A place like no other

The Eden Project

On my last full day in Iceland, I thought it might be pretty cool to go on a tour in a Super Jeep. This thing by far exceeded my expectations in terms of capacity and impressiveness

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Thanks ‘Arnie’ for the great day out!

We did the famous ‘Golden Circle tour’ in the opposite direction, to avoid all the big tour buses and packs of tourists, and honestly it worked out really well. Despite the constant downpour of rain and incessant wind, it was a superb day – this weather is something I’m quite accustomed to thanks to England … On our 8h trip, we saw these and various other places:

  • Faxi waterfalls
  • Gullfoss
  • Off-road drive to Langjökull glacier
  • Geysir
  • Strokkur geyser
  • Viking parliament
  • Thingvellir National Park
  • Walk between continents

It was definitely worth the money I paid. The offroad drive was actually so much fun! I managed to attach my GoPro to the front of the car to record our drive up the glacier (though I’m still working on the video footage to make it bearable to watch)!

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Faxi waterfalls! Pretty short stop but pretty entertaining, especially the story Arnie told us
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So, this is a sheep enclosure. They have them everywhere across the country. Every year, farmers release their sheep back into the wild for months to let them roam freely across the plains of Iceland. At the start of fall every year, they host a huge event across the country to herd the animals back to these enclosures; thousands of people join in the hunt in the wild and drink loads while doing so! After a few days, most the herding is complete and everyone goes home (usually pretty drunk and feeling rather exhausted). Then more people join in to sort out the animals according to their tags and organise them to be sent back to their respectful owners (also while drinking and celebrating). I find it amusing that so many people can go around the wild drinking vodka running around after sheep with a common purpose! It’s a shame I missed the actual event …

After a short drive and some awesome stories, we arrived at the famous waterfall Gulfoss. There are a number of photos of this place because I found it to be one of the spectacular sites we saw.

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Gulfoss waterfall

 

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A view from the waterfront.
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A slightly darker picture than others, but I find it soothing to look at
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An odd find in an odd place … This woman was posing in a wonderful silk dress by the waterfall front. She had 5 photographers constantly taking shots with different poses and angles. She must have been stood in that position for a good five minutes without even shivering … I was walking around with a wooly hat, a facemask, full winter apparatus, and I was still cold!
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This is actually a picture with my camera, with an added filter ‘painting’ of the waterfall (from above)

For the next two hours or so, we experienced the joy and excitement of being aboard the Super Jeep. Granted, the ride was bumpy and pretty uncomfortable once we closed in on the glacier, but it the discomfort was overshadowed by the fun and novelty of this kind of driving. I managed to attach my GoPro device to the front of the car as we started the drive, but could only use video time-lapse because of battery saving capacities – I only had 30% battery left and the drive was a good 25 minutes … I’ll figure out a way to slow the video down because it’s hard to see at the moment. Anyway, the video will be available in a few days I hope. In the meantime, here are the remaining pictures of my time in Iceland.

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Literally driving on solid ice. We’re on the glacier and it’s pretty impressive. Unfortunately, pictures really do not represent the grandeur of this natural phenomenon
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Standing on a slope of solid ice. The dark spots are ashes, remnants of the 2010 volcanic eruption here in Iceland.
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From here, the glacier and the clouds are nearly indistinguishable, but a feint line separates them on the horizon. Funnily enough, the mountain on the left is a common place for movie sets. The most recent one is Oblivion, where Tom Cruise was apparently sitting at the top of the mountain eating a sandwich …
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The continental split. The remnants of millions of years of tectonic activity separating the European and North American plates.
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“Don’t look back, you’re not going that way”
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“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet planted in the ground” – Theodore Roosevelt

Iceland is a special place, and holds a special place in my heart. I’ve never seen anywhere like it, nor do I think I ever will. One island holds so many variations of the world we see today. Mountains, ice, snow, fire and the unending barren landscapes of the highlands. It can be hard to explain in a small paragraph what this place means to me now, but I will give it my best shot …

When I travelled to and through the mountains, my joy of life and exploration was unmatched, nearly. The beauty of looking up and wanting to scale up the cliffs mad me feel like I had a purpose, a goal to reach somewhere up there. It was so out of reach, but always finding a way to look up, breathe the cool air and start walking up is my way of reminding myself never to give up in the face of difficulty.
Upon reaching the top, the vast expanses lay before me and all I want is to accept where I finally am, at the top – but the urge to go down and keep walking ahead is too tempting to refuse. The barren plains are pretty lifeless, but they provide a pathway for reaching the next destination. The photograph above is my way of accepting that. I may stand in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing but rocks and emptiness, yet I will always embrace it, stand strong and continue my journey.

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Goodbye Iceland.
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