|Our Party at the Arctic Circle|
|Reykjavik in summer|
|island of Surtsey|
It took two days at sea before we reached Iceland from the Shetland Islands. We attended all the sessions about what to expect in the three ports we will visit, about the Vikings and origins of the country and its people, and its current economy and development. But, even before reaching Reykjavik, we encountered the island of Surtsey off its southern coast formed in a volcanic eruption which began 426 ft below sea level in November 1963, continuing for seven months after. Now the island is half its maximum size of one square mile because of wind and wave erosion.
Iceland is a Nordic country between the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean. A population of 325,671 occupies an area of 40,000 square miles, the most sparsely populated country in Europe. It is volcanically and geologically active, consisting mainly of a plateau of sand and lava fields, mountains and glaciers, with many glacial rivers flowing to the sea. I learned that the Gulf Stream warms it so that its climate is temperate despite being just outside the Arctic Circle.
|largest natural lake|
We took a bus tour in Reykjavik that took us first to Þingvellir, a continually evolving volcanic area and to Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland. Haukadalur is the third tourist attraction in the Golden Circle where geysers and other geothermal features have developed on a rhyolitic dome. There are also more than 40 other little hot springs, mud pots and fumaroles nearby. But it does not compare to Yosemite in America, the largest and densest area of geothermal activity in the world.
|you would really want to dive into it|
The final swing of the tour was a brief stop at the Viking Museum, a glimpse of the Sun Voyager, a sculpture that is both a dreamboat and an ode to the sun, the Harpa, a very new concert hall and conference centre, and the Pearl with five immense hot water tanks topped with a domed revolving restaurant. It was too bad that the Hallgrímskirkja was not part of the tour and we were so tired that we couldn’t walk to it. It is the largest church in Iceland (Lutheran) and is of outstanding architecture, visible from any part of the city. There was a lot more to see but we simply did not have the time or the energy.
|the town of Isofjordur, viewed from the ship|
|view of the town, on foot|
|Godafoss, Waterfall of the Gods|
|another scene as the bus gradually took us to the Falls|
|Church of Akureyri|
|folkloric trolls in downtown Akureyri|
|view of the town from the ship's deck|
After the ship set sail, we had a grandly wild party celebrating our crossing of the Arctic Circle. At precisely the time, the Captain announced at the Gazers Lounge, ’Ladies and gentlemen, look to the left of you.’ We all looked. Then he said, ‘Look to the right of you.’ We all looked. Finally he said, ‘There is really nothing.’ And we all laughed, drank, and danced. We may not have seen boundless expanses of ice for it was summer. But Iceland is certainly another kind of land and I became even more captivated.