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Iceland: Part Two

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

Day 8 in Iceland dawned bright, but windy. I packed the car and continued my trip east. The drive today was dominated by the icefield of Vatnajokull. This is the biggest icefield in Europe. It stretches for 150 km along the coast and into the interior. Numerous glaciers descend toward the coast from the icefield. After leaving Vik, the farmland quickly gave way to miles of wasteland or polar desert. The road past through large swathes of terrain made up of braided river channels and gravel fields. Wherever the glaciers descended, the wind really picked up in speed. Dust and gravel blew over the road in visible clouds. I was very concerned that the car paint would be damaged as you could hear it hitting the car. I stopped at several points to look at various glacial terminuses. When I exited the car, I had to be careful to hold onto the door to keep it from being snatched open in the wind. (I met another group later whose car door was damaged in this manner. It would no longer shut straight.) The highlight of this portion was the glacial lake of Jokulsarlon. It was formed in the early twentieth century when the glacier retreated. From the parking lot, I walked down to the shore of the lake and sat for a while and watched the large ice blocks moving in the lake. Seals could be seen in the distance bobbing up and down in the water. The outlet of the lake was a small river which led to the ocean. Icebergs floated down this outlet to the ocean where they were ground up on the beach. It was great just to sit there and listen. Over the howl of the wind, one could hear the ice creaking, groaning, and breaking up in the water. While I was doing this, a spotted seal surfaced right near me and swam on its back watching me. While walking along the lake shore I came across a dead baby seal that must have been crushed in the iceflows. [read on]

Iceland: Part One

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

The Norrona sailed out of Torshavn harbor at 5:00 pm sharp. After checking in, I went to find my cabin on deck 6. I was happy to discover that this time I had a cabin to myself. After plopping down my bags, I went out to the open deck to watch as the ship sailed away from the islands. The ship did a small sightseeing trip before heading out into the open ocean. We sailed up close to and between some of the islands that I hadn’t got to visit. It was very impressive to see the massive cliffs from a different angle. The air was full of seagull which nested amongst the rocks. With the huge cliffs in the background dwarfing the birds, they looked almost like a swarm of bees buzzing around the cliffs. After about 1.5 hours, we left the islands behind and headed out into the open ocean for Iceland. The wind picked up due to the increased boat speed and lack of land so most people went inside. I walked up to the front of the boat to watch the water pass below us. I was alone except for a young Frenchman (Laurent) and women (Marie).  After I stood there for a while watching the waves, the French group waved me over and politely informed me that the Frenchman was going to strip naked and take a picture standing in the cold wind on the front of the boat to fulfill a bet. They hoped I wouldn´t mind. I replied that it didn’t bother me and went back to looking at the waves. (If a man is going to take a naked photo, a cold environment is probably not the wisest place to do so for several reasons.) After the bet was satisfied and clothes put back on, Laurent and Marie went back inside and asked if I wanted to join them in the bar car where they had to finish a bottle of wine. Marie ended up going to bed and I visited with Laurent while he finished the bottle.  Laurent was going to work in Iceland for two months as a tour guide for French groups. His friend Marie just came for a vacation. They were driving to Akureyri. I was offered a ride if their friend didn’t show up when the ship docked. [read on]

Iceland update in about 3 days

Friday, May 2nd, 2008
I am now sitting in the library of Reykjavik using the Internet, but I do not have enough time to do a full blog update. Internet access has been difficult to obtain here. Everywhere has wireless, but I have no ... [Continue reading this entry]