Well, the shadows are back here in Meaford. There isn't much new to report other than the continuing snow and cold temperatures. We get a little snow every few days, and tonight there's an extreme cold weather alert with wind chills forecast to take the mercury down to near -30C. My caregiver this morning said her car thermometer read -31C! Seems like a pretty typical January to me!
Saturday, January 29, 2022
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
The last highlight of our trip to Iceland was visiting the famous Blue Lagoon. It's conveniently located near the airport, so we left early on our last day and stopped there to enjoy the warm water for an hour or two. It was very relaxing, and quite busy, popular with locals as well as tourists!
So while you're floating in the blue lagoon you can celebrate Iceland's geothermal energy sources and the low-cost energy they provide, as well as the left-over warm water for the lagoon. All of this is because of Iceland sitting atop the mid-Atlantic Ridge, and this corner, known as the Reykjanes Peninsula is the second place where the separating plates of the continents can be seen. And the whole area is the Reykjanes UNESCO Geopark.
If you've followed along you'll know that this trip crammed a lot into 4.5 days. We were kept really busy. Your have to be able to enjoy touring on a bus, but we had done that before when we went to Italy, so we were confident it would be ok. And a very high proportion of Iceland tourism is based on tours, from the day-long tours we enjoyed to luxury tours that follow the circle route around the entire island, at a much higher cost! You can rent a car and do the drive yourself, but you do then need to do your own research on what you want to stop and see.
As I said at the beginning, this adventure was very much a spur-of-the-moment decision when I saw the ad for a cheap Iceland holiday, and it turned out to be a wonderful adventure. Not the time of year we would have chosen, but it fit our budget that year.
Out biggest impression was how rugged and interesting Iceland was, and how its settlement clung to the outer edge of the island. And how organized they were - there wasn't s slip-up in our tours for the entire time. And it all came in on budget, no hidden surprise costs. Hope you've enjoyed joining us on our visit to Iceland..
Monday, January 24, 2022
The destination of our fourth day in Iceland was actually beyond the waterfalls and the museum to the south coast, about 2 hours from Reykjavik. It was both an interesting drive and a fascinating place. We ended up at the famous black sand beach known as Reynisfjara. And the sand was truly black, eroded from Iceland's volcanic rocks.
This is said to be the most beautiful black sand beach in the world. It was formed when hot lava from the nearby Katla volcano ran into the cold seawater and broke down so quickly it formed sand almost instantly (in geological terms). I think the 'most beautiful in the world' description may have been added in mid-summer when the sun was out, the waves were gentle, and the water was blue!
That certainly wasn't the case on the day we were there!
But this felt like a real adventure and we enjoyed all of it - the beach that Mrs. F.G. is walking along, the crashing waves, the cold howling wind off the north Atlantic and the offshore sea stacks. Almost as adventurous as being up on the glacier two days before! And close to going outdoors at this time of year here in Meaford!
Friday, January 21, 2022
Waterfalls are a great attraction in Iceland, and we saw some of the best. Along the drive down to the south coast we saw both Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss, walking up to each to get a close look. These and other waterfalls are fed by the melting glaciers of the highlands, particularly in these two cases by the melting ice from the Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull glaciers, the southernmost glaciers in Iceland. We stopped to inspect the edge of a glacier first, the source of the water for these falls.
This is the toe of the glacier, slipping down the valley to where it is more accessible.
We crossed the wide gravel area and then got right onto the ice at the front of this glacier. As you can see it's very dirty from all the sediment that accumulates on the surface as it melts.
The immediate edge of the glacier was carved into fascinating shapes.
And to our left was the beginning of the meltwater running off the ice and forming the beginning of the river.
And BONUS! you get a picture of Mr. and Mrs. Furry Gnome together! Can you believe this is one of only 2 or 3 pictures of us together from all our travels? Says a lot about me as a photographer. As you can see it wasn't very warm, with a cool breeze flowing off the ice.
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Skogar Museum, two hours south of Reykjavik, was our destination one day, and it was fascinating. This is an open-air folk museum showing the architecture of homes from the past, including an amazing 'turf house'. No elves in sight, but we enjoyed seeing homes of Iceland's past.
This is the turf house at the museum, all one house but perhaps lived in by an extended family. What look like different buildings would be connected beneath the sod roofs.
Sod homes were built from the time of settlement up until the mid-20th century, the sod and stones helping to keep the houses warm. I'm wondering if the lack of trees for firewood was also part of the context for this.