Guest Post – Iceland

My lovely friend Hans went to Iceland and was kind enough to put together a guest post for me – enjoy! (I know I’ve been MIA lately, but I promise to start blogging again soon!)
Our first stop was Þingvellir, a rift valley where North America and Europe are drifting apart at a rate of 7 mm a year.
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The valley lined with long stone walls, that look like they just cracked open (which they probably did). North America is to the left.
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And with lots of smaller cracks as well. Who knows, in a couple of centuries, how big this crack will be?
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And there was a waterfall!
Next, we went to Geysir, which is where the word geyser comes from.
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The area is dotted with small vents from which the Earth is smoking. It smells of sulphur.
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This is the original geyser Geysir. Nowadays, it is mostly inactive, and only erupts after earthquakes.
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The nearby Strokkur geyser is very much not inactive. It erupt every 7–10 minutes, and this is what it looks like.
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The best part of this area was climbing up the nearby rock.
It offers incredible views over the next valley.
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And you can look back at Strokkur. As you can imagine, when you have a geyser that erupts every 7–10 minutes, there will be a ring of people around it, holding up their cameras, waiting for it to erupt.
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And there it goes!
The next stop was the waterfall Gullfoss.
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We had no trouble finding it, you can hear it from pretty far away.
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Up closer, you can barely see the gorge that it flows into, through all the mist.
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With all the water flying around, it was really chilly!
(Rachel here: Isn’t Hans  the most adorable!? I’m really glad he’s my friend!)
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The second day, we ventured out to Reynisfjara, the “Black Sand Beach”, about a 2.5 hour drive from Reykjavik.
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The views along the way were fantastic. Somewhere, up behind the mist, is Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that erupted in 2010 and shut down air travel in most of Europe.
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Sometimes, we just had to stop the car, to really take in the view.
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Finally, we arrived at the volcanic beach. The sand really was black!
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The rock by the beach looked liked it was growing upwards in long rectangular blocks around the cave.
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And there were flowers growing in turn on the rock!
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We also climbed up the steep hillside, because why not?
On the way back, we stopped by Seljalandsfoss, another beautiful waterfall. And the sun had come out!
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And you can walk right to the waterfall, and even behind it!
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On the third day in Iceland, we went for a hiking trip.
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It started like this. Notice how the ground is smoking in the distance!
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One of the best sights on the hike: a group of horses in the distance, just casually hanging out by the fumarole (a new word I learned on the trip).
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Across the hills we go, and there are more fumaroles in the distance.
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The trail passes right next to of the fumaroles. It smells of sulphur.
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Aside from all the hikers on the trail, there were also several groups of people on horses riding by.
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Here and there were streams with steaming hot water.
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Which is the real reason we came to this spot, in Reynisdalur: to take a bath in the hot springs!
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By the time we had hiked down, the horses had gotten tired of hanging out by the fumarole, and were just grazing around instead.
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And that’s it! We came back, really exhausted, and left early in the morning of the fourth day. All in all, an unforgettable trip!

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