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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Like Here, Only Different ~ There's A Hole In The Bottom Of The Sea

This has been a long day on the Golden Circle Tour.

I could only pick one activity and I wanted to get out and see nature and the marvels of this land.  This tour gives only a little taste, but what a taste it is


This is a day with a bit of variety.

We started with a visit to a geothermal greenhouse and see how fresh vegetables are grown year round using the natural heat generated from the volcanic resources.  Sorry about the photo orientation.

Plant seedlings are started in a separate greenhouse then brought into the planters with more mature plants.

The greenhouse is heated with geothermal heat and the water is processed secondarily.    Lights are also powered with geothermal and turbine generated power. The plants are not hydroponic, but are rooted into large peat bales.  Water is dripped into the bails and runoff is collected and recycled.

Vines climb 25cm per week and when in production, the tomatoes are harvested, packaged and transported to town every day.

Bees are brought in from Belgium and used for pollination.  The are charming, fat round and fuzzy, unlike our common honeybee.  They produce small bulbous cones and the owner says they sometimes make use of the small amount of tomato honey. Parasitic wasps help keep flies out of the fruit.

Completely organic and very environmentally sound.

Gullfoss (golden falls) is a magnificent waterfall dropping staircase fashion and appearing to disappear.

The Wiki page has some wonderful photos of the winter falls, which must be something to see


The falls cascade down with amazing flow and speed.  As there was freezing in the mountains last week, I assume the Spring run off is just getting underway.

Early in the 1900s this area was under speculation for a damming.  One young woman who lived nearby fought very hard to have the areas natural wonders preserved.  Her devotion was complete, including tracking to the city to meet with officials.

We stopped in Haukadalur to see geysers.  Geysir is one of the larger ones and it is from it we get the general term.  Geysir is derived from a word that means "to gush"

Geyser itself no longer erupts like it once did.  Earthquakes have changed its character.

Nearby Strokkur is reliable and erupts with high frequency.

The whole of the basin is filled with small thermal pools, springs and bubbling pots.  Temperatures are around 90C, near boiling.  Some of the thermal pools deposit minerals and are a stunning color, even on this stormy day.

Thingvellir National Park is where we find the hole from the bottom of the sea.  Plate tectonics which create the Mid-Atlantic Rift rise from the ocean and cross Iceland.  It is here that the North American Plate and the Eurasian plates are splitting apart by several centimeters per year.

There really is a hole.  A long Tear Along The Dotted Line rift.



This is a crack of the Eurasian plate

This is the North American plate boundary.

People actually come and scuba dive in the cracks and chasms.

Thingvellir is the birthplace of Iceland.  It is where the first people held Parliament.  The word "thing" originated from this place word.  "Thing" originally a word in abstract; talk and consider the subject / issue at hand.  Only later did the word start to mean an item.

Getting out into the environment was a treat.  It is wild, complex and ever changing.  Moses, lichens short grasses dominate.  Lupins are the main plant along with small shrubby trees which appear to be willow family.  I even spotted some wild Viola

Icelandic Horses were seen frequently and we saw more of the sheep that produce wool.  Most of the ewes have new lambs and it appears that twins are the norm.

Tomorrow it is time to return home and back to my work-a-day world.

It has been quite a time.  Now it is time to dream up another adventure.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Like Here, Only Different ~ A Wee Diversion

When making plans for this holiday I chatted about traveling with a co-worker.  She and her husband were planning a trip to London and Paris and told me they were flying Iceland Air.  She mentioned that one could lay-over in Reykjavik with no additional charge on the airfare.  When I checked it out the round trip fare was certainly a great deal on its own, the opportunity to have a brief visit even more so.

