. OnHiatus.com > Journal 1 > Day Index > Journal Entry: October 16, 1999

Saturday, October 16, 1999
Reykjavik, Iceland
Iceland's FlagReykjanes Peninsula's Flag

Map
Reykjavik, Iceland:
Latitude: 64° 8' 47" North
Longitude: 21° 52' 25" West
Altitude: 131 feet
From Seattle: 4069 miles
Lodging: Hostel - Reykjavik Youth Hostel

Map
Today's Travel:
Country: Iceland
Region: Reykjanes Peninsula
Route: Tour Bus: Reykjavik - Kerið Crater - Gullfoss - Geysir - Hveragerði - Reykjavik
Start: Reykjavik, Iceland
Stop 1. Kerið Crater
Stop 2. Gullfoss
Stop 3. Geysir
Stop 4. Hveragerði
End:Reykjavik, Iceland
Linear:128 miles
Weather: Partial Sun / Mostly Sunny

Available Photos:

The Crater Kerið Crater, Iceland

Langjökull glacier Gullfoss, Iceland

The Falls Gullfoss, Iceland

The Falls Gullfoss, Iceland

The Falls Gullfoss, Iceland

The Falls Gullfoss, Iceland

The Falls Gullfoss, Iceland

The Falls Gullfoss, Iceland

The Falls Gullfoss, Iceland

The Falls Gullfoss, Iceland

Strokkur geyser Geysir, Iceland

Strokkur geyser Geysir, Iceland

Strokkur geyser Geysir, Iceland

Strokkur geyser Geysir, Iceland

All photo images © 1997-2000 Anthony Jones - Images may not be used without prior written approval.

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Map
Trip Stats to Date:
Day: 919
Linear Dist: 175170
Countries Visited: 61
Regions Visited: 243
More stats...
Hotels: 283
Friends / Family: 223
Camping: 120
Hostels: 220
Transit: 59
Other Lodging: 13
Beers: 3353
Hide...

Journal Entry:
Up at eight for the tour. Way to early, but got to see a beautiful sunrise - looks like blue skies today! Moved my stuff into the luggage room (have to change rooms tonight). Go outside a few minutes early to wait. And wait. And wait. It's cold outside so I keep jumping in to warm up. Finally when they're fifteen minutes late I go in to ask the manager where they are. He tells me I'm fifteen minutes late - I've missed them. I tell him I've been out there twenty and he tries to call the company and can't get hold of them. Apparently there was a group that got on from the hostel - so the bus did come - they must have come early while I was putting my stuff in the luggage room. The manager is very apologetic and I'm pretty unhappy, it's not as if I can go tomorrow... I finally find an afternoon tour that covers most of the same places and book it.

Spend the morning being lazy and reading. Later went for a walk and hiked among the tons of public art (sculptures) outside the city center.

Waited for the tour bus (again) and was starting to panic (again) when they were fifteen minutes late, but they showed up.

First stop was Kerið Crater, not to far outside of Reykjavik. It's an old crater - quite deep - with a lake inside it. Nothing like the scale of Crater Lake in Oregon, but also very beautiful. The surrounding rocks are such a bright green from the moss and grass. Here I realized that it may be beautiful and sunny out but it's cold! Maybe 4° C (39° F) and with the brisk wind...

We drove by the Langjökull glacier - Europe's second largest - and it does look big. Stopped at Gullfoss (literally "Golden Falls"). These are beautiful falls. They cut diagonally across a canyon and fall in a couple levels. You can get as close as you like (or dare) to the water at the top or half way down. Hiked around the falls and along the canyon rim for an hour.

Geysir was the first geyser ever discovered - and is where the word "geyser" comes from. Unfortunately the Geysir geyser is mostly dormant. They used to pour soap into it to force it to erupt on demand - obviously not done anymore. Fortunately there is another geyser (Strokkur) in the park that erupts every four to six minutes. It's no where as high as Geysir, but still spectacular - and not much of a wait (as I remembered sitting in a hail storm in Yellowstone waiting for the Riverside geyser for over an hour - before giving up!) Sat through five or six eruptions then wandered through the other springs - not too exciting since the wind rippled the surface preventing good visibility in the normally crystal blue water.

The last stop on the tour was Hveragerði a large village (almost two thousand people) that is almost exclusively supported by geothermically heated (like all of Iceland) greenhouse farming. The greenhouse we got to visit was a total tourist trap - tacky souvenirs took up at least eighty percent of the the space.

Back at the hostel I just couldn't motivate myself to go get diner so I made do with the vending machine (not exactly healthy). At some point a large fireworks display started going off over the city. I stepped out to watch it and when I glanced the other direction got a real show! The Aurora Borealis display was incredible.

It started out as a line across the sky. It looked like a long cloud lit by the city lights underneath - except it was slightly green and the city wasn't under it. Really not that much different from the faint aurora I saw over Isle Royal in Michigan - but much brighter. As I watched it clarified and turned into a wall or ribbon - and then in began to dance. "Dance" seems like such a cheesey way to describe it, but really it is the only way I can - and it's inadequate. The ribbon looped and swirled into its self, creating a spiral maze with purple and blue flares as well as green. The aurora was spectacular and grand, yet personal. It touched me and I couldn't help but wonder if everyone else would see the same thing, or if it would be a totally different show for everyone who watched. Eventually it settled down to the same faint "cloud" and I felt the cold again.

Got my gear mostly packed so I could more easily catch the five thirty bus tot the airport. Finally got to bed around one - the five AM alarm is going to be brutal...


Related Sites:
CNN: Current Weather in Reykjavik
US State Department Consular Information Sheets: Iceland
CIA World Fact Book: Iceland

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