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Intro to Greater Reykjavik

ICELAND | Thursday, 22 July 2010 | Views [446]

View of Thingvellir: the opposing mountain/cliffs are the two separate plates

View of Thingvellir: the opposing mountain/cliffs are the two separate plates

Did you know that beers cost $11 each in Montreal? Good beer, though. And did you know that Halifax is an absolutely tiny, desolate city? But it is the jumping off point for Iceland, which is where I am now, after way too many plane rides. 

We refreshed after our trip by soaking the famous Blue Lagoon for three hours. Wow! Definitely the neatest hot spring I've ever been in. Then we hit Reykjavik, half asleep and zombie-like and crashed at the hostel for a little while before shopping for food (which is surprisingly cheap compared to what we were expecting). 

Today we explored greater Reykjavik, which primarily consists of the Golden Circle, a tourist loops of great beauty. Even as the most touristed areas of the country, the crowds were minimal and the beauty was immense. We started at Thingvellir, which is where the Icelandic parliment (Allthing) had been held yearly from AD 190 through a few hundred years ago. More interesting to an earth-nerd like me was that this is one of two places in the world where sea floor spreading can be witnessed on land. We were standing in a vast valley which was bounded by the North American plate and the European Plate (I think), and which are spreading apart at a rate of 7 mm per year. (The other place to witness this is the Great Rift Valley). We hiked and looked at old graves and clear water and big waterfalls - lovely.

Then we hit up Geysir, where there is an intermittantly active HUGE geyser, but it's silent these days (has been since 2002). Instead, Stroker is going off every 3 minutes or so, to a height of 25 meters or so, and the crowds can get CLOSE to the spectacle. Very cool, and kind of eerie (deep tunnels of scalding water freak me out, go figure). 

Finally, we went to Gulfoss, the most amazing waterfall I've ever seen. It's ENORMOUS and sudden and completely unexpected. We spent a long time staring in awe at the monster, then I walked through the rain cloud of spray to a close-up vantage point and soaked it all in some more (quite literally). 

By the way, this whole day took place under a pristine blue sky! Apparently these are as rare a polar bears around here, so I shouldn't get used to it, but it sure was nice!

Tonight I'm hoping to go out and explore the city of Reykjavik a bit, dressed up per local fashion of course. That's all for now! Oh, there are pictures in the gallery. Cheers!

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