We had a big adventure this day. During our trip into the interior of Iceland, a storm moved onshore to meet us as we arrived in Vik. If it had come onshore in Florida, especially during our storm season, it would have been called a hurricane!
Iceland’s interior is a vast part of the country with little population. Most of it is only accessible during the summertime and is rugged and snowy otherwise. It is remote and virtually untouched, reminding me of the outback in Australia.
Since this is not summer, we only saw a small part of it. Our first stop was Thingvellir National Park in southwestern Iceland, 25 miles from Reykjavík. The park is historically, culturally, and geologically significant.
It lies in a rift valley and is the only place in the world where one can see the Mid-Atlantic Drift. The rest of the ridge is underwater. The rift is the boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. It is a continental drift that can be seen in its cracks and faults.
We took a path through one of the cracks. Amazing!
The Vikings must have known how special this place was, because it is also the place where the Althing took place. This was the national parliament of Iceland, established over a thousand years ago in 930 AD. They met here annually until 1798 when it was moved to the capital, Reykjavík.
Their description of their parliament reminded me of the rendezvous held by the mountain men in America, except the Icelandic parliament always met here in this one place.
Assemblymen came but also ordinary people, too, such as merchants, tanners, and anyone who wanted to sell their goods and services. Games and feasts were held, and people exchanged stories and news. This was a meeting place for all Icelanders.
Though they no longer meet here, the area is preserved for perpetuity for its cultural significance.
This is beautiful scenery here.
Thingvellir is one stop on Iceland’s Golden Circle, but they just announced that we will miss the next stop, the Gullfoss, the Golden waterfall, a wonderful waterfall that all of us looked so forward to seeing and hiking.
The storm may cause the closure of a pass that we must cross in order to get to Vik on the other side of the pass and the site of our hotel for the next three days.
On our way to the pass we stopped for about a thirty minute lunch break and got to quickly see the third site on the Golden Circle, the geysers of Haukadalur. By the way they pronounce geyser as geezer. It took us a few minutes to realize what she was talking about.
We realized that Iceland is really a giant Yellowstone Park— a geological hot spot on earth. We took a quick walk through a geyser field before leaving.
Finally, we boarded again and lit out like a scalded dog headed for Vik and the pass in question. There was no doubt that a storm was coming, and it was truly a Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, though this one lasted for over an hour and was for real.
We were warned about the weather here. We were told to bring rain gear, woolens, waterproof boots, and even crampons. We already saw ice flurries the first night in Reykjavík.
But the winds already reached 50 mph plus and even more were expected later as we continued to drive into the teeth of the winter storm. They tried to get us to the hotel as quickly as possible. One time it felt like a blast of wind caused the bus to clear all its wheels off the pavement on one side. The whole bus load of visitors gasped.
We are driving around the volcano that erupted a few years ago and blanketed Europe resulting in the largest air traffic stoppages since WWII.
At one point there was even whitecaps on a cow pond. I apologize that I have no photos, but it was almost impossible to capture this through the windows of the bus. My photos were blurry.
Finally, we arrived in Vik on Iceland’s southern shore and will be here for three days. They quickly rushed us to dinner, so we could get into our rooms early. The winds are expected to increase to 90 mph around 11 PM. They even parked a van at our building’s glass front doors to protect it. Wow!