20 kms Away From An Active Volcano

Trip Start Mar 27, 2010
Trip End Jul 04, 2010

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Flag of Iceland  ,
Saturday, May 15, 2010

Left town in our little Toyota Yaris, and headed east. Took a lessor road that skirted Lake Žingvallavatn for the view, and ended up in Žingvellir which is an ancient and fascinating place. Trivia fact #1 for the day - Iceland has the longest continuous parliamentary system dating back over 1000 years. It started in 930AD in Žingvellir. It's a cold, windswept and barren place, but has lots of water. Ancient Icelanders used to walk here once a year to hear the law read (writing was not yet invented), settle disputes, catch up on national events, and decide retribution. All chieftains had a seat. It took some of them 4 weeks to walk there, sometimes across the glaciers. You can only hope that they bartered a good wife for their troubles.

It was there that they decided the country would be Christian about 1000AD, and erected the first church. A church is still operating there, but its certainly not the original. It's said that the chieftains refused to be baptised in the cold stream, and so they all trooped off to the nearby hot springs.

We moved on to Geysir, and saw Stokkur do its stuff every 10 minutes. Trivia fact #2 - 'geyser' is the only Icelandic word in the English language. The big one called Geysir now only erupts after earthquakes. Then on to the large waterfall at Gullfoss, which was one of the better ones I've seen, before having some lunch. Trivia fact #3 - the canyon that the waterfall empties into is the junction between the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates, so you can actually stand with one foot in Europe and one foot in America.

Drove south and joined the main highway #1 which circles the island, and on to Hvolsvöllur where our hostel is. The Eyjafjallajökull volcano is only 20km away, and is quite active today. We can watch it erupt from our window. For the last 10km or so there was ash all over the road, and every car going past threw up a cloud, just like cars do in the rain. Arrived to find an over exuberant dog, and a confused reception. They actually have us booked into the hotel section, and we're certainly not complaining about the suite we've been given. Not quite the usual hostel standard.

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hodgiedot on

Wow to be so close to the volcanic eruptions! Amazing!

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