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Islands of the North Atlantic Trip report

Þingvellir National Park

Last Icelandic rural or wilderness visit for us on this trip. Þingvellir (that first part is pronounced “Thing”, not sure about the last part) is east and slightly north of Reykjavik. It’s a big national park, taking in a large lake and all of the space between the dropped floor of a rift valley. Arguably the rift valley: this is the bit that is separating as the American tectonic plate moves west and Europe moves east. Anyway, its got its own unique geography, and ecology and that would be interesting enough, but it also has some tremendous cultural and political history. Apparently the natural amphitheatre formed in front of one of the rift walls is where the first annual political congresses were held here abouts, to thrash out the laws of the land. This was circa 700, I believe. Soon after colonisation by the vikings, and before the arrival of Christianity, which also brought literacy with it, radically changing the role of the chief law-giver, who had previously been the person entrusted to rember all of the laws.

Anyway, we stood on the spot, and looked out over the valley, on what was once again a beautiful, clear, blue-sky day. Walked around the church and farm house that had been one of the early prime ministers’ holiday homes, for a time. Lovely spot.

We had a picnic lunch of sandwiches of the left-over haddock that I’d cooked the night before, which was also very nice. Haddock is a delicious fish. Probably describe it as like a very big whiting, to taste and texture. Haven’t seen one whole.

Then on we drove, into Reykjavik and to our apartment for a couple of nights. The road in has a big round-about every five hundred meters or so, which is fairly amusing to navigate in a big 4WD, but we made it. Did a quick walk through town to gather essentials and some take-away Chinese for dinner. Looks like a pretty interesting town, but we’re all too tired to go out and explore tonight. That will have to be tomorrow’s adventure.

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