Over night it rained continuously and we decided to do the Golden Triangle today, that is Þingvellier, Geysir and Gullfoss. It didn't let up, also on the road, as the picture shows.
For Icelanders Þingvellier is a semi holy place, it was here that the first parliament assembled in 930. Parliament or the Althing was held in the open air, Jörgs comment, expieriencing the weather at the time, thought that this was surely not a good idea. My reply: no, just shows you these Icelanders were tough and a bit of inclement weather was no problem to them.
Thingvellier is also the site of some major cracks where the continents divide. We followed the big one all along in the rain. I got soaked despite my fancy jacket. Lunch we had in a little road site cafe.
On to Geysir where I didn't take many pictures because of the rain, I hope my camera survives that. Jörg with his water proof job had an advantage here. At Gullfoss it was the same problem and back to camp we went.
Iceland is full of these little pearls as we found out when we selected the camp-site for the night. But first to the days proceedings.
First item on the agenda was to have a look at some greenhouses and for that we went to the Icelandic Horticultural College just around the corner from the camp-site. We were a bit hesitant to just go into the greenhouses, but eventually we found a person who told us we can go and look at everything.
The first house we entered was the real hot house, my camera lens immidiately fogged up and took a while to clear. It is full of tropical and some subtropical plants, with some of them I felt at home. Even a banana tree, carrying fruit.
The next house was a proper research station where they were growing tomatoes. And two of the cubicles had CO2 enrichment. I remember that CO2 enrichment of the greenhouse atmosphere was something that was experimented with when I was young and a trainee horticulturist. We found somebody to talk to, yes enrichment works, it increases growth rate and improves the taste of the tomatoes. This gives me hope for the future, with our atmospheric CO2 levels increasing we will in future have more and better tasting tomatoes.
They are also experimenting with grafting the tomatoes onto a root stock, but he couldn't tell me how successful that is. The next thermal area was near by, it was noticed that we got saturated with thermals and hot springs. If it was not something very spectacular we would just walk past, possibly say 'here is an other one' and not even lift the camera.
The geothermal park is situated in the centre of town has also nothing spectacular. There is a place where you can stick your feet into hot water after paying IKr500 or even into mud, but that sets you back 700. We declined those offers but had a hot chocolate and a hot spring baked bread under some banana tree.
After lunch we went on our way, today the aim was to camp somewhere near the harbour from which the ferry would take us to Heimaey. In the town of Hvolsvollur we thought we had found one but after an inspection decided we don't like it, it had no Aufenthaltsraum and the toilets and showers where neglected and dirty.
At Information in town a young saga expert pointed us to some other camp sites and we made the right choice. On the road to Þörsmörk, just off the N1, we arrived at this beautyfull place surrounded by water falls.
We set off to have a closer look at all of them, the first one nearest to the camp was the most spectacular because it actually falls into a cave. Following the stream and balancing on some rocks we could get to the bottom of the fall. This was great, very difficult to take pictures because of all the spray.
The camping area is well appointed giving us an Aufenhaltsraum, toilets, shower (hot shower IKr300), but no free coffee and no internet.
This is the day for visiting Heimaey, so off we went down the road to catch the ferry, we could see it from far, a ship in the middle of the grassland. Its a new harbour and except for the ticket office there are no other buildings.
After purchasing the ticket of IKr1000 each we were informed via intercom that the boat will take us to Heimaey but there is no guarantee that it will make it back today because of the inclement weather. A tour group that had arrived with us decided to turn back, we as seasoned travellers thought that this could be fun and carried on.
Its a 35 minute ride on the ferry Herjölfur. It was still raining as we made our way off the ferry and up the road to the museum. But we were moving up the wrong road and had to do some fancy navigation and eventually arrived at some official looking building. Luck was on our side, its the library which also houses the museum.
So we paid our fees and had a look at some videos and the exhibits. The two big events in the history of the island was when some Arab pirates came in 1627 to raid the place and to take away slaves. The other event, more recent, was the eruption of Eldfell in 1973 which caused the island to be evacuated. Half the town was destroyed, flattened by the lava flow, and the rest was covered in ash. It was amazing to see how quickly the town was cleaned up and rebuilt after the eruption had stopped.
It was still raining when we made our way to the top of Eldfell (145m), which was the source of all the ash and lava. The wind was strong and I was happy to move down inside the crater, out of the wind. We made our way over to the church, the oldest, still standing building of the island, put up in 1857.
Coming back to the ferry we were told that it is not certain yet that they will go over, we had to wait for a weather update. 10 minutes later we were ushered onto the boat, there was a gap in the weather we had to move quickly.
Coming into the new harbour we could see where the problem is, its the relatively small entrance with a hell of a swell which could easily push the boat off course and onto the rocks.
From the ferry we decided not to go back, but rather to go forward to Skogar. We didn't like the camp site due to the lack of an Aufenthaltsraum (I must apologise for re-using this term again and again, its just that there is no good translation which describes this exactly) and went over to the hostel where we purchased a bed for the night at IKr3500 each. We had a good night.
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