So here I am, landed in the afternoon and able to have a full day tomorrow with an exciting tour of the Golden Circle.  I am staying right near the center of town in the shopping district.  Center Hotel Klopp


I have my priorities.  My first is finding a nice Icelandic sweater.  Icelandic Handknit Society is two blocks away.  So many items labeled Icelandic may be made of Iceland wool and in traditional patterns, but they are knit in far off places rather right here by traditional hand knitters.  Like the sweater I picked up last Summer at Swaledale Woolens, I am looking for a sweater I can wear for years to come.  I could only window shop today as my flight out of London was an hour late.  There is ample time if we get in from tour early enough tomorrow, or Monday first thing.

I took the opportunity to simply walk around and look at the interesting architecture and view some of the outdoor art.  I was dismayed by how much graffiti there is.  Senseless.  Many buildings are painted in bright colors or fronted with colored aluminum.

This pretty house had a nice yard and it had bird feeders and water feature.  Highly unusual and right in the center of the busy shopping neighborhood.  I was excited to see a blooming flower related to or checker lily.  Of course I oriented my camera incorrectly.

I took a walk around.  It is pretty windy and gray with sprinkles.

Along the harbor this viking boat sculpture.

In the harbor Coast Guard and industry ships of all types

The abstract Harpa Concert Hall is difficult to capture.

Many of the sculptures around town are of the same modernist school .

Around town coffee café culture is huge. This shop is said to be the oldest coffee shop, dating to the early 50s

Hallgrimskirkja took 34 years to build.  The spire is visible for 20Km.  The observation platform in the spire costs a small amount to ride to and those funds are used for charity.  A gray cement building in a gray sky.

That is our friend Leif in he front.

I am looking forward to seeing the natural wonders on tomorrows trip.  Currently I am listening to the movie "Ice Age II" dubbed in Icelandic.  It  is holding my interest for now.

The sun sets sometime very late tonight and rises around 3am.  My east facing room does not have blackout curtains.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Like Here, Only Different ~ Walking London, Camden Market

Camden Market.  Something for everyone.  Street food from around the world.  Cute little dresses for cute little ladies.

Go hungry.

Much of the market is in old stables.  Many horse sculptures.

Row upon row of food stalls

Tons of building details.

Old lock canal house is now a Starbucks

Main street.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Like Here, Only Different ~ Day 7b Lamorna to Penzance

Lamorna to Penzance 6 miles; Lamorna, Mousehole, Newlyn, Penzance, St Michaels Mount.  I stay at The Pendennis Guest House

My walk is done.

Today the weather turned.  After a great breakfast I put on my waterproof gear and my long sleeve shirt and headed out in the opposite direction.  The Merry Maidens stone circle is about 3/4 mile from the farm.  It is the only authentic ancient circle on the route.

This pair of finches (?) were happy to sing in the rain

 Todays walk started out up and down cliffs.  Nothing horrible but the wet made me extra carefull on the boulders and rocks.

The rustic trail ends at Mousehole. (say "mowzl")  This village, once an important fishing port now supports a thriving artists colony.  A huge cave outside the village is said to have inspired the name.  Dylan Thomas called Mousehole "the loveliest village in England".  Records of the village go back to 1266 and the current quay dates to 1390.  I have to agree, it was charming and tidy.

The town is filled with super narrow streets and little surprises around every corner.

I stopped for lunch at a pub and had to have a crab sandwich.  I also had the best cup of coffee since I left home.  There are tons of shops to look in and it was no practical to try to take anything away.

Newlyn it the next town and is another artists colony supporting many galleries.  The fishing port dates back to 1435.  Fishing boats were coming and going.  All along the front street were fishmongers and fishery related businesses.

This boat arriving had a huge flock of Gull's in tow.  That is St Michael's Mount in the background.

The long run-in to Penzance is along a waterfront bike path.  We are off the cliffs and at sea-level.

East of town is Marazion and it  is from there that one can visit St Michaels Mount, a 14th century Benedictine Priory.  Records of the island date back to 1st century BC where they show that tin was loaded to ships from here.  It is possible to walk to the island at low tide via a causeway.  When the tide is up there is a little shuttle boat.


Tomorrow it is the train back to London.  A few days to relax then one more wee adventure.