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This quite simply, is a fascinating land. The day we docked after 4 days at sea, it had snowed the day before so the dock crew was busy sweeping and preparing paths in the snow. ( April 26th )
Stepping off the ship one gets an immediate feeling that you are on "Icelandic Time" which is much more relaxed. The port is only a short distance from the town center ( 3 miles ) but it took us over 2 hours to get there. The shuttle and bus transportation was not the best. We were the first cruise ship of the season so perhaps they were not geared up.
The currency in Iceland is called ISK. You have no sense what anything costs and only after returning to Alaska and inspecting my credit card bill did I realize there are very few bargains in Iceland.
The entire culture is unique. Iceland is where the Democratic Republic we have come to know formed over 1,000 years ago. Today, it is socialist in nature. The citizens pay substantial taxes to the government but they take pride in free education and healthcare.
A vast amount of Iceland looks very similar to Alaska with lots of lava beds. There are active thermal areas throughout the country where you can experience a vast array of thermal activity to include active geysers.
All of Iceland seems to be a social experiment. Years ago the government encouraged the farmers to dig trenches throughout the landscapes there in order to turn the wetlands into productive fields for planting crops. They were paid handsomely to dig these trenches which are everywhere. Subsequently, the government discovered getting rid of the wetlands had a severe, detrimental effect on many bird species throughtout the entire island nation so the government instituted another program to pay farmers to cover the trenches they were paid to create. Typical experience of government social engineering at it's best!!
The horses of Iceland are a unique breed found only in Iceland.
They are somewhere between a full grown horse and a shetland pony. They have a unique ability to display 5 sets of distinct steps which is more than any other horse breed. The entire population of horses are protected as they had imports of other horse breeds in the past which devastated the Islandic Horses through diseases so now all imports are banned and if an Icelandic horse is exported, they can never return back to Iceland. They become a horse without a country.
And, BTW Iceland has no mosquitos!!
Following are photographic images of Reykjavik and the surrounding countryside. Within Reykjavik, there were sculptures and statues everywhere. Very artistic and architectually conscious.
We took an excursion which is called the Golden Circle Tour.
And then, into the countryside...
This is the Great Rift which is where two great tectonic plates collided thousands of years ago. This a major development why Iceland is volcanic in nature as this rift runs the course of Iceland. On this spot over 1,000 years ago the inhabitants of Iceland came together and formed to first parliment the world had known. The vast majority were Vikings and the descendants of Vikings and Norsemen.
Here you can see two examples of working with the existing climate to create farmland. There are extensive rows of trees throughout the rural areas to prevent wind erosion and in the forground, you can see one of the tens of thousands of trenches which the government paid farmers to dig in order to drain the extensive wetlands and promote a farming industry.
Iceland is filled with countless waterfalls. Many due to the great rift which runs through the country. This is a magnificent example.
Thermal beds are everywhere in Iceland. Many of the houses are heated using this natural gift.
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