Monday, August 6, 2018

Route of the Vikings - Part 2

Route of the Vikings Part 2

August 5, 2018

After another noisy holiday weekend night in the hotel room we had an early breakfast and headed out at 0800 on our second Super Jeep tour, which included a visit to the ice cave on the Langjokull glacier.  On the way to the ice cave we visited a number of scenic areas with old whaling stations, and the fjord where the Murmansk convoys were formed during WW2.

Two of the more interesting stops were a thermal spring providing hot water for several towns up to 75 KM away, with the hot water bubbling up at the rate of 180 liters/sec and the site of “Snorri’s” home and pool dating back to the 1200’s.  Snorri was a both an influential person in the Icelandic Parliament at that time, but was also a historian who recorded the oral stories of the Icelandic people and a poet.  He was killed by the King of Norway after refusing to hand over control of Iceland to the Norwegians in 1241.  All that is now left are some foundations and the pool.

Snorri’s Pool

Statue of Snorri by Vigelands

Hruanfoss Waterfall coming out between two layers of lava

After lunch near the ice cave staging area we headed out on a gravel road through the lava fields and then on to the terminal moraine of the glacier.  Lowering the air pressure on the Super Jeep tires we headed up the glacier.  The surface was mushy from the sunshine and warm temperatures and we thought we might get stuck.  Our driver finally got out and lowered the air pressure even further and we proceeded up the glacier on a marked safe route which avoided the crevasses.  Arriving at the entrance we waited for the guides to arrive on the converted missile launcher filled with people on group tours.  We were in the first group into the darkened tunnel, going about 100 meters inside to a staging area where we put crampons on our waterproof overshoes before heading even deeper into the ice.  Light was provided by LED’s buried in the ice walls, giving a blue glow.  The cave then branched into a loop about 500 meters in length, with a number of rooms, a chapel, crevasses, pools and a constant rain of water making it’s way through the ice.  At the deepest part we were 45 meters below the surface.

Ice Tunnel Entrance

Exiting the tunnel we headed back down off the glacier and took a different route through lava fields back to Reykjavik, passing a number of volcano craters and geothermal plants.

Our guide recommended a restaurant, the 3 Frenchmen, which served traditional Icelandic dishes.  We tried smoked Puffin Breast as one of the starters, with halibut as the main course, followed by a Skyr Crème Brulee.

August 6 – Embarkation Day

Arising early for a 0715 departure for a tour to the Puffin Island in the harbor, we met our driver and found the tour was only about 4 blocks and 10 minutes walking from the hotel.  It was sunny, but also windy so the round bottom wood boat boat rolled heavily on the way to the island.  Nonetheless, we did see puffins and got a few pictures before returning to the hotel.


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