Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hot Water

Drilling Spots

Each of these little domes sits atop a bore hole, tapping into geothermal energy. The steam that comes up is used to produce electricity via steam turbines. The hot water that results is pumped directly to heat homes and provide hot water in taps. The water that comes out smells of sulphur.

Steam Over the Road

These big pipes over the road lead to the Krafla power plant. A smaller power plant is down the hill.

Pool at the Power Plant

This pool of water may look innocuous, but signs indicate the temperature of the water is close to 100°C. There are other advantages to this kind of power. This power plant supplies the water for Mývatn Baths.

Myvatn Baths

It was delightful to spend some time soaking in the baths, enjoying the scenery around the baths and feeling all cares melt away.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Krafla

Crater at Krafla

The Krafla volcanic region stretches to several mountains. The whole are is alive with zones that are too hot to walk on (including the area around Hveraröndor Hverir). The area is a source of electricity and hot water for  part of Iceland as the power company taps into the geothermal energy. This is the largest crater in the area. You can walk all around the periphery.

From 1975-1984 there were fissure eruptions which caused fires over a large region. Large lava fields and some hot spots remain.
Second Crater at Krafla

A second water-filled crater is just beside it.

Toxic

You can see the land near it is coloured by the minerals. The coloured ground is toxic to life - too many heavy metals and acid for growth.

Third Crater at Krafla

A third crater spews steam. The colours are similar to the area around Hverir.

Fissure

Next we hiked to Leirhnjúkur, also part of the Krafla system. The mountain still steams thirty years after the Krafla fires.


Towards the Lava Field

Eruptions and fires in the area from 1975 to 1984 have left large swaths of lava fields.

Leirhnjúkur Crater

A steamy crater on Leirhnjúkur - you can see spots where the water is boiling.

The Mountain Smokes

Here, too there is a sense of being on another planet; it is so different from any landscape I have ever been in.

More photos at: Iceland and Faroe Islands album

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mývatn Waterfalls and more

Selfoss

Photos: August 10-11, 2014

Our day started with a visit to waterfalls. The weather was bleak, foggy with off and on rain. Selfoss is a picturesque waterfall, curving from bank to bank.

Detifoss

Detifoss, a little further along the river, thunders down. Its bottom can't be seen but its force can be heard. Great plumes of water droplets leap up. It was hard to know if it was raining or if the droplets were showering us.

Birds and Pseudocrater

Lake Mývatn is teeming with water fowl. No sailing is allowed on the lake during breeding season. And the lake and its shores are dotted with pseudocraters. These small islands and hills by the water have indentations like craters, but they were formed by steam explosions when lava met water.

Duck

A great variety of ducks can be seen.

Near Lake Mývatn

Around parts of the lake are interesting lava formations.

More photos: Iceland and Faroe Island album

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Walking on Another Planet

Otherworldly

Photos: August 9, 2014

A stop at Hveraröndor Hverir is like arriving on another planet. Nothing seems familiar. Much of the area is too hot to walk on. Visitors have to stick to the paths.

Fumarole

Steam gushes out of fumaroles. The wind sends its plume over the area.

Námaskarð

The mountain, Námaskarð, steam coming out of its fissures, is a backdrop to this otherworldly terrain.

Burbling Up

Mudpots burble up.

On Another Planet

Minerals leave traces of unusual colours on the ground. The smell of sulphur hovers.

And in the distance - snow

Amidst all this boiling it is odd to look up and see snow on a mountain in the distance.

More pictures at : Iceland and Faroe Islands

Friday, August 29, 2014

Northern Iceland

Outside our Guesthouse

Photos: August 9, 2014

The northern part of Iceland is more mountainous than the southern coast. Mountains seemed to go on forever, many with snow tops.

Geitafoss

Iceland has magnificent waterfalls - this is just one of the small ones: Geitafoss.

Lake Mývatn

Lake Mývatn has arms reaching in all directions. The views everywhere are extraordinary, with glaciers in the distance, volcanic mountains (dormant at the moment) and a profusion of water fowl.

Lava Formations

We went to Dimmuborgir where the lava formations are fascinating. In Iceland at Christmas there are 12 Santas. They come to Dimmuborgir one day at a time.  http://www.iceland.is/the-big-picture/news/celebrating-christmas-with-13-trolls/7916/ And after Christmas they each leave - one day each. Some say that Dimmuborgir was formed by lava hitting a lake bed, cooling and then the trapped surface water was forced through steam vents creating these odd shapes. Others say that the trolls were playing and didn't notice that the sun was about to rise and they were all turned into stone.

The Church

This formation is known as The Church. You can walk right into the "chapel" under the arch.
Climbing Hverfell

We climbed Hverfell, a dormant volcano. From a North Iceland site: "Hverfell has a large, circular explosion crater, about 140 metres deep and with a diameter of 1,000 metres. Hverfell is one of Iceland’s most beautiful and symmetrical explosion craters, besides being one of the largest of its kind in the world. It is considered certain that the crater was created during a volcanic explosion, and its age is estimated to be around 2800 - 2900 years."
Looking into the crater

The whole mountain feels like walking on pebbles. Nothing grows here.

More photos at: Iceland and Faroe Islands album

Thursday, August 28, 2014

North Streymoy - Faroe Islands

Sheep on the Slope

Photos: August 7, 2014

Everywhere we looked in the Faroe Islands there were steep hills, cascades of water and sheep on the slopes - not big flocks, but a few here and there. They seem to be able to climb the steepest slopes.

Five Swans a-swimming

We went on a tour of the northern part of Streymoy, stopping here and there to admire the views. We stopped near a lake and one of the travellers went down to the shore. Suddenly, as if an announcement went out, the swans swam towards him; the sheep nearby headed his way; then the sheep on the hillsides came dashing down the slopes.

Chance Meeting

I guess they were hoping for a handout, but it was just a photo op. Sheep (as in Iceland) come in a variety of colours. They graze on the hills all summer and are rounded up in October. We were told that people collect their slaughtered lambs and hang them to dry in a shed. They are eaten at Christmas (the smell is supposedly quite strong). You can read about it here.

Looking Down

Like Iceland, most of the Faroe Islands is treeless which allows for long vistas.

Out of the Bay

We took a boat trip along the bird cliffs near Vestmanna. The cliffs towered over us. As much of the rock is basalt, a fairly soft rock, it has been carved by the sea, leaving caves, arches and other interesting rock formations.

Rock Formations

Our boat went through arches, around sea stacks. Many birds nest on the cliffs.

Through an Arch

Through an arch (you can see the poles at the back of the boat).

In and Around the Cliffs

It was impossible to photograph to the top of the cliffs - they rose over 800 metres.

Vestmanna

Back to Vestmanna. The village perches on a hill. Nearby there are pipes coming down from the top of the mountains. Water is diverted through them turning turbines inside to generate power. More and more the Faroe Islands are using natural sources of power: hydro-electric power and windmills. With only about 50,000 people, the power demands are not that substantial.

More photos: Iceland and Faroe Islands album

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