So, after three solid days of tours, I finally have a less solidly booked day, and hopefully I can recall all the cool info I wish to impart of fearless readers!
Our two day tour had a geologist, which means we got the factually correct answer to many questions that had otherwise been poorly answered for others, on other tours. For example:
Why are the mountains flat? In most cases, because they were formed from lava flows, and like water, lava is a liquid, and forms a flat surface
Was Iceland always treeless? There’s varying answers, but it tends to be that there was trees when Vikings landed, and they called it Iceland to discourage others from visiting (and misdirecting them to the not so green Greenland. In any case, there’s a now lame jokes about forests… A small copse of trees: a forest! Also, if you’re lost in a forest in Iceland, what do you do? Stand up.
Breakfasts: boiled eggs are always cold. Pickled herring is common. Cheese and sliced meats are too. Liquid/pourable yogurt and Skyr is also popular
Our Scottish guide Holly Spice (what a name right?) was awesome. Great sense of humour, calling everything ‘the best in Iceland’ or the ‘best in the world’ with her tongue seriously in cheek! Her excitement was infectious – we drove through lava fields and she was just so bubbly and using the microphone to explain the changes in different fields!
Hot water: in Reykjavik, they pipe geothermally heated water to homes, so you have hot, then add cold (backward imo). Sadly, this doesn’t extend to the 120k people who live more remotely, so their electricity is subsidised to cover the costs of electric heating water. Nevertheless, 98% of electricity is renewable, so… it’s still good.
Geothermal water is OK to drink, but doesn’t taste great. It also has a smell, and I have noticed it in some showers. River water is fresh as you’ll get (ie I asked at one water fall’s food truck to refill my bottle – they only had boiling water, and not running cold water, so advised me to refill in the waterfall’s stream!). The glacial water is NOT for drinking, which you notice when you see it stagnate, and it’s a milky colour.
Glaciers: So glaciers are the formation of solid ice after the weight of compacted snow. They get so heavy, they push out the oxygen, which results in the blue tinge you see. The glaciers move – not the ice bergs, but the larger mass. They move over the earth, and so they crack and heave and move over obstacles. The glacier guide says week on week you see the differences in where ice forms have moved. In some cases you end up with moraines (French word, they were some of the initial glacial experts) which I think are mountains or ridges formed by the soil and debris being pushed aside. They often are at the ‘front’ of the glacier’s advance.
The wind got so intense on our drive back from the South Coast that we saw (but I didn’t photograph) water falls that were blowing UP! As in, wind was stronger than gravity pulling them down. It was mind blowing.
Farm animals: Iceland is known for their horses, which are small in stature, but mustn’t be called ponies! They graze outside year round. Cows and Sheep are brought into stables for the winter, and released for the short summer. We saw SO many lambs… so maybe that can be a sign it’s Spring, as the weather has been pretty brisk for a spring!