Best Day In The Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland

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Best Day In The Snaefellsnes Peninsula In Iceland

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”  Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

 I was more in awe during my day in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in the west fjords of Iceland than during any other part of the country I visited.

This is saying a lot considering how much I fell in love with the glaciers, Myvatin, all hot springs and waterfalls.

It helped that it was a warm, sunny, windless day.  I still can’t say the name of it properly. 

Snæfellsnes Peninsula is often called Iceland in miniature as you can see everything the country has to offer in one area: volcanic craters, lava fields, a glacier, waterfalls, fjords, hot springs, black and golden sand beaches, lush meadows,  cute fishing villages and colorful wooden houses.

Bárður Snæfellsás was the settler of this area, half a troll and half a man,. He came to Iceland in the ninth century and gave the peninsula its name. The big stone structure of Bárður Snæfellsás at Arnarstapi was made by sculptor Ragnar Kjartansson.

Búðakirkja is a little black wooden church in the hamlet Búðir (which seems to consist of a hotel and this church) that was originally built in the 19th century.

It has an isolated location amongst the Budhahraun lava fields just above the sea. 

Snæfellsnes Peninsula is one of only a few places in Iceland where the beaches are golden. 

There are stunning views of the mountains and Snaefellsness glacier here. Many interesting stories are connected to the glacier, and it is believed to be the meeting place of extra-terrestrials.

Some people believe it to be one of the seven chakras (energy centres) in the world and you may not sleep well due to the magnetic energy.

Jules Verne wrote an interesting science fiction book called  Journey to the Center of the Earth in 1864 about a group of scientists, who ventured into the crater of Snæfellsjökull glacier. Yes parts of the 2008 movie were filmed here.  

 You can also do long walks through the lava fields.

Every bend in the road, the landscape changes.

Notice how perfectly shaped these basalt columns  are. It’s hard to imagine that nature did this. Lava flowed out, cooled and contracted. The slow speed at which the lava cooled made it crack and create these forms.

We ate lunch at a lovely ancient fishing village in Hellnar overlooking the water and amazing cliffs.

There were  dozens  of birds hanging out on the cliffs and rocks, staining the columns white  poop I imagine, although I definitely could be wrong.

After lunch we were off to yet another black beach (my favorite kind of beach).

There were huge lava formations.

We passed a few turquoise and green colored lakes.

This is a portion of beach with iron pieces from a British shipwreck in 1948 (which are kept here in memory of the brave fishermen who lost their lives).

 I finally reached those beautiful black pebbles.

It’s quite clear why it’s also known as Black Lava Pearl Beach, as the beach was entirely made up of small and smooth black pebbles (called Djúpalónsperlur or “Pearls of Djúpalón).

With huge monolithic rocks in the water and smooth pebbles beneath our feet, I could have walked here all day.

 Nestled deep inside a spectacular landscape of lava fields not far from the fishing village of Stykkishólmur, is the Shark Museum.  Stykkishólmur was featured in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty. 

It was masquerading as Greenland.

I assume many of you have not been to the Bjarnarhofn Shark Museum so I will explain it.  The room is filled with an eclectic mix of fishing tools, bones, dried shark skins, as well as taxidermy relating mostly to Arctic birdlife. 

It is randomly displayed like a garage filled with stuff.  Sharks are not specifically hunted, it so happens that some might get caught in the net when other fish are being sourced.

I ate some fermented Greenland shark which is poisonous if eaten fresh. You dip it in  Icelandic schnapps (Brennivin) and it was surprisingly delicious to me. I like the Swedish salt ammonia flavored  licorice so it might not be the same for you.

We went to see some of out tour guide  Argunnar Yi‘s paintings in a nearby hotel.

Art and black sand beaches -kind of a perfect day for me. 

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Ten Things That I Want To Do In Iceland

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Ten Things That I  Want To Do In Iceland

“Architects cannot teach nature anything.” – Mark Twain

The Blue Lagoon is probably the most famous attraction in Iceland and this is a geothermal spa which is made of heated seawater that is a striking turquoise color. The waters here had long been said to have healing properties as they contain silica and other minerals.

Explore Reykjavik (and learn how to pronounce it). There is a brightly colored old town with rows of wooden houses. The capital of Iceland has some cool art galleries, restaurants, clubs and cafes.

Located in the capital city of Reykjavik is the Hallgrimskirkja Church which  is the largest of its kind in Iceland. The church is actually modeled on the Svartifoss Waterfall in the south of the country.

Gullfoss Waterfall is perhaps the most famous waterfall in Iceland and lies on the Hvita River. The name actually means ‘Golden Falls’ as the sediment in the water glints gold in the sunlight.

Snæfellsjökull National Park sits on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and is best known for its signature glacier called Snæfellsjökull. It is this glacier that was featured in Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne.

The Tectonic Plates sit on the Þingvellir Plain which is the point between North America and Europe where the plates are shifting away from each other.This movement causes cracks and rifts in the landscape and results in rivers, lakes, and ragged gulleys. There is a path here that you can trace along the fault lines and watch this freak of nature up close.

