesting sight was the Kerid crater. She is a witch, evil and bad luck but beautiful. Inside is a pool of very blue water 14m deep. One summer, a floating platform was placed on the surface and a brave orchestra played a concert for the audience sitting around the crater. All in the name of good acoustics, it must have been awesome.
I haven't even mentioned Geysir...... Most people know about that place, for me I was expecting a sulphurous stench like in Rotorua (New Zealand) but was pleasantly surprised to discover it was not that smelly. Could this have something to do with the fact that my morning shower pours over me smelling like hard boiled egg? Am I becoming desensitised to hydrogen sulphide? Apparently hot water in Reykjavik is famous for its hot water pong.
You cannot escape smells, the other one here is the pervading ever present aroma of cooked fish.
Iceland provides something for all 5 senses. I hope to say more in the next few days.