Thursday, March 28, 2013

ICEland? Oh, I get it.

For the first six days of my stay in Iceland, I was catching glimpses of glaciers here and there. It wasn't until the seventh day, when our group reached Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, that I experienced an actual Land of Ice. Jökulsárlón is as the edge of Vatnajökull which I've heard described as the largest non-polar glacier and Europe's largest glacier (although Wikipedia confirms only that it is Europe's largest by volume not by area, not counting anything in Russia).

Vatnajökull Peak, Hvannadalshnúkur

Either way, this is an enormous mass of ice. Our guide Anna suggested that the eariest voyagers to Iceland must have made their approach from the southeast where Vatnajökull sits, and faced with this view of nothing but ice, they named the whole island Iceland (Ísland)

At Jökulsárlón, icebergs break off the fresh water glacier and drop into the sea water lagoon. It takes two to three years for the 'bergs to reach the open ocean. In the meantime, that salt water works away at the surface of the ice, creating astonishing textures in blue and white.

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My little group arrived at the lagoon early in the morning. We were usually a chatty lot but the site of this frozen parade struck us rather quiet. The only sound was the faint cracking, creaking and bobbing of the chunks of ice as they shifted slightly in the still water.

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The lagoon empties into the harbour. More ice is scattered on the volcanic black sand, left where it has been tossed back by the waves. The whole place is beautiful in a surreal, serene, isolating way. Blue, white and black.

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2 comments :

Wandering Justin said...

Nice post, and great photos. Iceland is such an underrated destination. Love it!

Thomas Rose said...

Great Shots! We returned from Iceland last Monday. It was great :-)
Thomas

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