Thursday, November 15, 2012

Akureyri Days 4 and 5




Sorry it has been a little bit in the making.  For some reason, editing these few photos from Akureyri have been fairly difficult.  I am no longer in Iceland and I really enjoyed my stay there.  These images are from my last days in Akureyri.  I decided to go on a tour and take in some of the Icelandic landscape.  The snow finally stopped, and while no Northern Lights were seen, I still was able to see some of Iceland's breath taking beauty.  I booked a tour with The Traveling Viking.  A youngish guy showed up at my hotel in a jeep with giant wheels.  He informed me when I got into the vehicle that we just had one other person to pick up for the tour.  It ended up being just myself and one other person on this tour, and it was incredible.  Jon (the Traveling Viking dude), told us all sorts of stories, both true and make believe and it made the day really incredible.  Our first stop was at a waterfall that I had been dying to go to call Godafoss.  Godafoss is known as the waterfall of the gods because back when Iceland was taken over by Norway, they had to become Christian.  The Icelanders weren't really happy with this idea, so they decided to pretend that they had become Christian, but really they were going to stay pagan.  As a show of converting, the Iceland King took the wooden statues of Icelandic gods and threw them over a waterfall.  Legend is is that Godafoss is that waterfall.  The entire thing was incredibly breath taking.  I couldn't get over how amazing the falls were.

Lake Myvatn

Lake Myvatn
Our next stop was Lake Myvatn (Mee-Vaht).  This is one of the best places to go in the summer, in the winter it is kind of... snowy and icy.  Well, half the lake is anyway.  The other half is fed by hot springs and never freezes. So learning about that was pretty neat.

Lava Fields

Sitting Troll

Trolls contemplating life  
After the lake, we ventured into the lava fields.  These were really spectacular, and there are some awesome folk lore stories about the formations.  In Iceland, they have 13 Santa Clauses.  These Santas are called the Yule Lads, and they are the kids of a human eating troll (can't remember her name) and her husband who was human.  Troll women are very nice to human men because they like them more.  So this particular troll found a man she liked and had 13 boys.  All of these Yule Lads have really ridiculous names like Door Slammer, Pot Licker etc.  Several years ago the kids of Iceland asked the Yule Lads to be good, so since then, the Lads have been good.  Every year for Christmas, those that can venture to the Lava Fields near Lake Myvatn, because this is where the Yule Lads live.  There they can have hot chocolate, treats, and they get to see where the Yule Lads live.  After a day of festivities, the Yule Lads and all the people go to the nearby Lake Myvatn Nature Baths where the Lads take their annual bath.  All but one goes into the steamy water.  Pot Licker doesn't enjoy water because he thinks that water causes all sorts of bad things to happen to him (like his teeth falling out).
Another story of the formations goes like this (this is how Jon told it):
A family of trolls used to live in the fields and rocks where these formations are now.  They were a mom, dad, and a teenager troll. One day the mom and dad decided they wanted to go to Reykjavik to gobble up some humans.  The teenager, being a typical "stay away from me" sort of teen, asked if he could stay home.  The parents agreed as long as he didn't throw any parties.  Of course he didn't listen.  He threw this huge party and everyone was having such a great time, they didn't realize the sun was coming up. Trolls turn into rocks, you see, once the sun hits them.  The parents returned from Reykjavik to find a huge field of stones where their house used to be, and their son and all his friends had turned to stone.

Bread Pots

bubbling mud pots

Inside hotsprings cave

Where the American and European continental plates meet


hot spring

Hot spring

tree outside of hotspring cave

Hot springs 
Our last ventures were to a cave that used to be used as a hot springs, the bubbling mud pots, the Lake Myvatn Nature Baths, and to their bread making facilities.  Families that live near the steam vents can bring their bread dough to a family "steam vent" and put it in there to bake.  It tastes amazing, although it can be pretty dense.  The whole process is pretty neat.  They take an inside drum of a washing machine and create little hot pots for their bread.  The Mud pots are really similar to Yellowstone, it felt like I was back at home.  The Nature Baths were lovely with naturally heated hot water and a volcanic sand floor.  It was a great way to relax after a full day of venturing around Iceland!

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