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Day 18 - July 29, 2008 - Reykjavik, Iceland

By Juan C. Restrepo, Geologist & General Naturalist

Co-ordinates: 64° 08.998`, 021° 56.348`

This day’s weather was truly a surprise for all of us. From a rainy and cool morning, it went to the high twenties Celsius (mid-eighties in Fahrenheit) in the afternoon with blue skies.  A beautiful and clear night closed the show.

Early in the morning, we came alongside the beautiful city of Reykjavik.  At 9 am most of us went on a full-day tour around the Reykjanes peninsula and southwest Iceland. 

Some guests decided to stay in Reykjavik and investigate and relax on their own. 

We boarded the coaches at 9 am and headed east.  Along the road, we saw impressive moss-covered lava fields and geothermal plants.  Our first stop was at the small town of Eden for a look at some greenhouses and souvenir shopping.  Then we headed towards the Thjorsa river, Iceland`s longest river.  Along its flanks we saw the Burfell power station and the landscape became more barren and desolate as we drove away from the ring road, the road that goes around the island.   

A short photo stop at some cliffs provided nice panoramic views of the valley with the impressive Hekla volcano at the far side. Later on we stopped at the Skalholt, a church built at the place where in 1550 the Catholic bishop Holar Jon Arasson and his two sons were executed. After a lunch stop at a small hut in the middle of nowhere, we moved on to Hjalparfoss, a beautiful waterfall in the Thjorsa River.  In the surrounding area there were many pseudo-craters – small craters formed when a lava flow comes in contact with small ponds in inundated areas.   A visit to Pjorsardalur, a reconstructed medieval farmhouse, was most interesting. Set in a beautiful location, turf-covered houses that were buried by the Hekla`s 1104 eruption provided an insight into the lifestyle of commoners in the 11th and 12th centuries.

We then started heading back, and stopped along the road to have a distant look at Mt. Hekla, one of Iceland`s most active volcanoes.  At 6 pm we were back on board.

At 7 pm the Expedition Team gave the final recap of the voyage and the final instructions for disembarkation.  A humorous “Iceland Enquirer” and “Svalbard Post” report was given by Christian Walter to the great amusement of the attending guests.

Dinner followed and most guests went back to their suites to pack and prepare for departure the following morning.

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