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Phespirit goes to Iceland
Reykjavík     March 1996

AROUND ICELAND

Map of Iceland

1 Reykjavík

There is so much of the peculiarly-different in Reykjavík .....

  • water: in Phespirit's hotel the water from the hot taps had a strong whiff of sulphur about it - it's all geothermal here;
  • buildings: the churches are concrete, not brick or stone - a cold, stark architecture for a cold, stark landscape;
  • transportation: four-wheel drive is the means of choice - not vanity vehicles but vital here, both on-road and off-road;
  • birdlife: the swans on Tjörnin lake have yellow bills - this is Whooper Swan country;
  • people: they seem to be a stocky, hardy bunch - there are few, if any, waif-like Björks to be seen amongst them;

..... but then as the modern capital of a volcanic sub-Arctic island risen from the deep mid-Atlantic, Reykjavík ought to be different.

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2 The Blue Lagoon

When approaching the Blue Lagoon, the first thing that stands out is not the dazzling outdoor spa but instead is the steam-shrouded geothermal powerplant that looms above it. The plant draws water from deep beneath the Reykjanes Peninsula lava field, processes it through various turbines and heat exchangers, and then spills it out nearby to form the famous bathing pool.

It is not often that people will travel great distances and pay good money to immerse themselves in the run-off from heavy industry.

Whether or not the Blue Lagoon provides positive health benefits, Phespirit couldn't tell from his own experience. That it is novel and fun, however, he can wholeheartedly confirm.

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3 Grindavík

Phespirit attended the fishing port of Grindavík just long enough to rate it as grim, weather-beaten and generally unappealing. This is probably an unfair assessment based solely on a ridiculously brief visit that barely scratched the surface, but there it is.

He watched some Eider Ducks bobbing in the harbour, picked up a souvenir lump of volcanic rock from the harbour wall, then left.

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4 Reykjanes Lighthouse

Reykjanes Lighthouse stands exposed and isolated on the bleak southwest tip of the Reykjanes Peninsula.

Phespirit admired the raw scenery then scrambled to the top of a hill to feel the raw wind, but didn't stick around too long after that.

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5 Hafnir

The coastal town of Hafnir has its Sæfiskasafnið. This is a marine aquarium that keeps tanks of every common species of fish found in Icelandic waters, and that - catering for every taste - also has a collection of crabs and molluscs.

Phespirit was quite keen to buy himself a cod-skin glasses-case, but sadly the ones on offer were all too large for his specs. Surely the North Atlantic cod are said to be a diminishing species ....?

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  1. Reykjavík
  2. The Blue Lagoon
  3. Grindavík
  4. Reykjanes Lighthouse
  5. Hafnir
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Reykjavík The Blue Lagoon Grindavík Reykjanes Lighthouse Hafnir