ÍS: The Town of Stykkishólmur

iceland2Stykkishólmur is an adorable little town on the northeastern coast of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, situated on a bit of rocky land sticking out into Breiðafjörður, one of the most ecologically diverse bodies of water around Iceland.  With 1,100 inhabitants, it is the commercial center of this part of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. It was settled in the 16th century as a trading post, and today most of the residents make their living off of fishing and tourism. icleand4Stykkishólmur is named after a small island by the harbor called Stykkið (“the piece”- seen in the first in this post). A short walk to the top of Stykkið is rewarded by  a beautiful view of the colorful little town and the thousands of islands in Breiðafjörður. You may be familiar with Stykkishólmur if you saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, since the title character ends up in this town at one point. iceland3

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[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here for more pictures from my May 2015 trip around Iceland’s Ring Road. Click here for more pictures of Stykkishólmur.]

ÍS: Icebergs on the Beach

Iceland36 Jökulsárlón, the Glacial Lagoon on the south coast of Iceland, connects the glaciers to the ocean through a small channel flowing out from the lagoon. Icebergs float out of the lagoon and then wash back up on the black sand beach. Standing among the huge chunks of ice, you can often see seals bobbing in the breakers. The first time I visited this beach was at sunrise (during a hiking trip with a few friends in Skaftafell). It was surreal, and so I wrote a little poem about the experience.

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iceland39[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here for more pictures from my late May 2015 Ring Road Trip.]

ÍS: Icelandic Horses by Mývatn

celandic Horses by MývatnIt’s hard to resist pulling over next to every enclosure to say hi to the friendly Icelandic horses who dot the landscape on either side of the Ring Road. We met these horses just off the road along the north edge of Mývatn, the large lake in Northern Iceland. Icelandic horses are remarkably adapted to the landscape. They have no problem grazing and playing on the rocky lava fields. The image of the horse below standing on a mound with the ice-capped mountain behind him was just as powerful in real life as it is in the photo.Icelandic Horses by Mývatn

celandic Horses by Mývatn

[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here for more pictures of northern Iceland.Click here for more pictures from my late May 2015 Ring Road Trip.]

ÍS: The Approaching Storm

Southwest Iceland I’m an amateur photographer. I like to take pictures more than I care about how well they turn out. Usually I tweak and trim my film photography on Photoshop since I don’t have the space to develop them myself. And then there are those rare moments where the lighting is just right and I get my camera settings just right and voila, these two amazing pictures delivered from the developer as is.

These are from my road trip with a friend around the whole Ring Road back in late May. I’m pretty this is in Southwest Iceland, somewhere between Reykjavík and the Snæfellsnes peninsula (since I have been tardy in posting these what with two moves and working again, I’m not going to be able to be as specific about locations as I was for my last set of Ring Road pictures.

Southwest Iceland [35mm film taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here for more pictures of Southwest Iceland.]

Ásbyrgi- the Horseshoe Canyon

F1000020asbyrgiAbout 50 miles east of Húsavík in northern Iceland is a magnificent horseshoe-shaped canyon filled with small willow and birch trees. It is located inside the enourmous Vatnajökull National Park. When we were there in late June, the forest floor was covered with purple and yellow flowers. It’s no wonder legend considers this the capital of the “hidden folk” (huldufólk). An even older legend says that the unique shape of the canyon was created when the Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse of the the Norse god Odin, set one of his hooves down onto the ground on his way somewhere important. F1000023asbyrgiYou can get to the canyon on paved road by going all the way up to Húsavík and around the peninsula on 85. However, if you have an SUV and are feeling adventurous (check and check for us), you can take the beautiful and bumpy gravel road that continues beyond Dettifoss. I don’t think it took much longer than an hour.
F1000022asbyrgiWe just wandered about the serene canyon, enjoying the trees (not a lot of those in Iceland) nestled in between canyon walls reaching as high as 100 meters (328 feet). However, if you’re feeling up to it, you can hike up the rock in the middle of the horseshoe, Eyjan (the island). I’m guessing the view from there would be spectacular. Speaking of which, shooting only from inside the canyon, I didn’t get any shots that really show you how incredible it is as a whole, so click here to see “the view.”F1000007asbyrgi [35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click this link to see more pictures from this trip up to northern Iceland. ]

