Iceland’s Awesome

I started writing this post @ Oslo International Airport, Norway – Dec 7, 2011, 11:11 AM, intended to finish it shortly after and post it from wherever next that wouldn’t require a credit card and/or functioning mobile phone for “free wifi”… Meanwhile it’s almost a week later in Leuven, Belgium.  Oh well…

Iceland's rural vastness is beautiful. Random photo taken from moving car.

Iceland has always been high on my dream list of places I’d ‘someday’ wanted to visit, so this last wintery week there is one that came true.  I now have lovely Iceland on my list of places I’d like to come back to sooner rather than later.  (It might be awhile to build up my completely ruined savings again, butoh well…)  Loved every minute of it.  (Maybe not completely counting the post-reykjavik-nightlife hangovers, but that was all well worth it, too).

I couldn’t have had this great of a week in Iceland without the hospitality and help of Jón and his 4WD car to drive through snow banks, brave extremely icy roads, and go to several spots I would otherwise have missed. THANK YOU! Takk!!!

Icelandic Road to Lunacy...

–> For a couple of my earlier blog posts on Iceland, see my ‘First Impressions of Iceland’, some pictures of ‘Icelandic Fashion and Window Installations’, and the amazing modern architecture building ‘Harpa’ by the harbor.

OBVIOUSLY, I’ve run completely behind posting about

  • Reykjavik’s awesome nightlife… (just go and have fun, it’s easy)
  • Superb dining (wished I had more money to burn!)…
  • Hot springs (mmm…)  Loved Blue Lagoon!
  • Geysers (whoa!) – See photos below
  • Waterfalls (half-frozen aweseomness – wowza!, See photos below
  • Iceland’s history…
  • music scene…
  • Its peculiar ancient nordic language…
  • Elaborate on its politics and national assemblies…  Oh well, maybe I’ll revisit the theme when my attention returns to participatory democracy someday… (?)
  • The can of blubber known as ‘whaling politics…‘ (or does that fall under ‘dining? – See below)
  • My thoughts on the return of fur acceptance in fashion (not always ‘faux fur’ at all!), as seen in urban centers like Reykjavik, where I even petted real wolf and polar bear furs…  Must say/ Must watch: Seriously wish fashionistas would pay much more attention to where the furs they sell/buy may be coming from… ;-(  I’ll leave it at…  Also “for now”.
  • The cold spell this early December (coldest first December week in half a century!).  Oh we’re going to miss global warming
  • The tremors around the volcano Kapla, geothermal energy possibilities, and what have you…

Way too many topics, impressions, conversations, insights and developments to share all here. Simple:  Iceland rocks.  Wonderful energy.  Just add a couple big trees and a real forest and I would want to live there… after I win the lotery.

A couple snapshots is all I can come up with as my focus in Belgium is already shifting from travel to ‘reintegration into this conventional society…’

I may be more flexible (or unpredictable?) than most my fellow eco-warrior friends. Yup... Got my politically incorrect "mercury fix" @ 2290 ISK - A once-n-a-lifetime splurge. Click Image to access Menu.

Blips, bytes and pieces of my recent travels were put on Facebook for ‘friends’ to enjoy, with the whale meal resulting in a handful of ‘defriendings’.  They must love the whale more than me, I guess.  I tried out Minke Whale at a restaurant…   [Same here: Go ahead and “unsubscribe”, I do care, but popularity isn’t my strength.]  Minke is not endangered or threatened in the Northern Atlantic and Iceland’s quota is rarely reached.  Anyhow, it was delicious, softer and more fat-seeming than lamb, tastier than cow (I’d say: even better than Alpaca steak, which I tried in Peru many years ago and I’d consider better than cow steak), with a bit of stringiness also found in horse.  It’s actually really damn tasty.  Too bad it’s so high in heavy metals from global industrial pollution, especially whale meat’s mercury content is troublesome (think ‘gold mining’, etc.), which makes it not something I’ll likely eat again.  Also, given their highly evolved mammal intelligence and dreaming-the-world-into-being capacities as co-creators and guardians of the dream world  (in shaman’s speak) and ocean animal kingdom, it was probably akin, or even worse, than eating a fellow human at a cannibal restaurant.  (On that note, let me clarify that I have no idea what human flesh tastes like …yet…) Very interesting whale energy to connect with so directly and literally, though, and a whole other experience than the whale watching a couple months ago, off Vancouver Island, Canada…

Replica of flat-bottom Viking boat in Kevlavik Airport. / They sure pillaged and plundered where most my ancestors are from. (It’s okay, that was awhile ago), but... kinda like them Viking people and the places their independence-oriented descendants call home nowadays.

What follows are just some photos I [or my friend/host/guide Jón] took, with whatever thoughts that arose looking at the images while writing this, over (unfortunately just one) Norwegian over-the-top-ridiculously-expensive Pilsner in the Oslo Airport…

Photos from Geysir, Gold Falls and Gunnuhver and right near there:

 .

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A geyser near Geysir building up over several minutes...

Suddenly shoots up, starting as a ball of water; Photo by Jon.

... to explode in full awesomeness right in front of me... ... ...Collapse, and and start the pulsing process all over again... Photo by Jon A.G. - Dec 2011.

Map of Iceland showing its main geothermal hot regions

Gold Falls, see below, was an amazing surpise.  Cold as could be, but so beautiful, powerful and unique:

At Gold Falls, Iceland. Photos by Michael Van Broekhoven, unless otherwise noted. Dec. 2011

Love this photo Jon took of me at Gold Falls, Iceland. Dec 2011.

A day trip took us to Gunnehver, with much hot steam bubbling and bursting out of the earth’s crust.  Power plants, some power spots to visit, and a story about its name.  Interesting to see “second sight” acknowledged on the official sign, not often the case in, for instance, mainland Europe where the overly rational dominant culture STILL often denies these sensory gifts (after centuries of having attempted to exterminate anyone who was gifted in that way…).

One of many geothermal power plants in south-western Iceland

Gunnuhver. Can you hear her? --- All part of the volcanically very active mid-Atlantic rift...

See story in text below

In Icelandic --- ENGLISH --- and German

Coast near Gunnuhver, Iceland on an unusually icy December afternoon, 2011.

The magnificent icy coast of south-western Iceland on that extremely cold and windy December 2011 late afternoon, above.

Below, from the same spot near Gunnuhver, a statue of a bird hunted to extinction in and around Iceland about a century ago.  The bird’s last colony is believed to have been killed on the distant island (visible in the direction the bird statue looks, to the right on the horizon).  The hunters had no idea it was the last of the whole species…

A lone well-done tribute to an extinct bird... and a chilling reminder of human ignorance's often severe consequences.

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