Friday, 27 July 2012

Itinerary - Part 4 and Final Part

The Wonder of Iceland
Before explaining what we did after our visit to Myvatn, I have to explain the wonder of Iceland.  I found an image on a Tulane University website (a picture worth a thousand words).  The island is made of 2 continental tectonic plates (North American and Eurasian) going diagonally from the penninsula at the bottom left of the island (where Reykjavik is) to the top right northeastern corner.  This is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and all along it are examples of volcanic activity (fissures, craters, volcanoes, hot springs, etc).  There's a place where you can go scuba diving in between the 2 plates, the water apparently so clear.  The land is alive and constantly moving.

The following photos were taken near Lake Myvatn (which is right on the rift).  And similar formations are found in Thingvellir nearer to Reykjavik (see photos further down the blog below).
Northern Iceland 

From the Lake Myvatn area, we drove northward toward Husavik.

And guess what we saw along the way...more majestic waterfalls!!




We drove around more fjords; saw plenty of birds.

We were very very close to the edge of the Arctic.  At the end of this peninsula is 66 degrees North, it just kisses the Arctic Circle.  The view is from Tjörnes Peninsula looking east across the Oxarfjordur Fjord.

In wintertime this area is THE place to see the Northern Lights, but on the shortest day there is almost total darkness. 

Upon our arrival in Husavik, we got the most heartfelt welcome yet from our Hotel!!  The Husavik Cape Hotel were flying a Canadian flag.  There were 4 flagposts sporting each  a French, Spanish, Norwegian and Canadian flag in our honour. It's a new hotel in a renovated building.
Husavik is a harbour town.  The thing to do in Husavik is go whale watching, so we did and of course we saw my favorite gentle giants, the humpback whale, three in all!  Our boat Bjossi Sur - North Sailing.

I didn't pull out the video camera until the very end so this video only shows the same whale in 2 different places diving down without showing its tail or flukes like the other whales we saw.  He was also further out.  The water was wavy so the boat moved around quite a bit, I only went to our backpack to get the camera when I felt more comfortable on my feet!

Driving from Husavik, we saw yet another waterfall, Godafoss.  
We stopped in Akureyri which is the capital of Northern Iceland and the next biggest city after Reykjavik.

We stayed in a summerhouse with a hot spring tub in the middle of the handful of summerhouses in a town called Varmahlid called Hestasport. 

We were nestled in a valley with snowy mountains in the background.  Very peaceful.  The next morning we left early because we knew we would have a long day's drive.

One of the last legs of our trip, and what I thought would be the most adventurous and the reason we rented a 4x4 in the first place, was our drive down the F35.  The F35 is a long (more than 200km), gravel road between two huge glaciers (Langjokull and Hofsjokull) only open during summer and only accessible by 4x4.  This interior area is known as the highlands.  I found that our trek down the Road to Thorsmork (Journey versus Destination post) was more adventurous but alas much shorter.

Signpost showing length of F35                                           
Langjokull (Long Glacier)
A river crossing on F35                                                           Snow still melting on F35
We stopped twice along F35, once in Hveravellir to have a bite and a dip (you have to take all your garbage with you).   

Next at lake Hvitarvatn a beautifal glacial lake at the foot of a tongue of the Langjokull glacier with its turquoise colour and all.  Breathtaking!

After a full day of bouncing on gravel road (like getting a non-stop massage) and breathing dust and dirt, we finally hit pavement.  This is what the 4x4 looked like!!

We stopped at Gulfoss (Golden Falls) which is a multi-tiered waterfall and probably the most-visited waterfalls in Iceland.  They are very powerful.

Then we stopped at Geysir which is another geothermally active area but with at least one geyser which blows regularly.

Our last accommodations were once again a summerhouse in Uthlid. After roaming around the area, we finally found the area where our cottage was, but due to unclear signage, spent about 15-20 minutes roaming around trying to find the reception desk which was actually a restaurant/banquet hall, where we had breakfast the next morning.  We spoke to one of the owners to suggest they improve their signage from the main road.

On our last day in Iceland, before heading out to Keflavik airport, we stopped at Thingvellir which is along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the place where you can scuba dive in the ridge (see first figure above).  Here are some photos of that area that has fissures, cliffs, canyons.


