Wednesday, August 5, 2009

2 days behind, 2 days ago

After visiting Jokulsarlon, I was intrigued by the glacier that we could see.... just outside the hotel room window. I wanted to get right up to it. Distances are deceptive in Iceland, and it wasn't really "just outside" the hotel room, but several hills away. So we took an access road for glacier climbers instead, and walked in instead. Not being in safety gear, we didn't attempt to climb on the glacier itself. Took pictures, didn't like them.

Did find this on the road for Darrell....

Snorri visits
with us. Click on the link, it explains better than I can at the moment. I think I'm coming down with a cold.

I blame Neil. It's all these darned waterfalls that he's dragging me to see. ;) Or the museums, I just can't decide. He got his waterfalls mixed up. I really wanted to see the one that you can walk behind and he thought it was this one, was convinced that it's this one. So he says... let's go, and starts plunging toward the waterfall. The mist layer is so heavy it's starting to soak us and I'm yelling 'no way, can't be this one" and finally he stops. He's gotten far enough and wet enough to understand the error of his ways, but he just had to wait for me to catch up with him to turn around.

This is Skogafoss, by the by...

Yet another 18th-ish century museum. Really well done, but just jammed packed full of mostly uninteresting stuff. Except for this thing.... apparently 17th century, and it's the remains of an upright for the warp-weighted loom, which was in use in Iceland well into the 18th century.

Now this one, this is the waterfall that you can walk behind. It's really really cool, and somewhat terrifying inside the cavern because the sound of the water falling echoes and vibrates and you think you're in the middle of an airplane taking off but it's all around you.

This is the Saga Centre in Hvolsvolur. It is focused on telling the story of Njala's saga. It's really well done in one aspect only - lots of large boards with pretty picture to tell the tale. But oh my.... where do I even begin on the 3 dimensional stuff they are using to flesh out the story?

The blade on the spear is wrong, the shield is the wrong shape, the helm is wrong, the broaches are wrong and the shape of the cloak is wrong! That's just one of maybe a dozen such characters, all filled with looming inaccuracies.

And then that day was over.... it was a long long drive to what is billed as Iceland's only 4 star hotel and restaurant. I might agree that the restaurant deserves 4 stars, but sadly, not the hotel. In fact, I think it's earned the dishonour of the hardest beds in the entire country. And the outdoor hot tubs weren't... hot. At all. *sigh*

Now... off again the next morning to.... the Hekla Volcano Centre. Wonderful presentation. A little light on the facts, if you want more of that science stuff about volcanoes, but really really well presented.

The Centre uses several modern techniques like a tilted floor and ambient noise to disorient and disquiet it's patrons, to emphasize the destructive power of volcanoes, and Hekla's history in particular. A very large eruption in the mid 1300s earned it the nickname of the gateway to Hell, because it's ash layer made it as far as Scotland and England, and destroyed farmland for miles and miles around.

These ash layers are part of Iceland's archaeological dating, because eruptions were recorded in some fashion as far back as 1104.

This is Hekla today - note that people are moving back into the area. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable living so close.

Hekla is calm today. Well, on the day I took this picture of the seismometer, anyway. :) It's very reassuring.

One last stop for the moment is Stong. It's a recreated Settlement Period (ie. Viking Age) longhouse, that got buried by ash during Hekla's eruption in 1104. Archaeologists have uncovered the site and a recreation was built in 1974 as part of celebration of the 1100 years of Iceland's settlement.

It's been very well built, but Neil and I both agreed that it really needs re-enactors to bring it to life.

Snorri approves.

This warp weighted loom is on temporary loan to the Stong site. It is beautifully set up, and has obviously had a very competent weaver behind it at some point.

Now, I have to apologize. I'm still two days behind in blogging! The last two days have been so full that I haven't had time to finish up this post about the previous two days so... you'll just have to bear with me a bit more. We met up with the lovely Michelle Smith, and explored new hot pots and lots of old brown textiles. More on that, and some liquid nitrogen, to come.....


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