Tag Archives: iceland

Reykjavikian white nights.

You know the score by now: I globetrot a lot on business. On my trips, if I’ve any stamina still left of an evening in the hotel – or afterwards on the flight back home/onwards – I share my (mostly) non-business-related impressions with you, dear readers of this blog. Sometimes stamina gets depleted – either from an intense business agenda, or from visiting too many places in too short a time.

Times like these, since I’m most always accompanied on my trips, I often pass the blogging reins over to a fellow traveler, who also has a pair of eyes – and invariably also has a much more fancy camera than me. For they like to write down their thoughts and impressions from the road too.

One such occasion recently arose after a midnight stroll around the Icelandic capital. And it wasn’t due to my being too tired this time: I had some work to do early the next day. Anyway, for whatever reason, here’s what DZ has to say about Reykjavik at night in summer…

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Reykjavik sits 64 degrees north of the equator; that’s the same as central Alaska or Arkhangelsk in Northern Russia. So yes, it gets cold. The place also has all the peculiar atmospheric phenomena associated with this high northern latitude. And in summer – the most interesting of these atmospheric phenomena, IMHO, are the ‘White Nights‘ – where the sun doesn’t really go down at all at night as it never sets over the horizon at it’s so far north.

Here in Reykjavik the ‘nights’ are of course shorter – and whiter – than in St. Petersburg, which is five degrees latitude lower down the planet. So it just wouldn’t have been right to not have had a walkabout the city, camera in hand, on our first night here. So we did the right thing…

Totally right: a leisurely ‘night’ stroll around Reykjavik in July is… unparalleled (apart from with other 64th parallel towns maybe:). It’s probably amazing in December too, but I’ll have to save that for a later date…

Reykjavik has a population of around 120,000 (and over 200,000 in the Capital Region)Reykjavik has a population of around 120,000 (200,000 including its surrounding region). The city is the heart of Iceland’s cultural, economic and governmental activity

In Reykjavik temperatures very rarely drop below −15 °C (5 °F) in the winter because the Icelandic coastal weather in winter is moderated by the Gulf Stream.In Reykjavik temperatures very rarely drop below −15°C (5°F) in the winter because the Icelandic coastal weather in winter is moderated by the Gulf Stream

Read on: Midnight rainbow do exist!…

Off-piste and off-the-ground in Iceland.

Herewith, the penultimate installment on the enchanting island of Iceland; namely, on traveling off the beaten track on the ground, and up off the ground too – in a helicopter.

In just four days we covered more than a thousand kilometers of Iceland, but these were anything but boring kilometers. From one place of – particular – interest to the next, there are hundreds more exceptional sights to be seen: ludicrously breathtaking landscapes made up variously of volcanoes, cliffs, glaciers, waterfalls, dark gray fields of volcanic slag, and lava fields coated in seas of green or the lilac of lupine, plus distractingly dazzling dusks and dawns, pastoral scenes with sheep and horses… in short, a veritable feast for the eyes!

The Ring Road's total length is 1,332 kilometres (828 mi)The Ring Road’s total length is 1332 kilometers (828 miles)

Ring Road crosses a few glacial outwash plains, which is subject to frequent glacial outburst floodsThe Ring Road crosses a few glacial outwash plains, which are subject to frequent glacial outburst floods

Icelandic roads

Read on: How we very nearly found ourselves in a drowning incident…

Have an Ice day!

All right folks, now for glacial Iceland

Now, Iceland’s glaciers aren’t the biggest in the world, but all the same, the grand glacial vistas, the glacial lakes with icebergs, and the phenomenon of natural might… in sum it’s all fairly spellbinding.

We checked out two glaciers while on the island. First up: Langjökull (here).

It was here I had a go on a snowmobile for the first time! Have to say, I was expecting an easy, comfortable glide across the snow… Turns out snowmobiling at 50+ km/h on wet and powdery snow – neither comfortable nor easy.

