Sunday, 1 June 2014

Iceland 29: Hveragerdi

I started the day with a steaming hot bath - wonderful, and not a whiff of sulphur to be found (unusual for Iceland).  It was grey and raining, as predicted, so we had a leisurely breakfast and decided to potter around Hveragerdi for the morning.  The town was full of greenhouses, lit and heated by the abundant geothermal energy on tap.

We decided to go back to the Information Centre and earthquake "museum".  We duly paid our 200ISK each to go into the earthquake simulator, which was an amazing experience.  It was done in the dark and felt very realistic.  There were also still pictures from the event in 2008 and video footage from security cameras.  These were astonishing, with wine bottles leaping from shelves and people running for cover.  We then attempted to get into the "Bonus Pig", but it was closed until 11:00 so gave up.  Instead we went to the cut-price department store which, according to a guide book, was "an Aladdin's Cave which also offered free coffee".  In fact it was a rather seedy store full of what looked like seconds, damaged, bankrupt or just plain awful stock.

A quick look was all that was needed, and we soon headed to the bakery next door to pick up some sandwiches for lunch.  We'd hoped that it would have stopped raining by now, but unfortunately this was not the case.  Nevertheless we headed for the thermal spring area in the middle of the town for a look around.  Interesting, although less impressive than either the area around Myvatn or Geysir, but wonderfully free of people.

The following panorama give some idea of the size of the cracks in the ground, as I've carefully positioned Harriet for scale on the far right!

The hole pictured below is known as "the killer" because it swallowed, then gently poached, someone who was walking through the geothermal area at night after a heavy drinking session.  Not a nice way to go.

It's clear that the earth moves in Iceland, in more ways than one.  I'd no idea that vulvanic eruptions were quite that rare, though...

The boiling water was home to mosses and grasses, as well as mats of bacteria.

The only other family there were taking advantage of the "boil your own egg in the hot water" facility, which involved dangling the aforementioned oeuf in a muslin bag at the end of a long stick into a bubbling sulphurous hot spring.  I'm sure the eggs were very nice, but we decided to have a cup of coffee and a piece of cake instead.  Typical unadventurous Brits.

At this point, given the weather, we decided to head back into Reykjavik.  For the first time in a fortnight we were on "real" roads: i.e. dual carriageways with central reservations and proper junctions.  I for one did not welcome the thought of being back in "civilisation", and would much rather have been somewhere quieter.  I also find that there's something depressing about the day before going home after a particularly good holiday, and this was no exception.  Still, the scenery on the journey was pretty spectacular, even if the weather left a certain amount to be desired.

Next stop Reykjavik, where we dispose of our hire car and return to the awful hotel from day one.  This time it was even worse...