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The Earth Is Angry: Hverir and Grjótagjá

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Like an irritable old codger fed up with the neighbor kids trampling his flower bed, the Earth has posted “No Trespassing” signs all over Iceland. “Nothing says Stay Away better than a hissing pool of mud,” reasons the Earth. “And what’s more, I’ll make it stink of sulfur!” Makes sense, but what do we humans do? We turn it into a tourist attraction! Man, are we annoying.

Hverir Hot Springs

The Earth is at its boiling, steaming worst in the Hverir geothermal area. Pools of bubbling mud, strange rock piles like mini-volcanoes relentlessly belching steam, and a nearly unbearable stink of sulfur… just the kind of place we humans love! What’s wrong with us? Why should busloads of tourists seek out this seething little park near Mývatn?

It must be the novelty. Places like Hverir aren’t going to bring us to tears with their glorious beauty, but it’s fun to see another, darker side of our planet. And I suppose there’s a kind of beauty to be found here as well.

Grjótagjá Hot Springs

Nearby Hverir is Grjótagjá: another spot where the Earth once had a rage fit. Grjótagjá. The name even sounds like a growl. Here, the crust has simply cracked in two, creating a long, jagged fissure into which pools of geothermally-heated water have collected. Years ago, these cave pools were popular spot for bathing Icelanders, but after a series of eruptions that ended in 1984, the water became too hot.

Earth: “Growl, grumble, grjótagjá… Earth ANGRY!” [Cracks the crust]
Humans: “Oh hey, look everyone, a new swimming pool! Thank you, Earth!” [Jumps in pool]
Earth: “I said leave me alone!” [Erupts volcanoes]

We spend our whole existence polluting it, ripping up its forests, killing its atmosphere and dumping our garbage into its oceans… it can’t be any surprise that the Earth wants a little space to itself. A place free of our annoying and destructive behavior. But do we get the hint? Sorry, Earth, you’re just too fascinating to leave alone, even when you’re angry. Maybe especially then.

Locations on our Iceland Map: Hverir | Grjótagjá

Dimmuborgir Guesthouse

More Pics from the Hverir Hot Springs
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More Pics from the Grjótagjá Fissure
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October 25, 2013 at 5:25 pm Comment (1)

The 871±2 Settlement Exhibition

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Iceland welcomed its first permanent resident in the 9th century, when Ingólfur Arnarson landed on the shores of Reykjavík. Today, most physical traces of early Viking culture have vanished, so it was a big deal when, in 2001, a longhouse was discovered in the center of the capital. After careful excavation, it’s been opened to visitors as the the 871±2 Settlement Exhibition.

Settlement Exhibition Reykjavik

The strange name of the exhibition refers to the year the discovered settlement has been dated to, plus or minus the two-year range of error. And since Ingólfur was thought to have arrived in 874, it’s safe to say that the remains found on Aðalstræti are among the very earliest traces of humanity anywhere in Iceland.

Apart from the longhouse itself, there isn’t a whole lot to see within the exhibition; just artifacts found around the grounds like an axe handle or a flint stone. But the house itself is interesting and there’s an incredible amount of information about the settlement era. It can be rewarding for those who don’t mind taking time to read. The exhibition is fairly high-tech, with multimedia exhibits recreating life in the era, and interactive programs that illuminate early Icelandic language and culture.

The Settlement Exhibition is perfect for a rainy day in Reykjavík, when you have time to kill and are in the mood for some history. A comprehensive visit takes about an hour, and provides a nice overview of the Vikings who settled Iceland.

Location our Iceland Map
The Settlement Exhibition – Website

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Long House Reykjavik
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August 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm Comments (0)
The Earth Is Angry: Hverir and Grjtagj Like an irritable old codger fed up with the neighbor kids trampling his flower bed, the Earth has posted "No Trespassing" signs all over Iceland. "Nothing says Stay Away better than a hissing pool of mud," reasons the Earth. "And what's more, I'll make it stink of sulfur!" Makes sense, but what do we humans do? We turn it into a tourist attraction! Man, are we annoying.
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