There are two highland tracks in Langjökull, but we used none of them. We drove snowmobiles!There are two highland tracks in Langjökull, but we used none of them. We drove snowmobiles!

Read on: more glacierities…

Icelandic Waterfallism.

Iceland‘s a very wet country in the cool time of year, and very snowy in winter. (There isn’t a warm season here to speak of – unless you submerge yourself in hot springs for three months.) So, in terms of H2O here – there’s plenty. And since there are a great many volcanoes in the country too, the conditions are perfect for a blossoming of the population of Iceland’s waterfalls – of which there are also plenty. Here’s a list of the five main ones we visited in the south and southwest parts of the country, all of which are wholly worthy of checking out in person.

Waterfall No. 1: GullfossHere. And here:

Gullfoss is one of the most popular waterfall attractions in IcelandGullfoss – one of the most popular waterfall attractions in Iceland

Read on: Four more Icelandic waterfalls you’d like to see…

Icelandic tectonic.

Everyone’s got a basic idea of how this planet of ours is constructed, even primary school kids. It goes something like this: in the middle of the planet is the core – the nucleus; then there’s the mantle, and on the outside there’s the hard crust, upon which you’re reading this blog.

But the earth’s crust isn’t a single whole piece – it consists of tectonic plates, which float around mostly imperceptibly on the surface of the magma. And they float around in different directions – into one another, perpendicularly, or away from each other. That is, they converge, chafe one another, or diverge from one another. Along the edges of the plates there are frequent earthquakes and all sorts of volcanic activity. For those interested, check out the links above.

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Where plates converge are to be found mountains, volcanoes, and their associated features of terra firma. We’re talking: Japan, Kamchatka, the Kurils, the Aleutians, the Andes, the Cordillera, the Himalayas, etc. Places where plates diverge are usually are on the seabed, visible on maps of sufficient quality and detail: here, under the Atlantic for example is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It’s here where tectonic plates move away from one another, with the space between them being filled with magma.

One of the few places where this divergence of plates occurs on land is Iceland: it’s situated along the seam between the North American and Eurasian plates. The former is moving ever-so slowly to the west, the latter ever-so slowly to the east – at a speed of 2cm a year. That is, the width of Iceland increases by two centimeters every year (not taking into account coastal erosion or, just the opposite, the expansion of the land mass on account of lava flows). 2cm a year – that’s two meters a century, 20 meters a millennium, 20 kilometers in a million years. So, if things keep going as they do, in 200 million years Iceland will become the length of Chile, and in in 300 million – the length of Russia!

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The crack in the ground along the fault line is best observed in Iceland at Þingvellir (Thingvellir).

Map of Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

There’s an uneven and craggy crack around five kilometers long that crosses the landscape here, plus a nice lake. This is how it all looks:

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

Read on: Canyons, canyons, canyons!…

Iceland: Niceland.

I’d long dreamed of one day getting to the very volcanic island of Iceland for a spot of sightseeing, trekking and leisurely driving. I’d heard great things from friends and colleagues, seen some awesome pics of the scenery there, and heard some of the island’s music, but only recently did I finally find myself spending a few days there after doing some business in the country.

Iceland waterfalls

Sweeping, grandiose, lush, monumental – just a few of the adjectives that spring to mind when attempting to describe this island after having been there. And now, IMHO, I consider it to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet; and as you know, I’ve seen a lot of beautiful places on the planet. Of course the weather and climate situation here can be difficult, but that’s to be expected when the polar ice cap isn’t that far away… And anyway, it’s a minor drawback given the awesomeness of the island’s volcanoes, geysers and hot springs, glaciers and waterfalls, tectonism (a new word in my lexicon; will tell you more about it later on) and other natural beauty.

So stock up on the popcorn, for today and in coming days a series of photo-textual-travelogue posts is coming your way. For starters, a small selection of photographic masterpieces highlighting some of the best bits from the trip.

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Read on: The ‘greatest hits’ of Iceland…