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Saturday 9 October 1999

We rose a bit late again today and set out to see two things: the waterfall Gullfoss and the geyser Strokkur. On the way out we saw a volcanic crater called Keriđ. From below it looked much like Grábrók, and we almost blew it off. We were surprised to see a pretty turquoise pool at the bottom of it.

A fierce wind roared across the plain above the gorge of Gullfoss. It was a struggle to walk against it, and I imagine that somewhere there is a troll examining with great interest the zip-lock bag I inadvertently sent flying across the fields. The falls were magnificent, two tiers at right angles dropping into a narrow gorge, but I found them difficult to photograph. I doubt I did them justice.

As we were getting ready to leave, a bus arrived with police escort. Knowing that Hillary Clinton was in town for a “Women in Democracy” conference, we rushed back down the 105 steps to see if it were she. It weren’t. We later found out she’d been there perhaps five or ten minutes ahead of us.

Next was Strokkur. (Hillary beat us there by half an hour.) It goes off at irregular but fairly frequent intervals. It’ll spend five or ten or fifteen minutes burbling and swelling and receding; then the pool swells up in a large blue bubble before bursting in a sixty- to eighty-foot spray. Then it will explode once or twice more in the next minute or two, not so high, draining down its round hole in the rock like a huge toilet after each surge, before settling down to another ten minutes of burbling. We stood, fascinated, and watched a dozen eruptions.

The one other place we thought to visit on the way back to Reykjavík was Ţingvellir, site of the world’s oldest parliament. But darkness was falling, and as we drove past the lake near which it stands, we settled for a few pictures of the china-blue twilight. There’s something for the next trip. We had dinner at Kaffi Brennslan again, chatting with Lalli, the bartender. Shortly we must make our way up Laugavegur, past the kids doing the Icelandic Crawl, to our guesthouse. Tomorrow I must rise early to catch my flight to Glasgow; Win’s flight is late in the afternoon. I am nostalgic already. We must return.


A view of tin-roofed houses from the tower of Hallgrimskirkja, on the highest point of Reykjavik. (2001)

This church in the eastern end of Reykjavik reminded me of a Scottish distillery. (2001)

The cinder cone Keriđ. Anyone for a dip?


The mist from Gullfoss froze on the grass.


The geyser...




On the road back to Reykjavik.

Orthographical note: The Icelandic letter đ (upper case Đ) is pronounced as a voiced th, as in "bathe". It is often transcribed in English as "d", which I think is totally bogus. The letter ţ (upper case Ţ) is pronounced as an unvoiced th, as in "thick", and is usually transcribed as "th", which is just peachy.

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