A while ago, we had a discussion about Iceland and how cool a place it is to visit. I’m curious how many people want to visit this awesome country? I got the opportunity to spend a day there as part of a trans-atlantic cruise a few years ago and thought I’d pull out my pictures (thank goodness we had a digital camera by then) and show you the bits of Iceland we got to see.
First off, the cruise was a re-positioning cruise, so it was a once a year opportunity. It was moving from European cruises to the Caribbean. We flew to Copenhagen and boarded, then visited England and Ireland before heading west.
Iceland is the land of fire and ice. Where dark winters are offset by summers with sunshine at midnight and geothermal activity doesn’t keep it from being home to the largest glaciers in Europe (even though ice only covers about 10% of the land). In fact, Iceland is known as the world’s greenest country. It’s diverse countryside shows off green valleys, active volcanoes, black sand beaches, and amazing rivers. Their water is some of the purest around and they are huge environmentalists and conservationists, since they depend so much on natural resources. Over 90% of their heat is geothermal, which helps make them one of the least polluted countries in the world. The flip side to that is that there is quite a bit of volcanic activity.
Iceland sits astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a 40km crack in the ocean floor caused by the separation between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. They call this part of Iceland “No Man’s Land” and we got to stand here, between these plates. We’re standing near one plate wall and looking out over the expanse of No Man’s Land in this picture. You can see the ridge (the small rocky fence-like wall just past the river) in the distance that is the Eurasian plate.
As these plates rub together, they release pressure in the form of earthquakes and geothermal activity.
During a one-day, eight-hour tour, we visited an “Old Faithful” type geyser, a crater formed by an explosive eruption, No Man’s Land, Gulfoss Waterfalls, and the capital city of Reykjavik. So we got a good glimpse into this country, but someday, I’d like to see more. To spend more time exploring the rugged countryside and getting to know the people. It’s an expensive place to visit, but well worth it in our estimation. It is still one of my two favorite cruises. (The Panama Canal is the other favorite.) I hope that if Iceland is on your bucket list, you get there someday. It’s worth it.
Of course, the fact that we also got to set foot in Greenland helped make that cruise ultra-special, too. Lots of times, they can’t get close enough due to icebergs. So here’s a couple Greenland pics to finish up with. A very colorful community in a very harsh environment: