REYKJAVIK, ICELAND - DAY 1


Iceland is an island country in the North  Atlantic, situated between Greenland and Norway. Formerly a possession of Denmark, it gained it's full independence in 1944. Culturally it is considered to be part of Europe. The country has a population of about 320,000 and a total area of 103,000 km (40,000 sq mi), which makes it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The island has 30 volcanos, many of them active, as well as numerous hot springs and geysers, and experiences, on average, one earthquake or tremor a day. With the widespread availability of geothermal power, and the harnessing of many rivers and waterfalls for hydroelectricity, residents have access to inexpensive hot water, heating and electricity.
The capital and largest city is Reykjavik. Its latitude, at 64°08' N, makes it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. The city was founded in 1786 as an official trading town and grew steadily over the next decades, as it transformed into a regional and later national centre of commerce, population and governmental activities. It is among the cleanest, best organized, and safest cities in the world.

Prior to arriving in Iceland, we spent two days at sea. The first day at sea the temperature was 9 C / 48 F with strong SSW gale force winds, caused by a low pressure disturbance forming between Norway and Iceland. The ship had to adjust its course north to a latitude of 64 22n (for reference, the Arctic Circle is at latitude 69n) to avoid the worst of the disturbance. By the second day, the worst of the storm was passed and we had clear sailing to Iceland. On arrival in Iceland, the weather was overcast, with strong breezes and a temperature of 9 C / 48 F.

The first few pictures were taken that first sea day.

 

The first day at sea started quietly enough, with the swells being a normal 10 ' high. 
 

As the day wore on, the swells became higher, increasing to around 25' or so, as the low pressure front started to cause havoc to the south-east. While it may not look like much here, keep in mind we were on deck 7, which is roughly equivalent to being on a 9th floor balcony.


What happens when the ship's bow dips into the trough between swells.


The bigger the swells, the bigger the wake.


The rough seas lasted for most of the night, calming by the morning of the second day.


By the time we docked in Reykjavik, the sea was calm but the weather was overcast with the occasional bout of rain. The harbour area as not particularly exciting or picturesque, as it was some distance from the city.


Tour buses waiting for the passengers to clear customs.


As I said, not particularly pretty, but we could see the city centre in the background.


Since our tour wasn't until later in the afternoon, we headed to the Lido deck for lunch. This was the view we saw at the back of the ship on the opposite side of the dock.
The Island is called Viðey and it is a popular place for day trips.  
   

One of the crew members referred to the house as "The Gorby house", stating that this was where Reagan and 
Gorbachev met in 1986. We found out later that was incorrect.

Apart from its ancient ruins and rich historical background, other attractions include impressive works of art by Yoko Ono (the Imagine Peace Tower) and Richard Serra (the Milestones project). The church in Viðey is one of the oldest in the country and the Viðey House is the first building in the country to be constructed with stone. With an extensive network of trails, the island can be explored both on foot and by horseback.   



The remnants of the storm could still be seen in the distance.



The tour we took later that afternoon was to the Blue Lagoon.

The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa and one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. The warm waters are rich in minerals and bathing in the Blue Lagoon is reputed to help some people suffering from skin diseases such as psoriasis. The water temperature in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon averages 37–39 °C (98–102 °F).

 

The lagoon is situated in the black lava fields
on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland. The rocks lining the path into the spa are typical of the black lava fields throughout Iceland. The upheaval of the rocks (different from most lava fields) has probably been caused by the frequent eruptions and earthquakes/tremors the island experiences. There was a time when travelers refused to cross the fields at night because they imagined the odd shapes of rocks to be malevolent creatures, such as Trolls.


Where didn't take any pictures while in the lagoon, as neither Izak or my camera is waterproof, but I was able to take these pictures afterward in the restaurant area
(those little dots in the water are actually bathers). Thankfully, the skies cleared while we were there.


The Lagoon itself is enormous, and the spa facilities include a hotel, in water massages, saunas, steam baths, a skin care shop, showers, a restaurant and a lagoon side bar, should one feel the need to imbibe while relaxing.



A lovely place to spend the afternoon.


 
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