May 31, 2007

AWC Hike - Seven Sisters

We took the train to Eastbourne and started our "undulating" hike to Seaford. Eastbourne is a very elegant seaside town to which I want to return. The Seven Sisters are a series of chalk cliffs that form part of the South Downs in East Sussex. The weather was so glorious that I got sunburned. We made a short stop in Birling Gap on National Trust property which also has a small hotel. We finally ended in Seaford. We took the bus to Brighton and the train home.

May 26, 2007

HR Hike - Sunningdale Circular

The Hammersmith Ramblers led a "Sunningdale Circular" hike through Great Windsor Park. The crows at the visitor centre were quite brazen. We did not pay to go into the gardens but the rhododendrons (and other plants) outside were spectacular.

May 22, 2007

Iceland - Reykjavik - Perlan Saga Museum

We spent the afternoon at the Saga Museum which is in the Perlan Centre with fabulous views of Reykjavik. As you walk through the Saga Museum, you stop at "stations" where lifelike figures recount the Viking history of Iceland. We learned that Ingolfur Arnarson and his wife Hallveig Frodadottir sailed from Norway to settle in Iceland in 874 AD. Life was (and still can be) harsh. Since we could not take pictures in the museum, we took pictures in (including indoor geyser) and around the Perlan Centre. As we walked home, we took a few more pictures of outdoor sculpture.

One final note on Iceland. Iceland is a land of spectacular natural beauty but it is not cheap! We paid $65 for 2 large takeaway pizzas, $20 for a hamburger, coke, and fries. The joke here is that Icelanders go to London for a cheap vacation. You have been warned!

Iceland - Reykjavik Town and Churches

The Hallgrímskirkja (named after Icelandic poet Hallgrimur Petursson) church is one of the tallest and most dramatic buildings in Iceland. The very large organ (5275 pipes) was also impressive.

The older, official "parish church" of Reykjavik is of a simpler design but pretty in its own way.

We spent the rest of the morning taking pictures of anything that looked interesting - below is a small sampling:

May 21, 2007

Iceland - Þingvellir

Þingvellir ("parliament plains) is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because one of the oldest parliamentary institutions of the world (Alþingi ) was established here in 930. We thought it was a beautiful place to walk and take pictures.

Iceland - Gulfoss

Gullfoss (Golden Falls) is part of the famous Golden Circle tourist route and one of our favorite picture spots.

Iceland - Geysir and Strokkur

Geysir is the oldest known geyser. Eruptions at Geysir (up to 60 metres) are spectacular but infrequent. In the past, eruptions have stopped for years at a time and authorized government geologists have been known to force an eruption on the Icelandic National Day.

Strokkur is only a few metres away from Geysir but erupts (up to 20 metres) very reliably every 5-10 minutes.

Iceland - Vik

Vik, with a population of 300, is also the wettest village in all of Iceland. Per wikipedia, Vik also lies directly downstream from the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which itself is on top of the Katla volcano. If (and very likely when) Katla erupts, it is likely that the glacial run-off obliterate everything in the village except for the church which sits on the hill. Thus, the village of Vik has periodic volcanic drills to practice getting to the church at the first sign of an eruption.

The black basalt columns are called Reynisdrangar

In the Vik gift store, we could watch Icelandic clothing manufacturing in progress.

Iceland - Animals

Icelandic horses (NOT ponies) - It is a major faux-pas to refer to Icelandic horses as "ponies" but it is OK to acknowledge that they are very cute.

Icelandic sheep - The inner fibres are fine, soft, and highly insulating. The outer fibres are long, glossy, and water-repellent. Icelandic literature claims that Icelandic sheep have been isolated from other breeds for over a thousand years and therefore they are one of the purest breeds in the western world.

We saw reindeer just as we drove away from Jokulsarlon.