{Iceland} CECA 2009 – Day 4

October 8, 2009

Iceland

On the programme for today was a study tour to South Iceland. First of all we visited Eyrarbakki on the south coast, where we were able to view the Maritime Museum as well as Husið (‘The House’), one of Iceland’s oldest buildings. As well as being able to see how families lived in The House in the 18th century, there was an exhibition in response to the earthquake which hit South Iceland in May 2008. It was short but strong, and although no one was killed or seriously injured, people felt the need to talk about it. The museum responded with the exhibition ‘Where Where You?’ which the local community was able to contribute to. Our visit also coincided with the first proper snowfall of the season, and some delegates took the opportunity to build a snowman!

Eyrarbakki

Eyrarbakki

Next we drove on to the waterfall at Gullfoss (‘Golden Falls’) on the river Hvítá, which plunges over 30m/100ft into a crevice below. We also stopped here for lunch and partook of the infamous Icelandic meat soup, which the restaurant at Gulfoss is renowned for. After lunch we drove on to the world-famous hot spring area at Geysir. Sadly, the ‘Great Geysir’, after which all other geysirs take their name, is hardly active these days, but the nearby Strokkur erupts every 5 to 10 minutes and is also very impressive. As well as watching Strokkur errupt, we were able to visit the Geysir Centre, which provides a multimedia experience for understanding the science and forces of nature behind earthquakes, volcanoes, geothermal activity such as geysirs and fumeroles, and other natural phenomena such as the northern lights.

Strokkur

Strokkur

Our final stop of the day was Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site and seat of Iceland’s first parliament – possibly the oldest parliament in the world – established in 930 and remaining at Þingvellir until 1789. The park itself lies across the area where the American and Eurasian continental tectonic plates are drifting apart at a rate of 2cm per year. Before returning to Reykjavík we were treated to some Icelandic delicacies – cubes of putrified shark washed down with a shot of Brennivín, Iceland’s signature alcoholic beverage, made from fermented potato pulp, and flavoured with caraway seeds.

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