Friday, September 12, 2008

Þingvellir

Frelsi á hagstæðum kjörum! 
(It's the journey not the destination)

I saw this written on an ad in our plane and I thought it was very fitting for our trip. After we got things taken care of with our rental car Iceland's very open roads were calling our names.

We had rented a little Citroën, which had an interesting function that enabled us to push back the sun visors and have a large windshield. I think it wanted to make us feel at one with the road. I was feeling it - I wanted to look at every inch of the scenery. Meanwhile, Stefan was feeling very American with his automatic car and a Mountain Dew at his side.

Times like these I was happy that Iceland doesn't have a large infrastructure because it's not as easy to get lost, and because we could pull over the car whenever we saw something interesting. I wanted to pull over for nearly any animals we saw along the way, rainbows, and in general just to breathe in the scenery without a windshield blocking my view. Even the excitement of Citroën's massive windshield didn't satisfy my urge to jump out of the car the moment I saw something interesting.

As soon as I heard about Þingvellir (pronounced Thingvellir) I wanted to visit. It is part of Iceland's 'Golden Circle', and is usually grouped with Gullfoss (the enormous waterfall) and Geysir (the geyser that named all geysers- quite the honor isn't it?).

Þingvellir is quite an amazing park and I am willing to bet it's a one of a kind. Lawyer types may get excited over this being the site of the very first parliament in the world, but I am more intrigued by the geology.

What's so special is that this is where beautiful little Iceland is getting torn in two. Slowly, but surely, the tectonic plates are separating. Sure tectonic plates are moving all around the world, which accounts for the frequent earth quakes, but here you can actually see it.

We stood on top of the Eurasian plate and then walked between it and the American plate.

After standing there in awe we overheard an American couple. The husband was raving about it being one of the most spectacular things he's ever seen, to which his wife, in her unfriendly for the terrain loafers replies, 'It's pretty cool I guess.' Stefan and I quietly laughed as he mocked her and said how ridiculous it was to have worn such girly shoes. I felt bad for the guy and hoped he made her hike around the park with him regardless. We encountered so many people who tried so hard to look nice, but ended up sticking out like the unprepared travelers.

Walking through the park also offered a few surprises - the Þingvellir Drekkingahylur, a small waterfall where adulterous women were executed by drowning, and later the larger waterfall - the Þingvellir Öxarárfoss.

The views, as always in Iceland, are just unbelievable. I'm sure fantastic weather had something to do with that as well, but it was a stunning day - even when we had light rain.

While we were driving we spotted another rainbow. It was so striking against the landscape. I must say that Iceland doesn't work too hard at making me fall in love with it.

Along the way back we passed sheep and horses. The sheep kind of run wild. When we tried to walk towards them they ran, yet they would stand along the sides of the street without any hesitation. I guess they realized the cars yield to them. In my astonishment I was telling Stefan I couldn't believe how many sheep there were. Being the witty one he is, he said, 'someone has to make all of those sweaters.'

I never really had much interest in horses or went through a horse phase, but seeing them in the vast field called for a stop.

The moment I got out of the car they all came up to see me and were very docile and friendly, which made me really happy. I could not get over how beautiful they are. One had really striking blue eyes, which I don't think I ever saw on a horse.

They all seemed to have their own personalities. I could have stayed there for a while just petting them, but we were headed back to enjoy the lagoon.

6 comments:

ohabbyreally said...

I love the third picture, of just Stefan? Beautiful!

I also love the idea of you yelling "rainbow!!!" and your car screeching to a hault so you could get out and photograph it.

I hope you have something really special planned to do with all of these photos, they are seriously amazing.

JoernandAllison said...

Animals in different settings can be as impacting as geological wonders. That is wonderful that you got to see so many beautiful animals.
It is so incredible too that you had the opportunity to see the plates. We all learn about tectonic plates, but how many of us see them?
Every post is amazing, intriguing, and wonderful!

Emily said...

abby...
Yes, that's just Stefan.
You have me figured out - that's pretty much how it worked. Or I would see those horses and say turn around! I was probably the back seat driver that everyone dreads.
I think I am going to make a book for ourselves or decorate with them all - I have no idea.

allison...
The animals were so peaceful and happy (at least it appeared) - what animal doesn't like to roam around? I'm so glad that you are enjoying all of the trip. I'll have to find something to write about once it's all over!

JoernandAllison said...

Your refrigerator is coming in a week, that is almost (but not quite exciting as your trip)!

Emily said...

allison...
Very true! - Hopefully Oktoberfest will keep thinking exciting.

Bluefish said...

I love sheeps but I never touched one in my life.