Mainly kayaking photographs taken on the Isle of Man and beyond.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Iceland Panoramas.

We spent last week in Iceland. It's a new country both politically and geologically. Iceland only became independent from Denmark in the 1940's, and the island is studded with volcanoes, many of which are still busy spewing out new bits of Iceland. All this volcanic activity is reflected in the landscape. Steam rises from the ground, there are craters and numerous obviously volcanic peaks. Vast lava flows scar the countryside, interrupted by tall lava spouts, and much of the island resembles the surface of the moon. But other areas of the island are much older, with tall peaks and fjords reminiscent of Norway. The original Icelandic settlers from about 1000 years ago originated in Norway, and a version of ancient Norse is still spoken.
Iceland is quirky and Reykjavik's trendy bars, pubs, restaurants and shops rival those of much larger capitals. The people are stylish and Icelandic design and architecture is on display everywhere. Over half of the county's 300.000 population live in the capital, Reykjavik. This, along with the variable geography, extraordinarily extreme weather and vast open roads gives the impression of a much larger country. Much of Iceland is empty. To be honest much of Iceland is uninhabitable and 15% of it is under permanent ice cap. The vast central areas are virtually unreachable, and it is illegal to drive in much of the central desert without a special off road driving license.
I enjoyed Iceland and I would go again. One week is not long enough to fully appreciate all that it has to offer. And yet, as my Nordic safari continues, for me there was possibly a bit too much "newness" going on compared to some of the other Scandinavian countries I have visited. With their recent economic boom, which has now collapsed, many of the buildings are very recent indeed. Much of Reykjavik is new and, along with many towns and villages in Iceland , it has a prefabricated feel to it. It is very clean, neat and modern, but fails to capitalize on natural building materials such as stone and wood. Corrugated iron and concrete prevail, admittedly to a high standard. Despite this I thoroughly recommend Iceland as a holiday destination.

1 comment:

Helge Helligsøe said...

Hi John
Beautiful pictures from Iceland - I must visit our old country one day and see it with my own eyes!

Best regards Helge (Denmark)