Monday, 18 September 2017

Namaskard ...#6 Cruise Diary

Cruising Greenland, Iceland and Norway #6

Continuing my 'Jewels of the North' tour on Iceland. 

28th August 2017

Namaskard, Iceland
The last stop of the 'Jewels of the North' tour was at Namaskard  - an other worldly steamy scene in a landscape that makes the word barren somehow wrong. Barren for me in Scotland means very little vegetation covering the landscape and what exists clings low on the soil, whether sloping or flat.

Over the area approaching Namaskard the limited vegetation petered to none and what we drove into was an area of bare, grit covered rocks. Reddish, light brownish, greyish - it was a sort of sludgy sandy rock covering slight rises but the upland was nothing at all like Dimmuborgir, and nothing at all like the pseudo craters at Lake Myvatn either.

Namaskard, Iceland

The land beneath my feet was literally bubbling, steam rising from cracks on the surface with little rivulets a bit like you sometimes see on a sandy Scottish beach after the tide has receded. There the similarity ends because there was going to be no paddling in this water since it was literally boiling hot water and the drifting vapours around the area were pure, smelly steam. 

There was a slight drizzle dampening me from above which may have contributed to the natural heat of the area being less than it would have been on a sunny or clear day but any bubbling water around Namaskard wouldn't entice anyone to have a dip here. 


Namaskard, Iceland

Mud pots, steam vents, sulphur deposits, boiling springs (solfataras and fumaroles if you are geologically minded) are part of the description for this tourist stop.

Going to Iceland really shouldn’t be done without seeing some of these fabulous geological wonders. But make sure you're wearing decent boots or shoes because the warm sludgy grit clings like mad in the same way that concrete and mortar mixes do on a building site. 

Again, the area covered by this tourist stop is small and is constrained by where it is safe to tread. Very basic low rope barriers indicate the best pathways around the mud pots. These indicated routes are changed daily, according to the tour guide, and probably even within the day, to ensure the safety of the wandering sightseers.

The colours and smells at Namaskard are so different to those at Dimmuborgir.

Yes- the sulphur smell is definitely potent like a hundred stink bombs have simultaneously gone off and the muddy colours are like another world.

The stop at Namaskard was fairly short, thankfully because it wouldn't have been too healthy to breathe in the delightful sulphurous air for too long!

I’ve seen lava flows and bubbling lava ‘pots’ on Mount Etna, Scicily but they were on what was essentially a green clad mountain. The area around Namaskard is a barren, low rise rocky surface with a totally different vista.

Our ‘Jewels of the North’ tour was quite a long one but very well worth it!

Check in soon for #7 Cruise Diary- Norway -first stop Alesund which was immensely different from Namaskard but that's what travel is all about. It's about appreciating the huge differences that exist across our planet. 


Sunday, 17 September 2017

Lake Myvatn and Dimmuborgir ...#5 Cruise Diary

Cruising Greenland, Iceland and Norway #5

Continuing my Treasures of the North tour…

August 28th 2017

Lake Myvatn, Iceland
After the delights of the Godafoss Waterfall we drove on to Lake Myvatn. The volcanic mounds which rise up from the lake bed are very impressive and would be even more so on a fine day. Sadly for us, the bird life that’s said to be plentiful and colourful all seemed to be hunkered down and in hiding. The rain continued to drizzle and the cloud level being very low meant that vision across the lake was severely restricted. Thousand of years ago at Lake Myvatn, during the formation of Iceland, bogs were heated to extreme temperatures which turned the water to steam. The resultant explosions from the expansion pushed up volcanic ash and created pseudo volcanic craters.
Lake Myvatn, Iceland

I’d love to explore them on a much better day sometime in the future and the rest of lake Myvatn. (Some of the cruise guests went to the Myvatn natural baths for a geo-thermal dip. Although they experienced it in the rain it didn’t seem to diminish their enjoyment. One interesting comment was that though there are separate showers for men and women at the lake those showers are communal and have to be taken before donning a bathing suit.)

After a brief lunch stop we moved on to what was a fabulous little place.
Dimmuborgir, Iceland
Dimmuborgir – the Dark Fortress/Dark Castles/ Dark forts – is a small but impressive site and almost totally unique in the world (only one similar that under water off the coast of Mexico). Thought to be the remains of a lava reservoir which cooled and formed above a lake all that’s left now are the spectacularly bizarre structures I visited. A lava field of giant pillars, chimneys and twisted towers are there for scrambling around and across. These incredible formations are one of Iceland's most popular tourist destinations. 

Icelandic folklore tells that Dimmuborgir was the home of a homicidal female troll named Gryla. She shared the area with her third husband Leppaludi and their mischievous sons, neatly named the Yule Lads. 

Can you see her in this photo, here at left? 

The Icelanders used the threat of the Yule Lads and Gryla to keep their naughty children under control. If the kids didn’t behave then rotten potatoes would be left in their shoes instead of nice gifts. There has been a merging of the ancient Norse aspects of gift giving with Christian Santa Claus traditions.  

‘Game of Thrones’ viewers might recognise some of the area as it was used for filming some of the scenes.

The tourist board have made access easy in the quarter mile of pathways and it was so brilliant to appreciate the home of the trolls!
Dimmuborgir, Iceland

One step onto the pathway I felt the atmosphere of the tourists change. There wasn’t a collective sigh but there was a hush as everyone turned the first corner some ten steps along. I personally named him ‘Big Daddy’ but having learned the myth I should maybe have been calling her ‘Big Mama’. I’d not dare to be rude to any Icelander and name the rock such to their face, and certainly not to my tour guide, but I really could see a dramatic troll face in the volcanic rock.

She/he was the first of many as I wandered the quarter mile of twists and turns. The whole area only measures about one kilometre in diameter but it does include some very nifty little caves. One in particular, a fairly large step-inside one was a main feature for tourists. A tiny scramble up some very conveniently laid stone steps gives a humorous inkling into the life of a Dimmuborgir troll.

Those Yule Lads must be sweeping from dawn till dusk to keep this place dust free! 

I loved this stop and paid due attention to giving my thanks to ‘Big Mama/Daddy’ as I left the area. 



Just Haven't Met You yet by Cate woods

Happy Sunday wishes to you!

It's dreich and miserable, the rain pouring down at times but a good day for getting on with mmore writing and later some more reading.

Here's my thoughts on a chick-lit/ women't fiction book just finished. I think I bought this via 'Book Hippo' but if not via them it was from another of the many sites which I've signed up to for book recommendations. If readers are not buying my books in droves when sent recommendations I'm certainly using their services to fill my kindle. Having read  'Just Haven't Met You Yet' I might well be tempted to read more by Cat Woods if I'm in need of something simple and an easy read- and being romance I'd know what kind of ending I'd be expecting.

If you're into reading chick-lit type novels, or just want an entertaining light hearted novel to curl up with this might be suitable.

The trials and tribulations of falling in love! There are a few twists in this fun read that made me wonder exactly what might be going on and how Percy’s story would turn out. There were just enough clues to work out who she would end up with but there were still a little surprise right at the end. Well written with very likeable characters, the plot rolls on at a steady ‘must read what’s on the next page’ pace.  Very entertaining. 

This was a 5* read for me.