EDITOR’S NOTE: Burien resident Fred Feiertag’s column for The B-Town Blog will help you start your week every Monday. He will be sharing his observations, travel stories, wanderings and more…
Last week I went all cultural and hardly had time for some beautiful Iceland scenes. I will try to do better today.
Now that New Year’s is past and the slog of our version of a dark winter is upon us, I’ve started to plan my next expedition to my second favorite country. This train of thought has taken me to memories of my recent trip and some of the best scenery I have ever seen. So here will be a winter interlude with pictures.
I love to capture scenes to share. I have been correctly accused of taking too many pictures. On my recent trips I now believe I have not taken nearly enough. Some of the places I’ll show you are very well know icons of beautiful Iceland. Some of these are beautiful without being well known. In both cases I wish I had taken many more views. I will happily return to these places to do that. Let’s start with one of the iconic scenes.
Kirkjufell looks like a steep cone and that view adds to the dramatic feel of this scene. Much to my surprise it isn’t a cone. It is the end of a ridge. Here is a view as we approached the scene above.
This is Kirkjufell, or Church mountain if translated from Icelandic. One of the most photographed places in Iceland. The waterfall is named Kirkjufellsfoss, meaning church mountain falls, not surprising. The sea water in the background is part of the Bjerdha fjord off the Denmark Strait.
Beside Kirkjufell mountain is the fishing village of Grundarfjörður with their small fish processing plant. This little town is fairly isolated being at least a two-hour drive from Reykjavik in good weather. Winter storms close the roads and leave the folks here with their sturdy constitutions to cope with the isolation. Before I leave the topic of Kirkjufell I should mention that the mountain had a role in the strangely popular television series Game of Thrones. Iceland provides backdrops for many television productions. Movie making is a growing industry for the island.
Another iconic vista is the black church of Búðakirkja. There are many isolated churches in the Icelandic countryside. The older ones have become precious as modern times tend to consume them. This example sits near the base of the Snæfellsjökull volcano. It is also close to a tall lava cliff dropping into the frigid North Atlantic Ocean. It is built on and surrounded by plains of lava erupted a few centuries ago and there is hardly a tree or shrub for miles.
It was quite a surprise that when arriving we found a wedding party! They had a reception spread set out next to the tiny cemetery. Much gaiety was to be seen. Iceland never disappoints.
Towering above the lava plains where the Black Church can be found is Mount Snæfellsnes. It looks so rugged and imposing, making a fine view when the clouds cooperate. I was lucky to get a few moody aspects to take with me. Of course everything you can see here except the ice and snow is volcanic lava erupted by a family of volcanoes with Snæfellsjökull presiding. At 700,000 years old, this is one of the oldest volcanoes in Iceland.
Just a few miles from the big volcano across the lava plain is a very sharp edge of the ocean. Although my visit was in the early winter this line of cliffs is a very popular place to view the abundant wild birds so iconic in Iceland. Here are some of the wonderful places I visited:
Here is the shore near Arnarstapi. The pinnacles are all that remains of a small volcano dead and eroded by centuries of surf.
These pictures are typical of the lava cliffs all along the south shore of the peninsula. The white spots on the cliffs are nesting places for the sea birds. During the early summer there are far more and they cover much of the cliff. This is all bird droppings and I was told the view is rather smelly during a warm summer day. The is a good place to see the favorite bird of the tourists, the Atlantic Puffin. Puffins are also a favorite of the native Icelandic population. However they prefer to see their favorite bird on the menu of special meals!
To end this wandering is this nice picture of Puffins in the wild on the cliffs where they breed. Their story could make a column all by itself. I’ll do that after I go back and meet them myself.