Images by Phil... and June
A Day In Iceland
by June's Views on August 11th, 2013

We arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland late in the afternoon.   I walked around the city to see a few sights.  Since the daylight hours are very long in July, the only concern I had about getting good pictures was the clouds that were coming in. 

I loved Laugavegur Street with its European personality.   Loved the small shops and people watching. 

On many of the residential streets the beautiful flowers and homes were very striking. 

To me, one of the most impressive buildings was the huge Hallgrimskirkja Lutheran Church. 

The building was completed in 1986 and its unusual design is impressive.  In front of the building there’s a huge statute - a gift from the United States - of the explorer Leif Eriksson.  
The Perlan (“Pearl” in English) is an 84-foot high iconic building with a revolving restaurant and great view at the top.  The Perlan was originally hot water storage tanks.  In 1991 the tanks were updated and the globe-like structure was added, resulting in this very interesting structure.  
The following day was entirely unscheduled, and I looked at several options.  I decided to be able to see as much as possible in the time I had, I’d go on a Golden Circle day trip. 

Sadly, the prediction of gloomy weather including rain, proved to be accurate, but I decided it was better to see a wet and cloudy Iceland than NO Iceland.   I endured the rain with as much humor and positive attitude as possible, but I am sorry my pictures are not as good as they would have been.   That’s my disclaimer to the photos below.
I was picked up at our hotel, the Fourth Floor, and bused to the central Gray Line station, where a larger bus was waiting for other passengers. 

I was early and got to select the seat of my choice: had a large window with nothing to obstruct my view for taking pictures. 

As soon as everyone was loaded the day guide announced we’d need to change buses as this one was having a mechanical problem.   I was bummed out, thinking my seat on the new bus would be on the isle, or would have a curtain hanging down to interfere with viewing and pictures.   But without having to run over anyone, I was able to get the exact same seat on the new bus!   My lucky day!   Except for the clouds and rain.  

We drove through a high temperature geothermal area in the scenic landscape of Lake Pingvallavatn.  

We continued on to the Pingvellir (pronounced “THING-vet-lihr”) National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site about 25 miles east of Reykjavik.   This area is not only beautiful, but is the original location of the Icelandic parliament, founded in 930 AD. 

In addition to the historical interest of the area, geologically it is a treasure:  I saw consequences of the shifting of the American and European tectonic plates:  The landscape created as these plates continue to separate is magnificent.   My hike along the scenic landscape ended at a lovely small waterfall. 

Our next stop was the Gullfoss waterfall.   I could walk near the edge of this beauty and feel its power and the mist on my face.   Thousands of gallons of water tumbled over the face of the rocks and down the fractures.  
From the bus I also saw many Icelandic horses.  Their hair looks very thick and their manes are long. 

Our guide told us the Icelandic horse is not only able to withstand the harsh climate, but is also very inquisitive and friendly. Might just stroll up to any human to check us out.     Unfortunately I didn't get an opportunity to confirm that.  

Our next visit was to see (and smell) the natural phenomenon and hot springs area of Geysir and Strokkur. 

I also heard that  Geysir was the first geyser written about and brought to the attention of modern Europeans and our English word “geyser” traces back to this erupting hot springs known as Geysir.

The last stop on our full day was a visit to a geothermal plant where I leaned a bit about how the hot water is turned into electrical power, or used to heat or provide hot water to homes in Iceland. 

I learned that over 90% of homes in Iceland are heated with geothermal energy, and producing a quarter of commercial electricity as well.

Geothermal energy helped move Iceland from one of the poorest European countries to a modern, prosperous market. 
Closing out the day.
After returning to Reykjavik, Carolyn and I walked down Laugavegur Street and stumbled onto a cute restaurant that served delicious fresh salmon:  A great meal to end a great day in Iceland!

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