Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Torshávn in the Faroe Islands

At the Harbour

Photos August 5 - 6, 2014

We spent a delightful few days in the Faroe Islands, mainly in Torshávn on the island of Streymoy. The population is less than 20,000.

Boats in the Harbour

It is possible that the first settlers were Irish hermits (and I presume other people or they would have died out). The Vikings were next and they established a parliament "Thing" as early as 850CE. The sod roofed houses you see at the end of the Tinganes peninsula is about where it was located.

Sod Roofs

There are a number of sod-roofed houses in the Faroe Islands - both historical and modern. The dark wood houses above were for the working class people.

Tinganes

The red coloured houses were owned by the merchants and shipping magnates. This area, while no longer the place where parliament actually sits, is still home to many offices of members of the parliament.

Cloud Shrouded Island

The islands are close to each other and are connected by bridges and tunnels. To get from the airport (on Vágar) we went through a 7km tunnel under the ocean to Streymoy.

Faroe Islands Horses

These horses were in a field around the corner from the house where we stayed  (I love the eyelashes). In another field were sheep. Sheep seem to be everywhere on the hills - small groups not large flocks.

Falling

And once again I was impressed with the amount of public art.

More photos at: Iceland and Faroe Islands album

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hallgrímskirkja

Hallgrímskirkja3

Photos: August 3, 2014

I think people either love or hate this church. Outside (just shows how one brings oneself to interpreting things) reminds me of organs pipes. I read somewhere that it is supposed to represent basalt columns such as we saw near Vik. Leif Eriksson stands outside the church - that famous Icelander who first set foot on North American soil.
Lief Eriksson

We kept running into the Leif Eriksson story - first in Eyrarbakki Bjarni Herjólfsson was from. He sold his boat to Leif who then sailed to North America in it and briefly established a settlement there. Later in our trip we went to the farm of Erik the Red, the father of Leif and saw the area where he was born.

Inside Hallgrímskirkja

There is something very uplifting, being in a building with high ceilings and tall windows. The eyes are drawn upward.  And I like the simplicity of Lutheran churches. You can find out more about the church here.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back to Reykjavik

On Laugavegur

Photos: August 4, 2014

Parts of Laugervegur are pedestrian only. These colourful bikes block off the car traffic.

We walked a lot - through many areas of Reykjavik. There is a pond with lots of waterfowl - and lots of reflections

On Tjörnin Pond

The Icelandic people are mainly Lutheran - churches tend to be simple inside.

Public Art

I always appreciate a city with lots of public art. I was impressed by the number of sculptures I passed. Some look a little depressed.

The Unknown Bureaucrat

And this one, the unknown bureaucrat gives a whole new meaning to blockhead.

Near City Hall

Architecture is simple - clean lines, not a lot of embellishment.

Colourful Houses

And sometimes it is very colourful.

For more photographs: Iceland album

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tectonic Plates

End of the North American Plate

Photos: August 3, 2014

This wall of rock is the end of the North American Plate. We were in Þingvellir, a place that is important both for the geology and the history.  It was here that the first "parliament" met and continued to meet until the late 1700s: the Alþing. The valley sits between the North American and Eurasian plates.

Small River

You can find out much more about the history at this site. I´ve been reading Nyall´s saga and the yearly trek to the Alþing features prominently.

Iceland flag

It is possible that legal decisions were pronounced where this flagpole stands.

Lake Þinvellir

The lake, Þingvallavatn,  has a wide variety of vegetation and invertebrates.

Looking out at the mountains

When you look out, there are mountains in every direction. They are dormant volcanoes. Who knows when they will once again become active. You can follow Iceland's many daily earthquakes and volcanic activity at http://en.vedur.is/earthquakes-and-volcanism/earthquakes

Geese

In addition to fish in the lake, there are geese on its shores.

More Iceland photos at: Iceland album



Friday, August 22, 2014

Puffins Rocks and More

Puffin

Photos: August 2, 2014

My original notion was not more than five photos from each day. But each day brought such beauty, such surprises, that I have not been able to stick to that. We spent part of the morning at Dyrhóleay where it is easy to watch the puffins. They nest on the cliffs, including on the sea stacks.

Sea Stack

They are constantly taking off to find food and landing with their bright orange feet reaching out as if putting on the brakes.

Black Sand at Dyrhóleay

The sand in the area is black. Water has carved out caves in the basalt. You can walk along the beach, in and out of caves.

Basalt Columns

A little farther along we stopped at Reynisfjara where the basalt columns look like a giant pipe organ. The textures in the nearby rock are fascinating.

Rock Formations

And farther up the cliffs - more puffins.

Reynesdrangar

Reynesdrangar - a sea stack out in the water. Incredible beauty everywhere we looked.

More photos can be found at: Iceland Album on flickr

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Earth Breathes and Water Rushes

Strokkur 2

Photos: August 1, 2014

Nothing quite prepared me for seeing a geyser shoot up. This one, Strokkur, erupts about every ten minutes. It is near the geyser that gave all geysers their name: Geysir (it only erupts rarely now). The height of each eruption varies, but each is astonishing. A column of boiling hot water shoots up, then falls leaving steam in the air. Much of the earth around is hot with steam venting out of holes. We had to walk on marked paths.

Steam Coming from the Field

There is a slight sulphur smell in the air.

Bubbling Up

Smaller pools bubble and send up small eruptions. Warnings state the water is between 80°C and 100°C - the boiling point.

A short drive away we stopped to walk to Gullfoss, an impressive waterfall. The view from the parking lot went all the way to Langjökull - the nearby glacier.

Looking Towards the Glacier

With few trees we can see long and wide.

Gullfoss

We walked down the path to Gullfoss, a waterfall that tumbles in two stages, first a smaller drop and then a long drop to the river below. Mist (now cool water droplets, not the steam of the geyser) rises high above the falls.

Gullfoss

A last stop that day was to Skogar folk museum where, among other things, they have relocated some houses representative of the way people lived in the past.

Skogur Museum

These sod roofed houses and sheds kept the cold out.

These and more photos: Iceland Album

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

On the Road in Iceland

Lava Field

Photos: July 31, 2014

We picked up a car to start our touring of the southern part of Iceland. In much of Iceland you see lava fields. This was our first chance to walk on one. The look of the field is difference depending on how long the lava has been there.

Beach at Eyrarbakki

Beaches can have black sand. Boulders are everywhere. I am always amazed at how plant life finds a way to thrive.

In Eyrarbaki

This was taken in Eyrarbakki, at one time a busy port. It is from here that Bjarni Herjólfsson, the first European to sight North America set sail. He then sold his boat to Lief Ericsson...


Near our Guesthouse on Route 36

The air is pristine. Waters too. Fishing is great, we were told.

View from our window

With few trees, views are long. And the sun (when it can be seen) stays low in the sky for a long time, casting beautiful golden light. Around every corner there is beauty.

For more photos: Iceland album