ÍS: Krafla and the Mouth of Hell

F1000017kraflaKrafla is a caldera in the north of Iceland, near the lake Mývatn . Calderas are cauldrons formed when the ground collapses after a volcanic eruption. There have been 29 eruptions in the Krafla caldera, which has a diameter of 10km (6 miles) and a fissure line of 90km (55 miles). One of the most impressive features of this desolate landscape is a crater named Víti (pictured above; translates literally as “hell”). It contains a lake of vivid green (almost teal) water. The view from the edge of Víti is amazing. You can look out over the caldera, where plumes of steam billow up from natural geothermal openings and the nearby geothermal power station.F1000018kraflaF1000019kraflaI can’t really say much about the power station at Krafla, other than that it creates a really remarkable amount of energy. Unfortunately, you can’t tour the place (I was traveling with a friend studying geothermal energy, which is why we stopped there in the first place). However, if you are interested in learning more about what they are doing, they have a nice, little visitor information room with pretty interesting brochures and what not. Within the last few years, a drilling project on the site found magma only 2.1 km from the surface! There’s a lot going on above and below the surface of Krafla. It’s right off the Ring Road, and definitely worth a visit. There’s a huge sign on the Ring Road telling you where to turn off, so its hard to miss.
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F1000016krafla [35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click this link to see more pictures from this trip up to northern Iceland. ]

ÍS: Goðafoss- Waterfall of the Gods

F1000011goda According to the sagas (in other words, as legend has it…), Icelandic chieftains made the decision to peacefully convert to Christianity in the year 1000 ad. They saw the problems that were already arising from having two different religions in the small country. So, they asked the Lawspeaker (the most influential man in the country- called a lawspeaker because would recite the law every year at the parliment) to decide which religion would be best for Iceland. Lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði laid down in his tent for 24 hours thinking. When he emerged, he declared everyone would be Christian (although pagans could still practice privately). On his way home from the Alþingi, the Icelandic yearly parliament of chieftains, Þorgeir threw his statues of Norse gods into this powerful waterfall as a sign of his commitment to the new Christian God. That, the sagas claim, is why this place is called Goðafoss (Waterfall of the Gods).F1000009godaGoðafoss was one of the sights I didn’t catch on my trip around the Ring Road in June, even though I’ve been dying to see it since I got here. So I was rather excited when we decided to make the short drive from our cabin in Dalvík at the end of June. The waterfall is a stunning semicircle that can be approached from either side. It definitely lived up to my expectations, and if you are traveling around Iceland it’s a must see! F1000014goda

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F1000010goda[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click this link to see more pictures from this trip up to northern Iceland. ]

ÍS: Jökulsárlón/ Glacial Lagoon

F1000013glacier The Icelander who gave us a ride to Skaftafell in the evening offered to stop as we were passing Jökulsárlón, which is one of the most spectacular sights on the south coast. It’s a large glacial lake, filled with icebergs broken off from the edge of the glacier. You can often see seals swimming about in the lake, and I’ve heard that every once and a while a Killer Whale swims in from the ocean to hunt the seals. The icebergs often end up washing out to the ocean, on the other side of the Ring Road, and it is surreal to see them washed up on the black sand beach, being gently pushed back and forth by the cold Atlantic waves.

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F1000012glacier [35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here for more pictures from my June Ring Road trip around Iceland]

ÍS: Skaftafell & Svartifoss

Skaftafell, Iceland, svartifossJune 18th was a slow day for rides. We got stuck for extended periods of time at least twice. But as always, there were some kind people who picked us up. Including a French couple who had to wake us up when we got to the spot we were headed (over a week of traveling and camping, Alt-J cd playing, and an empty stretch of road was a fatal combination), and a tour bus driver who gave us a lift on his empty bus out of Höfn to a better hitchhiking spot. (Funny enough….I saw that French couple two more times over the next week: on our last day of traveling when we were trying to get a ride out of Selfoss and walking around the University once I was back. It’s a small island.)Skaftafell, Iceland, svartifossIt was late by the time we arrived at Skaftafell. The campground there, right on the edge of the Vatnjökull, is beautiful. While we were setting up out tents, we stuck up a conversation with an English traveler from the same part of London as my traveling companion. Our little conversation eventually merged with the two Icelanders camping with their Canadian friend next to us. They generously shared their wine, scotch, and a huge leg of lamb they had leftover from dinner. We all stayed up till 4, laughing and drinking as the sky dimmed, turned pink, and then, skipping any pretense of night, began to lighten again.F1000020skaft

Skaftafell, IcelandSkaftafell, IcelandAfter sleeping in the next morning, we went for a walk up to Svartifoss, once of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. Unfortunately, we couldn’t spend more time in Skaftafell. It’s a great place to camp and hike. There were a lot of people there in June, but when I went for the weekend with friends back in the end of October 2013, we pretty much had the place to ourselves.Skaftafell, Iceland

Skaftafell, Iceland

Skaftafell, Iceland  [35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here for more pictures from my June Ring Road trip around Iceland]

Höfn, Iceland

F1000007hofn We were dropped off in the quiet town of Höfn and took a walk along the water before catching a ride with a sweet tour bus driver who offered to take us out of town on his empty bus. The light on the water and mountains was spectacular. F1000008hofn

F1000009hofn  [35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here for more pictures from my June Ring Road trip around Iceland]