Observing the water fall from the cliffs of basalt and through rapids in The Valley beneath was spectacular.
Our next stop was the town of Húsavík, a location made famous by Eurovision, a movie you can stream on Netflix with Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams.
The town is absolutely beautiful and is known as the capitol of whale watching. While we didn’t board a ship, we did visit the Whale Museum which is spectacular. Incredibly well done and worth the time to explore!
From Húsavík, we traveled on to Grjotagja cave, which conceals a thermal body of water. After visiting, I learned that it is a site of a Game of Thrones “love scene” featuring Jon Snow. Seeing screen captures of the location, the show makes it look incredibly large, when it reality, it is not. It also does not have a waterfall as the scene in the show portrays, they most likely used CGI to include this added feature.
I used my thermal camera to take readings out of curiosity while I normally spend time at Shanay-Timpishka, the boiling river of the Amazon. The highest reading I took was 109F which is about 47C. This is not boiling, but a comfortable hot tub like temperature — although entering these waters is not allowed. There is a time when an outlaw chose this as his hideout in Icelandic history, secluded, dark, ominous; it was perfect for a person on the run. Icelanders did not think highly of those that inhabited caves at this time and it was not desirable to enter such locations, even better for a person of less than desirable behavior. There was also a time when this location was used as public bathing until a nearby volcanic eruption took place, opening a fault and allowing additional heat to be released from the earth, this raising the temperature of the water to an intolerable level. Public use of the bathing cave ended but over the past hundred or so years, the water has returned to comfortable temperatures, although public used for bathing is not allowed. It wouldn’t be the most desirable place to bath anyway while sulphur deposits create an aroma of boiled eggs that is very strong.
Walking above the cave was exciting, seeing the earth’s crust split open at varying widths and to see small plants within the crevices — quite enjoyable.
On to Námafjall – or as I like to call it-Mars. This is a large area of geothermal activity, with an overwhelming sulphuric smell, but mesmerizing thermal mud, small streams, and chimneys. This was incredibly fascinating again, to compare to the fieldwork in the Amazon. This is what geothermal systems are “supposed” to look like, smell like, and feel like — The planet mars.
The sounds of bubbling mud pots was incredible, the wind gargles it in my videos but it was like chili in a large cauldron that boils — the bubbles creeping through viscous substance, piping it’s way at the top and the substance plopping back into place.
Kafla was out next and last geothermal stop for the day. It is a caldera with insanely blue water, it was incredibly windy making this summit cold but absolutely worth it.
To get to the caldera itself, we passed through a geothermal power plant, snaking our way around and through pipe systems harnessing the incredible power of the earth to create sustainable energy for the island. I will be studying this process in more depth next week.
Following all the sulfurous exploration, we took a short break at a new cafe called Beitarhusid. The couple that owns it are friendly and happy to teach me about ástarpungar, a traditional bakery item that wives create for their husbands as a secret message to “meet them later on in the barn”. The literal translation of the treat is ástar (love) pungar (sack) — yes…love sacks like *ahem* I think you know. There is also an old tale of an unfaithful woman whose husband took the anatomy of the man with whom his wife was unfaithful…so there is that side of the story as well *gasp*
Nonetheless, this is a tasty treat and I recommend you try it when in Iceland!
The last stop of the day was Fardgafoss, a waterfall with a quite difficult climb near the end. I literally gripped mountain and a chain fixed the the cliff side in order to reach the end point. The ground was quite wet but the view — oh the view was spectacular, topped with a beautiful rainbow — could Iceland be any more magical?
Until tomorrow, my friends — keep exploring!