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Iceland -- the land of fire and ice




This really is the land of fire and ice.
While three major glaciers cover 15 per cent of the country, you can also get up close and personal with thermal vents as they roar their superheated sulphurous steam out through cracks in the ground.

“It’s hot!” exclaimed one visitor as he quickly pulled back the hand he had thrust toward one fumarole alongside Highway 1, just past Lake Myvatn here in northern Iceland.

The geothermal activity provides the country with much of its hot water and heating plus about one-quarter of its electricity.

While nearby Greenland is mostly ice, Iceland, which hangs just below the Arctic Circle, is mostly green — at least in the summer. Iceland attractions revolve mainly around nature. The vast treeless landscapes are truly spectacular.

Lava fields in various stages of disintegration dominate large parts of the country. Mountains, including volcanoes, rise steeply from the valleys. The ocean is never far away and along with the many lakes, attracts abundant birdlife.

Because of the fire below, you can bathe in large outdoor spa pools like the Blue Lagoon and the five-year-old Myvatn Nature Baths whose opening is sometimes delayed while the super-heated water is cooled to a tolerable 40 C.

The volcanic nature of Iceland is very evident. Eruptions are so prevalent (30 volcanoes have erupted over the past two centuries) the phonebook’s “how to cope with natural disasters” section includes detailed instructions on the best way to survive a volcanic eruption.

Keflavik sits on Iceland’s southwest tip, the Reykjanes peninsula, which offers a taste in miniature of many of the country’s attractions: golfing, deep sea fishing, the lava fields including the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are moving apart at 2.5 centimetres a year, a replica of the Viking ship Islendingur (Vikings first settled in Iceland in 874) and the Blue Lagoon.

Reykjavik, the world’s most northerly capital city, is a 45-minute drive north on a mostly four-lane highway.

Keep an eye out for the irreverent but informative Reykjavik Grapevine, which recently published The Best of Reykjavik 2009, including “Best place to cheer up (the petting zoo),” “Best biking tour,” “Best place to shop for touristy stuff (Handprjonasambandio)” and “Best place to hook up (Vegamot, Hresso, Dubliners)” — as well as restaurants and bars.

By the middle of the short summer, large rolled hay bales, covered in white plastic, start showing up in the fields, along with sheep and cows and the sturdy, short (1.3-metre high) and mild mannered Icelandic horses, whose special running walk is so smooth the rider hardly notices the motion (they are also raised for their meat).

Here are just a few highlights:
* The easy, one-day Golden Circle tour just to the east of Reykjavik includes Geysir (and its Strokkur geyser which shoots water and steam 30 metres into the air every few minutes), the Gullfoss waterfall and Thingvellir National Park with moonlike landscapes and another section of the ever-widening Mid-Atlantic Ridge. For delicious, fresh, local food and the most amazing chocolate mousse with raspberry puree and watermelon pieces, plan a lunch or dinner stop at Lindin restaurant, in Laugarvatn.

* Drive north to Borgarnes where the Settlement Centre provides a fascinating history of how and where the Vikings settled in Iceland starting in the 10th century.

* Hvammstangi features the Icelandic Seal Centre, an Icelandic wool-knitting factory and shop, and nearby Gauksmyri Lodge, with horseback riding, hiking, birdwatching, yoga and Bowen therapy.

* Lake Myvatn is surrounded by lava fields, craters, bubbling mud pots, steaming fumaroles and otherworldly landscapes as well tranquil countryside for hiking, cycling and climbing.

* Long daylight hours in summer allow you to make the most of your visit.




Full story: Montreal Gazette
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Mizar:

The pic that you posted .... Is it natural or artifical?
小魚記事簿
難分真與假,人面多險詐, 幾許有共享榮華, 簷畔水滴不分差.....

Be a Blogger!!
pic 好似西牛
小魚 & CK,

That pic is real natural!!~  
That mossy thing on the stones is lava, which is molten rock expelled by volcano during eruption.




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