Yesterday was a long day of sight seeing. We travelled around to the town of Vik and explored the coast. I didn’t get back to Reykjavik until 8.00 pm and it was nearly 9.30 pm after I stopped of for dinner in town centre.
Iceland has three large ice caps and we skirted around the edge of the smallest one as we travelled to the coast. I think that they are situated on old volcanoes and the one which we were near yesterday is reported to be ready to become active at anytime. Fortunately nothing happened between 9.00 am and 6.00 pm. yesterday, so we were quite safe.
At the edge of this high area is a steep escarpment, probably 100 metres high. This gives rise to a number of spectacular waterfalls and glaciers. We stopped at a number of these for photo stops and then had lunch at the service station at Vik before heading back again. The water in the streams is crystal clear, but obviously the water coming from the glaciers is a dark muddy grey colour as it is filled with ‘rock flour’.
I was thinking yesterday that this whole place is back to front – the sun is in the south (not the north), the clock is on the opposite time of the day and the sand on the beaches is as fine grained as any Australian beach except that it is black, not white. I’ll have to post a few of my beach pictures as negatives so that everyone at home will think that they are OK!
One of the most interesting places that we visited was a private museum that has exhibits about fishing life in Iceland. The elderly gentleman who owns it has a passion for Icelandic history and he has been collecting memorabilia since he was 14 years old. There were some interesting displays – some of which were knitted insoles in intricate geometric designs. Made from wool, these were made by loving wives as a way of keeping their men’s feet warm. I’ll have to have a word in Jill’s ear about that one. I think that the gentleman’s name was Mr Tomlinson. He was very adept at playing the organ in the little church building that stood in the grounds of the museum. Other buildings showed old farmhouses where the people lived above the cattle for warmth ion winter, along with an old school house that looked like it provided a very severe learning environment.
Apparently one of the most favoured events were shipwrecks – especially the French ships because they carried red wine. These shipwrecks provided local people with timber, although a lot of driftwood washes up on the beaches from Russia and as far away as South America because of the gulf stream current. The gulf stream has a big impact on Iceland’s climate. It is cool, but not cold. Winters apparently get down to about zero (centigrade) but not much colder.
I’ll have to see just how cold it is going to be in Spitzbergen.