Return to Reykjavik

Day 78 to 80. 16th to 18th September. Kirkjubæjarklaustur to Reykjavik, Iceland.

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Continuing from the previous three posts….  I had got stuck in the snow in a remote highlands road with a storm approaching.  I was rescued by Emergency Services who got the vehicle out but we then had to abandon it.  I was dropped at an hotel in Kirkjubæjarklaustur.  Had it just been freeing the vehicle there would have been no charge but I got charged a significant amount for the lift to Kirkjubæjarklaustur which was fair enough.

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Architecture, Highlands, History, Iceland, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness

When the storm came, it was a freak storm even by Icelandic standards, with winds up to 200 kilometres per hour, rather like a cold climate cyclone, typhoon or hurricane.  On the main road along the south coast, some cars had their windscreens blown in and some small cars were blown off the road and rolled.  Not a good situation to be in.  This is the next day on that road, with most of the storm blown over but still pretty wild.  The driver of our vehicle tried to wave at one small car to persuade them to turn round and go back.

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Architecture, Highlands, History, Iceland, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness

Some people from the rental company, J. S. Campers, drove out to pick me up and were intending to pick up the campervan and take it back with them but this required the cooperation of emergency services and proved not possible.  So they drove back and dropped me at Reykjavik.  Now when you take a rental car into the highlands there is virtually no possibility of insurance so I had to pay a very considerable sum for repair of the vehicle.  No complaints there, I knew about this before I hired the vehicle and still got a good deal.  Should I be in the market to hire a 4wd campervan in Iceland again, I would probably go back to J. S. Campers.

Before I left Iceland, we knew what had happened to the camper van.  It wasn’t just that the engine needed rebuilding.   The vehicle had been left on an exposed plain and when the storm hit, wild winds loaded with scoria particles had effectively sandblasted it.  Consequently, it also needed repainting.

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Architecture, Highlands, History, Iceland, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness

When I got back to Australia, they sent me some photos of the vehicle.  As well as the general sandblasting, the winds were so ferocious that the rear window of the campervan was blown in.  Had I been in it, I would have clamped down the expandable top of the campervan because that was obviously unstable, but I would not have expected the window to blow in.  The couch in the image above where the glass is lying would also have been my bed.  Mind you, the place where I was originally bogged was on an uphill slope in a perhaps more sheltered valley facing in a different direction so perhaps this may not have happened there.  However, had I been inside the campervan and had the window blown in, I would have been in a very uncomfortable and perilous situation.

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Architecture, Highlands, History, Iceland, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness

Going back to the journey from Kirkjubæjarklaustur to Reykjavik:  I took occasional photographs, often through the window in the back seat of the car.

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Architecture, Highlands, History, Iceland, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness

Here at the foot of a cliff is an old house or barn with dry stone walls and a turf roof, with a more modern structure built behind it.

(Click on an image if you’d like to see more detail).

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Architecture, Highlands, History, Iceland, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness

More old structures with turf rooves, though the fascia is clearly twentieth century.

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Modern farm buildings with old structures out the back.

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Architecture, Highlands, History, Iceland, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness

A large house or inn dwarfed by the landscape.

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Architecture, Highlands, History, Iceland, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness

A farm with its own waterfall.

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A different waterfall but very close by.

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This is Seljalandsfoss, which I had photographed eleven days earlier on a still, fine day.

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You can see how much gusts of wind are affecting the waterfall.

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Architecture, Highlands, History, Iceland, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness .

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Architecture, Highlands, History, Iceland, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness

This is probably Hekla in the distance.

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Architecture,

Farms and clouds.

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Architecture, Highlands, History, Iceland, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness

We are now in Reykjavik.  This is an archæological site under city buildings, featuring a Viking long house from the original time of settlement.  It is at The Settlement Exhibition Reykjavík 871±2.

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Architecture, Highlands, History, Iceland, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness

This is from a charming locality near the centre of Reykjavik.  From memory the red building dates back to the eighteenth century.   Due to my unplanned adventures I did not have as much time in Reykjavik as I intended but it was never a major focus for me.  On the next day I flew back to Australia.

