Saturday, 19 April 2014

Geysir Hot Spring area - Iceland

Did you know that all of the world's spouting hot springs are named after Geysir in Iceland.
All around the world the word  “geysir” or “geyser”is the name of a hot spouting volcanic spring. In  Icelandic,however it refers most specifically to a single geyser. In fact there is only one real Geysir and that can be found in south-west Iceland.

In winter the geysir area is pretty bleak as you can see.

Geysirs steam for most of the time and then depending on the timing the hot water spouts out at different times. This Geysir geysir spouted quite frequently and we saw it spout a few times while we were walking around the geysir area.

The steaming geysir , then it bubbled then spouted.

I loved the steaming atmosphere and seeing the farmhouse through the thick geysir steam.

Very atmospheric scene.

Three geysirs in the area with different names

It was a bit like a lunar landscape with steaming bubbling cauldrons around the area and I found it odd yet attractive in a weird sort of way.

Hellisheiði Power Plant - Iceland

On our Golden Circle trip from Reykjavik our first stop was the Hellisheiði Power Plant which is just 20 minutes drive from Reykjavík on Route 1, towards Hveragerði.

The building looks like a state of the art gallery and in fact to some extent it is.

You can see there are some pretty impressive pieces of art work presented beautifully in huge galleries that we walked around.

The galleries not only had art work but also had informative displays and interactive screens telling about geothermal activity and how the power is harnessed at the centre.

There is a coffee shop and gift shop as well as a very informative gallery explaining about geothermal activity and how the Icelandic people have harnessed this for their heating.

There was a very informative film and then a guide told us a bit more and took us onto the viewing platforms to see the shiny clean machinery below us that collected and transformed the energy to be used.

I don't think I have ever been to a power plant or factory that was as clean and quiet as this one was.

This shows the fact that this facility utilizes the world's largest geothermal turbine rotor blade measuring 31.2 " and it was supplied by Toshiba from Japan.

The Icelandic trolls. Gryla and Leppaludi. The Icelandic people are very superstitious about their fairy folk. Apparently Gryla liked too feast on naughty children.

It was pretty cold when we visited and although inside the power plant was warm, outside had a a deep layer of snow and a lot of ice.

 Although it looks like the middle of the night, it was in fact around 9,30 to 10.00 am when this photo was taken. It didn't really get light all day, more like dusk really. It was January so in summer they get light for nearly 24 hours instead.

Monday, 14 April 2014

A walk along the sea front in Reykjavik

Reykjavik is right on the sea and has a small harbour. We started our walk from the Hofdi House and walked back into the city at the Harpa Concert Hall

Hofdi house

We then walked along the front enjoying the views and interesting sights on the way.

 The photo above shows the beautiful snow capped mountains across the bay from Reykjavik.

Looking back at the city from the shore near the Hofdi House.

I am not sure if this was naturally here or a piece of volcanic rock brought to decorate the shoreline.

Peeking through the volcanic rock towards the sea.

This stylized Viking ship skeleton sculpture looked perfect against the sea and the snow covered mountains in the background.

Not quite sure what this sculpture represents but it looked interesting.

Our walk finished with a coffee in this beautiful glass covered concert hall - the Harpa Concert Hall.

It was a lovely walk, brisk chilly wind but with bright sunshine as well.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Hotel Fron - Reykjavik

We stayed here three nights on our short break in Iceland and found it to be clean and very centrally located for all the sights in Reykjavik.

I was quite taken with the artwork in the Reception area.

The Reception area was a decent size with comfortable seats where we could wait for taxis or mini buses for trips.

Our room was a kind of suite with a kitchenette, and a seating area but it was all a bit dated and tired looking although it was very clean.

The seats were not that comfortable and the TV was small and an old fashioned CRT model. Luckily a lot of Icelandic TV is in English so when we did watch it we could understand it.

As you can see the decor is a but tired but the room was pretty big. the view was dull and all we could see was a very small car park.

The beds were actually two singles pushed together made up as two singles which were more comfortable than they looked.

We had breakfast included and it was a simple buffet with Icelandic yogurt called skyr which I liked, some fresh fruit , breads and  some cheese and cold meats. It was not the best breakfast we had ever had but it was far from being the worst. It gave us a good start to the day.

The Blue Lagoon

One of the things we wanted to do when we visited Iceland was to go to the Blue Lagoon.

We arrived just as it opened in the morning and being winter the sun had not yet come up. I believe it was around 10 am at least.

We enjoyed a coffee and snack in the cafe overlooking the lagoon before heading for the changing rooms.

The lagoon was gloriously warm but in order to get into the water you had to leave your wrap and shoes on a hanging clothes stand and walk speedily into the water before you got too cold.

The sun coming up and the steamy geyser in the centre sending up lots of steam.

Around the lagoon edges there were boxes full of salty slop which you could put on your face . It dried white and crisp and then you carefully washed it off trying not to get it in your eyes. It was meant to help your skin look great.z

The steam made the whole place slightly eerie looking. You had to swim splash free as the salty water would make your eyes sting but the salt kept you floating easily if you just wanted to lie back and float.

You had to be careful not to stay in too long as warm salty water is quite dehydrating. When we out out we had plenty of water to drink.

The changing rooms were sleek and clean

Looking out over the lagoon from the cafe where we had lots of water and something to eat.

Outside the Blue Lagoon there were thermal pools and beautiful blue water with salty crystals at the edges.

Thermal pools and volcanic scenery around the Blue Lagoon.

Snow crystals around the thermal pools.

Volcanic rocks surround the Blue Lagoon.

Harpa - The Concert Hall in Reykjavik

This modern building made of lots of glass windows reflects the sky and sea beautifully.

This new building is right on the sea front not far from the Old Harbour and can be seen from some way away.

It is the home of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and the Icelandic Opera has hosted concerts from Bjork and many other modern musicians.

The design was influenced by Iceland's natural and dramatic scenery and the glass exterior was designed by  Olafur Elisson who also designed the New York Harbour installation.

Whatever time we passed this building the colours changed. It looked great in all the lights. At night it was light up with multi colours while during the day it reflected what was going on around it.

This photo shows what the Harpa building looks like from across the harbour.

The concert Hall has four main halls and several smaller meeting rooms. The largest concert hall holds a huge 1,800 seated visitors.

The building is basically a steel frame covered with different coloured geometric glass panels which change colour as the light changes.

Inside was a dramatic as outside.

We had a cup of coffee at the cafe and thought about going on a tour but we were running short of time so decided not to bother. 

A beautiful modern building that adds to rather than detracts from the other buildings around.