Monday, July 28, 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014 – Akureyri, Iceland – Partly Cloudy - 63F

Distance from Seydisfjordur, Iceland to Akureyri, Iceland: 210 Nautical Miles

Improving weather in Akureyri in the north of Iceland…


Port Information.  Akureyri is only 36 miles from the Arctic Circle so this time of year (e.g. today - Sunrise is at 2:44 AM and Sunset at 11:49 PM.  Akureyri is the Capital of North Iceland and is an important port (it has a population of about 17,800 people).  In 1000, after several days of contemplation, Chieftain Thorgeir of Ljosvarn threw all his Norse idols into the Godafoss Falls (Falls of the Gods) and declared that Iceland would become a Christian Nation.  He also declared that the old Norse religion could also be practiced but only in secrecy.

Both of us are on tour today - “Godafoss Waterfall, Namaskard, and Dimmuborgir”.  My guide is Helga, a retired school teacher.

Before the tour got underway, I was able to get some very nice pictures of the harbor (which by the way does not freeze in the Winter due to it’s microclimate).

Near us in the harbor was a ship with a helicopter on its deck.  I couldn’t quite figure out what kind of vessel it was.

  20140712_in the fjord (Small)

Ship with Copter on Deck

We coaxed a passenger to take a picture of us on deck.

20140712_on deck pre tour (Small)

20140712_blurry but nice (Small)

The scenic views from the deck were fantastic as can be seen in the photo below.

 20140712_fjord from ship (Small)

Our first stop would be Godafoss Falls.  Again, the terrain on the way was amazing.

20140712_ on the road to Godafass Falls 1 (Small)

On the way to the Falls

The Godafoss Waterfall is located in the Myvatn (pronounced “Meeva”) district of northern Iceland.  Although there were several tours at the Falls simultaneously, it didn’t seem that crowded, which made for better picture taking.

These Falls are the site where Christianity began in Iceland in the year 1000.  The falls were as advertised, awesome.  The water falls a distance of 40 feet and the falls are about 100 feet wide.

20140712_ Godafoss Falls 2 (Small) 20140712_ Godafoss Falls ET (Small)

20140712_Godafoss Falls and us (Small)

20140712_ Godafoss Falls 1 (Small) 

Above:  Several view of Godafoss Falls 

Iceland is one of the regions of the world where you can find Tuyas or Tabletop Volcanoes/Mountains.  These volcanoes are formed when an eruption occurs beneath a glacier.  The unique shape of the mountain is a result of the rapid cooling of the lava as it emerges.

20140712_table top mtns (Small)

Tabletop Mountains

The tabletop mountain below, which looks like a cinder cone, is actually, according to our guide, a tabletop mountain eroded by wind and weather.  I was skeptical because the mountain was perfectly symmetrical.

20140712_cone shaped table top mtn (Small)

As we travelled on, we passed a geothermal power plant (there are several in Iceland, which derives its electricity and hot water from these plants).  Associated with the power plant were several ponds all displaying the milky blue appearance (like the famous “Blue Lagoon” Spa).  The blue color is apparently caused by suspended silicates and sulfur (good for the skin and very eerie looking).

 20140712_ hydrothermal plant Namaskard (Small)

Geothermal Plant and Collection Pool

Our next stop were the Namaskard, where the alien looking landscape is dotted with sulfurous mud springs called solfataras and steam springs called fumaroles.  The water in the pools is also a vivid blue color but not milky in appearance.

20140712_ Namaskard steam pools (Small) 20140712_Namaskard and us (Small)20140712_ET at Namaskard (Small) 20140712_Steam vent Namaskard (Small)

A Fumarole

20140712_ Namaskard bubbling mud (Small)

A Bubbling Mud Pit

The air was thick with sulfur dioxide fumes; one visitor put his head into the exhaust of a fumarole – I could tell he regretted it when he emerged from the foul steam.  His lungs were not overjoyed either.

Because of the nature of the volcanic emissions, the soil has become highly acidic and inhospitable to most plants (there are no trees in Namaskard).  At the end of the sulfur field, I did notice some flowers attempting to grow in the volcanic soil.

20140712_flowers at Mamaskard sulfur pits (Small)

A Flowering Plant Adapts

A fantastic stop – like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

The tour then continued to the equally eerie lava deposits of Dimmuborgir.  This stop has a café and some shops – and some still being planned.  There is no WiFi to be found here. 

The main attraction is the lava field – filled with the oddest shaped lava formations.  You have to walk down a very steep hill to see all of the lava field but I opted to go down about half way – the formations were pretty similar. 

20140712_ Dimmuborgir lava 3 (Small) 20140712_ Dimmuborgir lava 1 (Small)

Lava Formations of Dimmuborgir

All the sites we have seen on this excursion are located in the Myvatn Region of Northern Iceland.  This region is dominated by a vast lake, Myvatn.  If was difficult to get a good shot of the lake from the bus but when we stopped, I got the one below.

20140712_Lake Myva and eroded table mtn (Small)

Lake Myvatn

The bus stopped at a area containing several “pseudocraters”.  Pseudocraters are not actual craters that spew magma; they are formed when magma flows across a water surface.  The hot magma causes steam explosions which toss volcanic materials into the air.  These land around the explosion center forming a hill with the appearance of a crater.  Pseudocraters have been found on Mars.

20140712_inside pseudo crater (Small)

Pseudocrater Interior

20140712_ET and pseudo craters (Small)

The weather has really been favorable today but I can see that rain is in the area – check out the shower below.

20140712_raining but not on us (Small) 

From the Lake Myvatn area and pseudocraters, the bus departed for the pier.  As we got closer, I got another picture of the Ocean Princess docked at Akureyri,

20140712_Ocean Princess almost home (Small)  

I ran into Ellen at the pier gift shop – someone had taken her picture with some critters who came to Iceland on a ice floe from Greenland.

20140712_ET and visitors to Iceland (Small)

People returning from the excursions decided to do a little shopping before boarding.  The Captain had to blow the horn to get everyone out of the souvenir shop and onto the ship.  Second to last people on the ship – we did have to make sure that everyone was out of the shop and on the ship.  Cutting it close for the second time.

We watched the scenic sail away from Akureyri.

20140712_ Akureyri sailaway 1 (Small)

Sail Away – Akureyri

As the ship makes its way to our next port, it will pass Latitude. 66 degrees/33 min, which is the Arctic Circle.  Above this latitude, there is the Polar Day – Midnight Sun – where the sun can be seen for a full 24 hours.

Tonight is Variety Showtime – A double feature starring Caroline Dennis and Paul Baker.  The show was entertaining with Caroline doing a bit more singing than playing.  Paul’s show was also very good.  At one point, he invited Tommy McPhee to join him on stage for  “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”.  I’m guessing that Paul was Elton John and Tommy was George Michael.

20140712_Paul Baker and Tommy McPhee (Small)

“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” – Paul Baker and Tommy McPhee.

Some reading after the show and we are back in the room.

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