People can scuba dive in this area
The North American side of the rift
This concludes our Icelandic Itinerary.  Hope you enjoyed our photos and videos.  While I may post other tidbits about Iceland in the future, this pretty much sums up our trip!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Quebec City with my buddies

Lia in the Lavender

Lavender fields at La Seigneurie de l'Ïle d'Orléans

Microbrasserie on Ïle d'Orléans - behind the Pub Le Mitan

A little dip in the Hotel Arcadia hot tub on the rooftop

Mary and Lia at Château Frontenac

Lia Mina and Mary in Le Quartier du Petit Champlain

Quartier du Petit Champlain - my favorite place in Québec

Mural on rue Petit-Champlain

Lia is posing in front of La Fresque des Québécois

Mina is posing in front of the Fresque - near Place Royale

Supper at La Pizz - Basse Ville de Québec

Le Château at night from the Basse Ville

Mina and Lia near la Porte St-Louis

Lia on the steps of the Assemblée Nationale

Lia buying prints from an artist on rue des Trésors
We are having a wonderful time in Quebec City. On our way to Canyon Ste-Anne.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Itinerary - Part 3

The East Fjords

Fjords are long, narrow, deep inlets like tongues reaching into the land, with steep slopes on either side of the inlet and jutting out to the sea at the tip.

You have to drive to the tip of the land that juts out into the water then drive all the way in to the end of the fjord only to drive all the way back out to the end of the next "finger-like" land mass.  Iceland has recently built tunnels significantly reducing travel time from villages nestled inside the fjords.

In winter there are avalanches  on the steep slopes and it's not hard to see why.  Even in the summer there are falling rocks.  The rocks have an earthy rust coloring to them.

As tourists, we took the long way admiring the scenery with plunging coasts and fog rolling into the fjords but staying on the water, not hampering our drive in any way.

The fog is in the background in this photo.

We came across a mountain that looked like a pyramid, but it's purely natural.  Needless to say settlers here thought it to have special energy and powers.

On this leg of the trip as well as the next is where we saw so many waterfalls, tall and thin, trickling and cascading down the slopes, that we stopped taking photos and filming them and simply gazed at the plethora and glory.

Iceland has to be the place where they have the most waterfalls per square foot or meter in all the world.  I know in Canada we have our fair share of beautiful waterfalls, but not at every turn like in Iceland.


Our next destination was Hallormsstadur, a forested area (yes I said forested area...very rare in Iceland) on the shore of a long lake.  It was the first time it actually felt a bit like home, as if we were in the Laurentians or Eastern Townships.  Our hotel was very nice, modern, large enough and we had a nice view of the lake.

Hotel Hallormsstadir - photo from website
 We were offered the usual buffet special for supper but ended up ordering a large carte, much as I love lamb, the Icelandic supper buffets are pretty much all the same.  So Nick had a pizza and I had seafood pasta.  The breakfast buffet was also the same as everywhere we stayed, except this hotel offered scrambled eggs which we hadn't had since Reykjavik.  Unfortunately the scrambled eggs were prepared ahead and frozen, so when they were brought out into the warmer, they were still ice cold!

We could have hiked the next morning as there were plenty of nice trails leading to yet more waterfalls but we wanted to hit the road to maximize the scenery to our next destination, Lake Myvatn.  We did drive down to the southern part of Lake Logrinn where there was a bridge to crops over to the other side which comparatively speaking was again barren of trees, very weird.  We drove up the western side of Lake Logurinn through the village of Egilsstadir to continue along Route 1 which no longer followed the coast. This was by far the most isolated part of Iceland along the Ring Road (the inland highlands Road F35 being the most isolated which was going to be one of our last legs).

On our way to Lake Myvatn, we passed by Hrossaborg crater which is where Tom Cruise was filming part of his next movie, Oblivion.

We came across what has to be quintessential Iceland, Namaskard Pass also known as The Gateway to Hell!  Just look at the video and photos to see why.


Distinct sulfur smell - eew

Lake Myvatn

We stayed at Lake Myvatn 2 nights in a summer house on the lake.  There were so many things to see in and around the lake.  Many many craters appear like pockmarks all over this highly geothermally active area located on the rift between the separating North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.

Viti explosion crater at Mount Krafla
A massive crater formed by an eruption in 1724 which lasted more or less 5 years and continued bubbling for a century afterwards.

Hverafell Crater and next to me a fissure                                         a crater in Lake Myvatn

This video was filmed at 9:30 pm.  The baths close at midnight and it is still bright.

 We spent our evenings at Lake Myvatn in the Jarobodin Nature Baths where the hills around the baths are literally steaming.  Also the midnight sun was more evident as we were further north as these photos were taken just before midnight as we left the baths.