So this is the end of my journey in Iceland and my last sequential Iceland post.  There have been over fifty posts and nearly 900 images.  It is also the end of my larger journey where I also visited Scotland, the outer islands, the Lofoten Islands, Spitsbergen and Greenland.

Next will be a live music post.  Then about another half dozen posts from Iceland, monochrome conversions of selected images already posted in colour.

 

 

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Reykjavik to Hraunfossar

Days 51-53 . 18th to 20th August, Iceland (West Coast)

Before I generate the permanent posts for the recent Madagascar/ South Georgia trip,  I am posting on my month in Iceland towards the end of 2013, part of my North Atlantic trip.

I had sailed in the Polar Pioneer from Spitsbergen down the coast of Greenland and we arrived in Ísafjörður on the 18th of August. The same day I took a plane to Reykjavik and then a taxi to the western satellite town of Reykjanesbær, where I picked up my rental vehicle.

On the way I discovered one of the many ways in which Iceland is different. I couldn’t get the ATM at the airport to give me any money but the card was OK and in Iceland you can use credit cards almost anywhere – in taxis, for example. I later discovered that the petrol stations also all work by credit card. This is very handy because you wouldn’t want to be unable to get fuel in a remote corner of the country on a weekend.

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History, Iceland, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness .

This is the vehicle I hired. I was to be in Iceland for a month and for the first fortnight I drove around the coastal road in a huge camper. I’d never driven one before and I don’t think it was such a great choice for me. The expected advantage was being able to stop overnight at great locations but it was too large and unwieldy to take down many interesting roads.  I’d have been better with a smaller more spartan vehicle or a 4WD and maybe even staying in accommodations.

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Hraunfossar .

Before I headed off I had a few things to organise in Reykjavik. I’d had a Baker’s Cyst in one leg which had become infected so I was pumped full of antibiotics for my last couple of days on the ship and confined to bed. That was a concern but in a visit to the hospital I was pronounced cured. So that just left the strained achilles tendon in the other leg (from an old sporting injury) that slowed me down and mitigated against any long walks. That slowly came good over the next couple of weeks.

The card I bought for my phone wasn’t working so I bought an Icelandic one and had a working phone. This was to become very important much later.

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History, Iceland, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness .

This rather nondescript street scene in Reykjavik shows two things. It is near the camping ground I was staying at and in the buildings at the left is the Sony headquarters. The transformer for my laptop had died and I was able to replace it and so be able to back up my images and review or process them. It also gives an indication of the weather. Scotland had actually been warm and dry and I had had good weather in the Lofoten Islands, Spitsbergen and Greenland. All the wet weather had gone to Iceland and for the first two weeks it was raining most of the time.

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History, Iceland, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness .

On my way out of Reykjavik on the 20th, I visited a small sculpture park in the suburb of Laugarnes, beside the sea.

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History, Iceland, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness .

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History, Iceland, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness .

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History, Iceland, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness .

Leaving Reykjavik, my next stop was at a museum in Borgarnes, Borgarnes Settlement Centre. Then I took a road inland towards some waterfalls. This led past the home of Snorri Sturlson (1179-1241) at Reykholt, which I did not photograph because it was closed. Snorri was a poet, the writer of Heimskringla (a history of Norwegian Kings) and probably author of Egil’s Saga. He was for many years Lawspeaker of the Althing, the Parliament of all the peoples, so a position of great power and influence. This was a period of civil strife and war in both Iceland and Norway and Snorri was a leader of a push to become part of Norway. He was murdered in his house in 1241.

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History, Iceland, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness .

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History, Iceland, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness .

This is Hraunfossar, a series of cascades over a lava bed, “hraun” meaning lava and “fossar” is waterfall.

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History, Iceland, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Reykjavik, Travel, Wilderness .

Very close to Hraunfossar is Barnafoss, the Children’s Waterfall. The story goes that there used to be a natural arch here and one Christmas day when the rest of the family were attending church, two children fell from this arch and drowned. Their grief-stricken mother then had the arch destroyed.