All good things must end and so our adventures in Sweden and Iceland are now just memories. The final part of the trip took us to Iceland where we were awed by the magnificence and grandeur of the landscape. It is vast and rugged and wild and beautiful. I had thought that I’d feel about Iceland much like I feel about Alaska, I’m glad I’ve been there but have no desire to go back. Instead I would eagerly return to Iceland.
I was surprised to learn that the entire population is only 320,000 in an area as large as all of the British Isles combined. Two-thirds of the people live in the greater Reykjavik area. That leaves the remaining residents scattered throughout the country, almost all along the coast. The interior is covered with glaciers and mountains and rock.
Geothermal heating provides most of the heat for homes and industry. Even many of the sidewalks in Reykjavik are heated in the winter to be kept ice free. The country is very young and still changing with glaciers melting and volcanic activity ongoing.
The Icelandic language seems very difficult to me but fortunately nearly everyone there speaks English. The language was brought by the Norwegian and Celtic settlers in the 9th and 10th centuries. Iceland was so isolated that it has had little outside influences to change it. Other Norwegian and Celtic countries languages have been modified over the years by the influence of other European countries.
We took two day long tours. Along the way We passed through the town of Selfoss. With a population of 6500 it is the largest “city” outside of the Reykjavik area. That’s only half the population of Ipswich. Wow. It is in an area of rich farmland making it the major shopping area.
One of our tours took us to the popular sites of Gullfoss, Geyser and Thingvellir National Park. All spectacular sights. Geyser is an area of many acres filled with bubbling, boiling springs and geysers. The waterfall Gullfoss is maybe the most popular tourist attraction in Iceland. It has a boardwalk and stairs leading down to viewpoints and a restaurant but has not been otherwise commercialized.
We only stopped in Thingvellir National Park for a brief visit but I was captivated by the landscape. Great cliffs, valley’s, a lake, rivers and huge cracks in the earth. It would have been worth a whole day’s visit. Game of Thrones fans might be interested to know that some scenes were filmed there and in other parts of the country.
The second tour took us along the south coast. Along the highway on one side was rich green farmland dotted with sheep and horses, on the other side tall cliffs with snow topped mountains in the background. We visited a glacier, two other waterfalls and a black sand beach with an unusual columnar basalt wall at the back.
Our final stop was the Skógar Folk Museum. The most interesting feature of the open air museum were the sod covered houses. The houses are of wood but only the fronts are visible. The rest was encased in sod with a few windows peeking through.