Rauðasandur Beach has sand that is pink and red against a turquoise lagoon. Sunbathing is not really the most popular activity here as the weather in Iceland is not especially conducive to sunning yourself on the sand.

Half a mile away from the capital city Reykjavik are the islands of Akurey and Lundey which are known for their gorgeous and cuddly puffin colonies. Puffins are cute.

The Leidarendi Lava Caves are famous for their colorful lava interiors, the stalactites and rippling rock formations.

 I want to photograph everything. I hear that this small island has the most diverse and beautiful landscape which changes every two hours.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Packing For Eighty Days

Packing for Eighty Days

“Bly had decided that she would take but a single bag, a small leather gripsack into which she would pack everything, from clothing to writing implements to toilet articles, that she might require for her journey; being able to carry her own bag would help prevent any delays that might arise from the interference or incompetence of porters and customs officials.”

In 1889  journalist Nellie Bly  made a decision after reading Jules Verne’s book Around The World In Eighty Days.   She would take a trip around the world like Phineas Fogg and write about it. She would do it in eighty days or less. She suggested the idea to her editor at the New York World. A year later, at 9:40 a.m. on November 14, 1889,  Nellie boarded the Augusta Victoria   and began her 24,899-mile journey.

“As her traveling dress she had selected a snugly fitted two-piece garment of dark blue broadcloth trimmed with camel’s hair. For warmth she was taking a long black-and-white plaid Scotch ulster coat, with twin rows of buttons running down the front, that covered her from neck to ankles; and rather than the hat and veil worn by most of the fashionable oceangoing women of the time, she would wear a jaunty wool ghillie cap – the English-style “fore-and-aft” cap later worn by Sherlock Holmes in the movies – that for the past three years had accompanied her on many of her adventures. The blue dress, the plaid ulster, the ghillie cap: to outward appearances it was not an especially remarkable outfit, but before long it would become the most famous one in all the world.”

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Gripsack – a small suitcase or carrying bag that can obviously fit everything one might need. Now remember we are talking the nineteenth century and clothes were bigger. She wasnt bringing leggings and t-shirts.

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A two piece traveling garment of dark blue broad cloth  – broad cloth is  a dense, plain weave woolen cloth which is highly weatherproof and hardy.  It was made in several parts of England at the end of the medieval period. Most of my travel clothes are made in China and Pakistan –  probably last week.

White Scotch Plaid Ulster Coat –.Ulster is a long loose overcoat of Irish origin made of heavy material. Scotch plaid is one of the original Scottish tartan patterns. There are so many words here that I love. You would have many adventures wearing a coat described like that.

Jaunty wool ghillie cap – The name was derived from  gille, the Scottish Gaelic for “servant” or a “lad”] In English. This term was especially used to refer to those assisting in deer hunting or fly fishing expeditions in the Scottish Highlands. Lovat Scouts, a Scottish Highland regiment formed by the British Army during the Second Boer War, is the first known military unit to use ghillie suits.

There is nothing jaunty about my everything proof hat from Adventure 16 but it does keep out sun and bugs and flattens for easy packing. Wearing something jaunty suggests a whole different kind of trip –motoring through the countryside, lunch with the Gatsbys etc. Jaunty is definitely better.

“She carried most of her money (£200 in English bank notes and gold in total as well as some American currency) in a bag tied around her neck.”

Same. I wear that creepy passport holder in the airport around my neck with foreign and American currency. – mostly so I don’t have to fish around in my oversized carry on  bag to find it quickly.

“On her travels around the world, Bly went through England, France (where she met Jules Verne in Amiens), Brindisi, the Suez Canal, Colombo (Ceylon), the Straits Settlements of Penang and Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.”

Ceylon is Sri Lanka. Penang is in Malaysia and Singapore is a country. Hong Kong is now China.  I have also spent time in Japan, England and France but I have many more countries to go to catch up with Nellie.

“The development of efficient submarine cable networks and the electric telegraph allowed Bly to send short progress reports, though longer dispatches had to travel by regular post and were thus often delayed by several weeks.”

So, one of the first travel blogs?

 “Bly traveled using steamships and the existing railroad systems, which caused occasional setbacks, particularly on the Asian leg of her race. During these stops, she visited a leper colony in China and she bought a monkey in Singapore.

I also have experienced delays and setbacks due to the existing aviation systems. I visited a children’s hospital in Cuba and fed a monkey in the Darian rainforest (even though you aren’t supposed to) in Panama.

“As a result of rough weather on her Pacific crossing, she arrived in San Francisco on the Oceanic on January 21, two days behind schedule. However, World owner Pulitzer chartered a private train to bring her home, and she arrived back in New Jersey on January 25, 1890, at 3:51 p.m.”

“Seventy-two days, six hours, eleven minutes and fourteen seconds after her departure” Bly was back in New York. . She had circumnavigated the globe almost unchaperoned.”

So, what are you waiting for?

quotes from Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman.

Fly Safe,

JAZ