Iceland Misbehaving - Just For Us!.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Flag of Iceland  ,
Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"Haven't you heard about the bridge?" the tourist office lady exclaimed when we made a casual inquiry regarding availability of accommodation in the town we were heading for, to spend the night.

“No what has happened?”

“Well you won’t be able to head East for maybe 3 weeks. A Glacial Ice Flow has taken out the bridge 50 kms from here on Highway 1, in the early hours this morning. You will have to make new plans!”

“What is a glacial Ice flow?” we asked stunned. We knew that the volcano Hekla had been causing concern that it might erupt. The first day we arrived in Iceland we had turned our computer on and the MSN Australia page had the lead story of a new volcanic eruption predicted. Just earlier this morning we had talked to a couple at a view point who had said they had heard some report on the news that the Katla volcano had done “something” but they didn’t understand what it was. So this was the “something”.

“The scientists are not sure yet” she said "but it seems there may have been an eruption underneath the Myrdalsjoekull glacier from the Katla volcano which unexpectedly sent a mass of water and big blocks of ice down the river destroying the bridge and stranding some French tourists. You won't be going that way" then she added, "there are poisonous gasses, so there is an exclusion zone around the area and it has been totally evacuated" . Well it seems, even though the Icelanders are a bit coy in confirming that the bridge collapse was caused by volcanic activity,with poisonous gases involved one would think so! We drove down to ¨have a gander at the damage¨, however the Police were turning everyone back, due to the toxidity of the gasses still in the area.

We are in Vik, in the South of Iceland and up until this moment, excited about driving right around the whole island in our little hire car. New plans indeed!  It  transpired that if we had hired a 4 wheel drive instead of our little car we could have back tracked some 150 kms and then travelled a long way around, through very rough roads, over the glacial field that has just caused the difficulty. However now, this is not an option with our little VW Polo, which was half the hire price of a 4 wheel drive.

We had spent the previous day enjoying fantastic scenery, travelling through the UNESCO World Heritage listed Pingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park, which is an immense rift valley caused by the separating North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. It was then on to an amazing geyser field at Geysir after which all spouting hot springs are named.The "Kerboom" as the current most active one, Strokkur, erupts around every 5 minutes or so, shakes the earth and provides a spectacular display of power. We also were amazed at the double waterfall at Gullfoss which thunders down into a valley below. These three sights make up what Iceland call their Golden Circle and are often the only sights visitors see who are on a short stop over.

We head back towards Reykavik, the capital city where we had spent a day exploring after we had first arrived, but bypass it, and head North now instead, making up a new plan as we go along. We drive until we find a town, Borgannes, with a hostel, secure the last double room, then begin to plan again, using maps and the internet how best to use our days in Iceland.

Footnote  Pingvellir National Park is UNESCO World Heritage listed.
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