Arrived in Iceland in the evening and met up with a friend from Oxford who was there for a conference. We wandered round Reykjavik looking at the houses and streets. We were going to go to a restaurant serving Iceland cuisine but it was rather expensive and we didn't actually fancy eating puffin, minke whale, or cured shark. So we went for a pizza instead. Afterwards we wandered up to the cathedral - a magnificent structure like the prow of a ship. In front of the cathedral is a statue of Leif Ericsson - perhaps the only statue of a heathen in front of a cathedral? Even though the cathedral was about to close for the evening, the staff there kindly allowed us in to look. The interior is amazing too - very plain and simple, very graceful architecture. On the way back we saw a street named after Odin, and another named after Baldur. I also got excited because I saw a colourful fire hydrant. My friend, who is from Pittsburgh, and Bob (my boyfriend), who is Canadian, thought I was weird until I pointed out that we don't have fire hydrants in the UK. The sun never really set that night and it stayed light all night - but we managed to sleep. We stayed in a hostel called FIThostel - very cheap, very clean, lots of facilities, and a very short drive from the airport.
26 MayWe got up early and drove to Thingvellir, which is interesting for two reasons - it is where the rift between the North Atlantic plate and the European plate can be seen, and it is where the Icelandic Parliament (Allthing) met from 930 to the late 1700s. I saw a redwing perched on a rock. It was very quiet when we got there, as we had beaten the tour buses. On the way, we passed the beautiful Thingvallavatn (Thingvellir Lake). We saw the Law Rock where the Law-speaker proclaimed the Icelandic laws - from memory, in three instalments over three successive parliaments. Various parts of the site were used for executions, which was a bit grim. Next we drove to Geysir, where we saw several geysers, including one that splashed us with hot sulphurous steam. Bob committed Morris dancing in front of it. Lastly we went to Gullfoss, where I saw my first glacier, in the distance, among the mountains. Gullfoss (golden waterfall) is absolutely amazing. It is a very wild place, and you can get really close to the waterfall. There are two diagonal steps and then the water flows into a gorge that is like a huge chasm. The site was saved from development by a local woman, Sigríður Tómasdóttir.