I haven’t written in a while, but a part of that is because I’ve been on a holiday to Iceland. It was a very eye opening and interesting holiday and I learnt a lot about the Icelandic culture, which has helped my passion for Norse history and mythology.
We arrived on Friday and spent most of the day relaxing in the hotel as we were all very tired, however in the evening we explored the capital Reykjavik. I say evening but even at 10 PM it was still very bright outside, as the Arctic sun meant that the days were really long and the nights were incredibly short. The hotel room had double curtains so it would seem dark at night.
View outside the hotel room. The sun was quite bright during the week so the visibility was low.
Reykjavik is an interesting city. It has about a third of the population of Iceland but still only has a population about the size of Eastleigh. The city is extremely spread out with the longest shopping street I’ve ever been on. The city is completely surrounded by a giant mountain, which blocked out the wind and made the city quite warm. Our hotel was on the outskirts of the city centre and was near a shopping mall, which is apparently the largest in Iceland. There was a shuttle bus into the city centre everyday, which was dominated by a church, Hallgrimskirkja, which we went inside to explore.
The impressive church Hallgrimskirkja
The church is the tallest building in Reykjavik and has a very impressive tower which can be seen across the city. The shops are also really impressive, with a mixture of tourist and local shops. What was confusing however, was the currency. I don’t know whether things are naturally more expensive in Iceland or whether Brexit has completely destroyed the exchange rate, but everything is really expensive. 5000 krona is about £30. The coins themselves are awesome, with crabs and fish representing heads and the coat of arms representing tails.
The first major trip out was whale watching in the harbour on Sunday. While I couldn’t get any pictures of the whales, I did see three humpback whales diving and a few minke whales as well. There were plenty of puffins flying by too, but they were too fast to take pictures of. The trip was very tiring but worth it, as I got to see animals in their natural habitat, which my David Attenborough obsessed brain appreciated.
The harbour of Reykjavik
Monday was a bank holiday so we didn’t go on any huge day trips. Instead we explored the museums around Reykjavik. The Saga Museum was the museum about Vikings, with stories about the formation of Iceland. Legend says that the first guy who discovered Iceland sent out three ravens on his ship from the Shetland Islands to see if there was any land ahead. One flew back to the Shetlands, the other flew back to the boat but the third flew on ahead, indicating there was land ahead. My favourite guy was a priest who had leg impediments so travelled around in a wheelbarrow. Now that’s awesome! There was also a lot of focus on Eric the Red, who discovered Greenland and named it Greenland to attract people there, even if it was anything but green.
The other museum we visited was the Whales of Iceland museum.. The museum had life sized models of all the whales of Iceland (hence the name) with a really awesome blue whale right in the centre. My favourite whale/dolphin, the killer whale, is also there. We also saw the square shaped concert hall.
Tuesday was the first of three day trips out to see the landscapes. We went on the Golden Circle tour to explore the waterfalls and geysers. We saw the pipeline running through the mountains to Reykjavik, which powers the city with geo-thermal energy. The mountains are really impressive, and I see no reason why Doctor Who hasn’t filmed in Iceland yet. Seriously, Iceland is perfect for Peladon.
The waterfall Gullfoss was the most impressive part of the day. It was absolutely stunning to look at and it really needs to be seen to be believed. It’s great to see something completely natural in the modern day world.
The next part of the trip was visiting the geyser called Geysir. The whole area smelt of sulphur but the smell was worth it because of the sights of the geyser erupting. Sadly, the geyser erupted too quickly for me to take any photos.
The geyser not erupting-unfortunately
The following day was the glacier tour. This was the longest day but it was really worth it. The glacier, Langjokull, is huge and the second largest in Europe, with the largest also in Iceland. Inside the glacier were lots of ice caves. I learnt about the way glaciers are formed and I saw the ash that separated the layers from before the Eyjafjallajökull eruption took place in 2010. The tour guides had a lot of fun mocking the newcasters from around the world for mispronouncing Eyjafjallajökull during the week.
The glacier tour had fascinating views and icicles in the caves. It was a tiring journey but it was really worth it to see the glacier in full. I was really impressed with how the glacier tunnels were created for the tour.
The final day was another long trip to explore the inside of Thrihnukagigur, a dormant volcano. There was a long hike across the lava fields and incredibly impressive views of the city when we got to the top of the volcano. Before we got to the inside of the volcano, we had a seven minute journey down in a lift where we could see the strange looking formations inside. The bottom of the volcano was vast and the magma chamber was breathtaking to see, although my phone couldn’t take the full scale of the chamber so the pictures seem quite unimpressive. I also learnt that the lava fields and caves were used by bandits in the Viking times to hide out in the wilderness, as one form of punishment at the time was exile. Unfortunately, this was our final day.
Strange formations in the volcano
So overall, my trip to Iceland was absolutely amazing. I learnt so much about Nordic history and experiencing new culture is always good. This will be a trip I will remember for a long time.