Good-bye Iceland

Today was the warmest day on Iceland so far: blue sky with white clouds, the sun was shining and the strong wind that we had experienced during the past days had become much weaker. The backside of the sunny and comparably calm day was however the appearance of hundreds of irritating mosquitoes that seemed to pop up everywhere. All of these are non-biting midges and the only thing they do is being annoying – they swarm all over, and creep into the ears, the mouth, the nose, and behind the sunglasses!

The area around the picturesque waterfalls of Dettifoss and Sellfoss, and the lava field at Dimmuborgir were today’s focus. We looked at lava stones, which have a nicely polished surface on one side, and rough and edgy surfaces on the other sides. The polish has been made by the strong wind that sweeps over the land surface and carries small sand- and silt-sized particles, which act like a scrub. Standing here for a few minutes facing the wind would make any face scrub unnecessary!

The river has created a deep canyon, exposing beautiful pillar basalt. At one place the canyon cuts right through the middle of a small volcano, splitting it into half and thus exposing the vertical channel were the magma had been rising and gradually cooling.

So much still needed to be done for our film project, and we were not sure at all that we would manage due to the very tight schedule.  We would have needed several days to film all these great sights: the waterfalls, the basalt columns, the wind-polished lava stones, the old volcanoes, the tiny flowers, and the stunning rainbows that became visible in the mist close to the waterfall. Unfortunately the schedule made all the detailed filming impossible, because we had so many other ‘to do’ things on our list; we needed more close shots of the students drawing and studying rocks and minerals, and we needed some interviews with the students too. For the interviews we needed a place with no or little wind and this was not easy in an area where the wind was almost a continuous companion. Nerys and I finally found a calmer spot at Dimmuborgir, where the lava field had created sheltered areas with small hollows and cavities, and where the ample tree birch vegetation provided protection from the wind. We had exactly one hour left to conduct the four interviews and managed with a margin of less than five minutes before the bus left for Akureyri, from where we were flying back to Reykjavik.

Imagine how I felt at the airport check-in, when the clerk told me that I was not booked on today’s 19:25 flight, but on tomorrow’s! For a couple of seconds I thought the world would go under – I would not be able to get on this flight, I would miss my connecting flight from Reykjavik, I would get home later than planned and I would have to re-book the whole trip. But sometimes luck is on one’s side! One single seat was still available on the small airplane and with the help of my credit card I managed to get the seat.

Reykjavik was covered in thick clouds when we arrived, and temperatures were below 10 degrees C. It reminded me of years ago when I had visited the city and everything was just grey and dark and not at all inviting.

After a quick shower and a change of clothes we left for the Pearl restaurant where we had planned our farewell dinner. The restaurant is situated slightly above the city and is constructed as a big futuristic, turning bulb on concrete pillars. The food was delicious, and the view over the city was great, despite the fog. I am not sure whether Nerys could really enjoy the food and the view. She had spotted Bon Jovi at a table next to us and got all excited seeing him, since she had been his fan since she was a kid and had also just been to one of his concerts. Or, maybe it was just a person who looked like Bon Jovi? By the time we had the courage to go over to his table to find out, he had left.

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Iceland is a wonderful place and definitely a place to come back to: stunning landscapes, nice people, good food, and so much more to see. I am definitely going back soon.

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