Tag Archives: West Iceland

Going Deep in Iceland

At a certain point, you see with your chest, not with your eyes. Here with the tide rushing out at Kolgrafarfjörður at sundown around 2:30 pm on the shortest day, the light might be in the air, but it’s really in the water, which you “see” with its substance.

In other words, light is a substance as well, which this photograph, which can only capture the energy within it, can only hint at. You have to be there, because only a body can experience this.  However, renting a car at Harpa at 10 a.m. and rushing out to Snæfellsnes, and back to Reykjavik in time for a quick snack and the 8 pm. Northern Lights Bus Tour will only keep you in the light’s energy. You won’t become the sea. There’s not just one Iceland in the same place at the same time. And it’s not just the sea. It’s the Earth as well, here from Ríf four days later, looking up to the glacier.

I think this is what Gunnar Gunnarsson meant in his 1936 essay “Thoughts on Nordic Fate” (Nordische Schicksalsgedanke), when he spoke of salvation — not in the modern sense of rescue through Christ but in an older sense, of the healing of separation. His answer was to go home to Iceland, but I’m not sure it has accepted him yet.

Or  has  it?

The Secret Origin of Icelandic Horses Revealed at Last

Icelandic horses are very beautiful, especially in a winter gale. Icelanders will tell you that their ancestors brought them over from Norway by ship. Sure, guys.

Let me take you behind the curtains of that little deception. It might look easy to be an Icelandic horse…

… but like being an Icelander …

… it can be a little rough. Really tough on the hair, for one.

Not only that, but tense, like.

Makes a horse a little crazed, you might think.

Watch out for your ears.

Yeah, but that is all because horses didn’t come over on boats from Norway and continue on to create America out of a lump of clay…


…just as Icelanders aren’t vikings but the descendants of Norwegian farmers and their Irish slaves, who came here for the good hotdogs.

As for the horses, they live near waterfalls. It’s a thing.

Svodufoss

Note the horses being born above. You can just make them out below, too.

The paddock is nearby, where humans can keep an eye on the miracle.

Hólmskelsárfoss

Miracle? Yes. Here’s a foal just about to be born in the stream coming down from the falls.
Hólmskelsá

That’s how it works in a magical country. That the resulting horses look like the horses you might meet elsewhere, well…

… that’s part of the magic, too.

Now you know.

The Dwarf Castle of Skardsvik

We went to Seyðisfjörður to visit the dwarf church, one of our favourite places in Iceland, but sadly it is no longer accessible except by boat. However, we had the good fortune to walk down to the beach at Skardsvik, on the complete other side of the country, and there was a whole dwarf fortress. Hurrah!

Here’s  the gate.

Note the red stone to the right of the opening.

And  some  of the  finer  details…

I  really  love  the  next  one.

Here it is close up.

Always leave a gift. I left a pink flower, as I had no coins in my pocket. (Always carry coins in your pocket. That’s a new rule.) And then, on the road again:

In this way, the land is never empty. In this way, the land is always a gift and never full.

Learning to Tilt in Iceland

The land teaches that all falling is not vertical.

Hamrahlið, north of Grund

Good to know.

Grundarfjörður, west of Grund

When we were there, parents were being advised to walk their children under 12 to school, as the hurricane-force winds might blow them over. The older kids could tilt, it seems, like everyone else.

Iceland Travel Tip #2: Instead of Reykjavik 101

The  101 district of Reykjavik is famous for being trendy. It is, admittedly, a great place to stare at the architecture that replaces a view, in generic spaces full of cars, dumpsters and starlings, all most familiar and comforting…

…but  you could go to Frambuðír and have a view deep into the Atlantic and Iceland’s heart.

Easy to get to. Just fight your way out of the city, north on Highway 1, turn left at Borgarnes, and before dinner time, with the Snaefell glacier looming over you, turn left to the little church at Buðir. Park, and walk west on the path closest to the sea. Within an hour, you will be staring out of this old farmhouse.  Because you won’t want to leave, there is, conveniently, a hotel right beside the church. You can shelter there.

When you come back to Reykjavik, if you come back, you might see it more directly.

Just saying.

Grundarfoss and Its Mysteries

I took this image of Grundarfoss on a very cold morning because, well, how cool is it that the public water supply of a major city of 872 people (huge for Iceland) is a waterfall. Very cool! So cool, I could hardly hold the camera steady.

But look what I missed, at the base of the cliff just to the right of the base of the main fall: a lava tube. Now, how cool is that! But, of course, it’s a public water supply, so no snooping around there. Rats. What about the troll at the base of the hill at the left of the image. I bet they’d let me go visit it.

The Christian Magic that Invented Iceland

An Old Story Telling its Knot on the Road West of Sælingsdal

Over eleven hundred years, men can cut down all the trees, keep their horses for memory, erode the soil with sheep, battle frost heaves, put in a jeep track, buy a German tractor and some good American haying equipment, and strew nitrogen fertilizer around to stay alive, but the Cross that a woman ordered hammered into a stone to hold back the elves who lived inside it remains, and you will likely think of it as a children’s story. Still, your tractor can’t do a thing with it, nor your sheep, nor your beautiful horses.