Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Zen like moments in the landscape, dramatic volcano scenery

Zen moments in the landscape, dramatic scenery of the volcano, bathing in hot springs, long ride across the countryside. Watching Wales lose to Portugal

We all woke early and got up at 6.30 ish. We had a small breakfast in the hut. After 20 mins driving we stopped and Kjartan told us to go and lie on the ground for 15 mins. I lay there and just experienced the world quietly. I heard water crashing, birds singing and insects buzzing. It was a beautiful Zen like moment to connect with the landscape and I shall do this again. The landscape was awesome and changed from the green grass in the lower part to black soil with huge glaciers and snow mounds. The contrast between the white snow, the black soil and the green around the rivers was the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen. It has an austere beauty. We stopped at a viewing point and the landscape became drier and more lifeless. The road had only just been opened after the winter closure and was a rough road traversing the south side of the mountain. We then descended to Landmannalauger where the hot springs bubble out and the rocks are multi coloured from the different compounds. This is big tourist attraction and there were many coaches there. We walked across the lava field to see a refuge hut. Then we stripped off Nordic style in public on a platform and bathed in the hot springs. The springs came over a couple of rocks. There were interesting temperature gradients to explore, the water was dangerously hot at the surface but cooled quite quickly, one could also finds vents leaking more hot water. We met a group of school kids from Cheshire bathing there.

We lunched beside a high cold blue glacial lake. We started biking from a visitors centre on the plain. I went to an Icelandic museum before joining the ride. The museum recreated a medieval manor house which had been preserved by volcanic ash in the twelfth century and rediscovered centuries later. The whole house was covered with turf as insulation. Inside was a large hall area where the 30 people who lived and worked there slept and eat and the Lord of the manor had his own sleeping area where he also no doubt had his women. The women had a back room where they wove, and did Icelandic knitting. There was a small diary and large communal lavatory area. The building had been recreated inside with wood and would have been improved by a few more possessions and implements. I was fascinated by the way the building and been preserved.

We had a medium length ride across the countryside with afternoon light on the green fields with three volcanoes on our left.

We were keen to support Wales in the euro championship and so had a rather fractured meal. Our hotel feels more like a BB in style and there are horses on the farm.

Good: the scenery in the national park

Bad: Wales losing the football

Surprising: the pleasure of lying meditating.

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