Why is it that I see so many red, ripe, plump tomatoes and piles of cucumbers at Icelandic buffet tables, despite the short summer and freezing cold dark long winters? Well, if you visit FRODHEIMAR greenhouse cultivation centre and other similar places you will find out. The magic behind growing pesticide-free tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes and more with the aid of geothermal heat, which Iceland has in abundance, is explained.
Once again my buddy Halldor came up trumps and dropped me off at the huge REYKJAVIC EXCURSIONS bus terminal where I climbed onto a luxury bus with an informative guide for a 6 hour GOLDEN CIRCLE TOUR. We first drove to THINGVELLIR, a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE National Park. Here the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling the country apart at a rate of a few centimeters each year.
Next stop is GEYSIR, a very busy geothermal area with four restaurants, a hotel, cottages and more construction to cater for the ever increasing number of international tourists. STROKKUR erupts every few minutes and there is plenty of opportunity to eat, drink and take selfies. I have been to similar places in California at YOSEMITE National Park and in ROTORUA in North Island, New Zealand where we saw our meat and vegetables and bread wrapped in foil and pulled out of the earth for our Maori 'caberat' and dinner.
On to GULLFOSS waterfall with its three-step waterfall, filled with melt water from Langjokull glacier in the distance. The water tumbles into a deep crevice and you can get up close to the spray and the action.
Lots to see in downtown Reykjavic all of which I found easily walkable. Hallgrimskirkja is a Lutheran church high above the city, but still only a ten minute walk from the main street. Hoftdi House, a former French consulate, looks over the sea and is where in 1986 Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachov met for two days, to begin the process of ending the Cold War. The newest edition to the landscape is the award winning HARPA Concert Hall with a multitude of events, concerts, films and exhibitions and one of my favourite modern architectural wonders.
Downtown is the unassuming ALTHINGI, the world's oldest parliament since 930 AD. The 19th Century house and the Icelandic parliament's main debating chamber is situated inside. . Iceland is an independent country, formerly ruled from Oslo, and later Copenhagen.. If you look up you can still see the Danish crown and coat of arms on the front side.
Out of town is BESSASTADIR the official residence of Gudni Th. Johannesson, The President of Iceland and The First Lady.. Originally from 1000 AD and with a rich history. it is set in a volcanic rock area and has been home to the country's presidents since 1941.
LAUGAVAGER is a very long street downtown full of restaurants, pubs, shops and galleries which is awake most of the night at weekends. It leads to the old harbour where I saw two of the three ships of the Icelandic Coast Gurad which also has four aircraft and that is the total number of ships and aircraft in the defence forces, so I am told. The harbour has a number of museums, tour agencies and restaurants, most specializing in seafood.aj
The first settlers landed in what is now called REYKJAVIC and called it SMOKY BAY as they saw smoke rising from the ground, and translated to Reykyjavic. LAUGAVAGER means WASH ROAD where people walked down to wash their clothes.. Icelanders are claen living people !!