Iceland is — exciting! (1)

First stop: Grabrokargigar (Grabrok Crater), a small volcano you can climb and walk around at the top.
A minor crater on the way up. You can do the climb even after recent knee surgery, as I conclusively proved.
Late that evening we went riding on docile Islandic horses. In the end, when dismounting, I fell off, severely fracturing my pride and self-esteem. Two young ladies helped me back to my feet — can you imagine how painful that is?
Did I mention: it never gets really dark in the summer months. The above picture is after 11 p.m. in the “night”.
Second day: click on the image for a panoramic view of Mývatn, the “Mosquito Lake” we visited.
Thankfully the “mosquitoes” are a kind of gnat that roost on the lava underground — and don’t appear to be able to sting or suck blood.
A crevice, like the ones you find all over the island. They are caused by shifting plates and volcanic activity.
Goðafoss, “waterfall of the gods”, the first of many very impressive places we visited.
Dinner with the travel group, and after that, late in the evening we are off to…
… whale watching. I inquired about whale hunting, but apparently that is no longer an option in Iceland.
You sail out into the fjord, on a whale spotting ship with a marine biologist guide, and very soon…
… you encounter your first humpback. There were about eight of them we saw, feeding in the fjord.
The humpbacks came up fairly close to show us how they do it — very impressive indeed. An average humpback will eat 2000 kg of krill and small schooling fish each day during the feeding season in cold waters.
When they breach or dive under you see their tails, and our marine biologist recognized half a dozen by the individual marking of the tail fins. She had names for each of them and treated them like old acquaintances.
Even the geologist is awe-struck: a vast lava field we traversed on the third day. It led to …
… another incredibly impressive waterfall. Click to enlarge and spot the people, to correctly gauge the dimensions here.
A beautiful blue lake filling a crater.
Look at the two people on the top right — that gives you an impression of the size of the crater.
A geothermal field, where you must stick to the designated paths. A Japanese lady, we were told, did not and had to be rushed to hospital with severe foot burns.
Hot thermal pools of bubbling mud and sludge
Steam vents all over the place. Mind you, the air temperature is just a few degrees above zero…
… which makes the contrast of cold and internal heat even more impressive.
Florian checking out a vent. We rushed him to hospital — no, just kidding, he was careful.
A stop in a motorway station — actually a lovely little café and gift shop, built in older Icelandic style.
Normally it’s kings and queens, or famous places. Guess what the Icelanders have on their coins.
The island is covered in — sheep, hundreds of thousands of them. They come in groups of three, a mama and two baby lambs. They are unbearably cute and (I feel really bad about saying this) absolutely delicious. In our hotels we were constantly served lamb, which does not have the typical mutton taste that many do not like.
Finally a view from our hotel, with an ominously advancing glacier.

Follow-up stories

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Frederic Alois Friedel, born in 1945, science journalist, co-founder of ChessBase, studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford.

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The Friedel Chronicles

The Friedel Chronicles

Frederic Alois Friedel, born in 1945, science journalist, co-founder of ChessBase, studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford.

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