Monday, August 14, 2006

Iceland Pt. 3 (Finale)

On August 6th we went to Skógasafn, the Skógar Folk Museum. The entire collection was put together by 80-something year old Þórður Tómasson, who began collecting when he was just 14. It's considered one of the best museums in the country, and we met Þórður, who played hymns for us on the old church organ in the church there, and demonstrated how to use a spindle to make wool thread. Then we went to Skógafoss, Skógar's resident waterfall. Legend has it that a settler hid a chest of treasure behind the falls, but no-one has ever been able to find it. We took in one more waterfall (I don't remember the name) before heading home, but this one was cool because there was a path to walk behind the falls.

On August 9th we just rehearsed for our Reykholt concert, and then spent the evening at the Blue Lagoon. It's considered Iceland's most famous tourist attractiong, and is hidden in the middle of a lava field between Keflavík and Grindavík. It owes it's existance to the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant, which is powered by superheated sea water drawn from deep bore holes in the lava. After the steam passes through the turbines, huge condensors convert it back into water, which is pumped directly into the lava field. The minerals in the field naturally filter the water and return it to the sea. But the power plant pumps more water into the lava field than can be filtered underground, and where it pools above ground is the Blue Lagoon. The milky blue water is rich in blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), mineral salts, and fine slica mud that conditions and exfoliate your skin. Just swimming in it is good for your skin, and they also have silica stations where there are buckets of silica mud scraped from the bottom of the lagoon that you put on your face (or anywhere else you want). It sits in the middle of a black lava field, with sheets of steam rising off the blue water – very surreal. They've developed it alot recently, adding a restaurant, gift shop, and spa, but Ingunn says that when she came as a kid all they had was a wooden shack and a hose to wash themselves with.

August 10th was our concert in Reykholt, reknowned as the home of Snorri Sturluson, one of the great saga writers. They have a very interesting display on Snorri and the sagas in the basement of Reykholtskirka. It's also home to Snorralaug (Snorri's pool), a circular, stone-lined pool about 4 metres in diameter, fed by a hot spring. It looks like a little stone jacuzzi and is thought to have been built by Snorri Sturluson. Behing the pool is a passage believed to lead to the cellar where Snorri was murdered in 1241 by Gíssur Þorvaldsson. Our concert in Reykholt went well, and there were even a few random Canadians in the audience – a couple from Vancouver, and an Icelandic-Canadian guy from around Gimli. Today was also the day we found out about the new terrorist bust, and the new restrictions of carry-on. Panic!

Our flight was scheduled for 4:30 pm on the 11th, and Ingunn's mom spent the entire morning on the phone haggling with the airline, and our saviour Gunnar Snorri came through at the 11th hour. He pulled a bunch of strings and got permission for us – which ended up slightly unneeded, but better safe than sorry. After all the worry, and everybody (including the airline) telling us that we weren't allowed carry-on, turns out everyone had carry-on and they were only restricitng liquids and gels. Even in Minneapolis they didn't say boo to me except to remind me not to bring any liquid on. Well, live and learn. And don't believe anything the media or the airline tells you.

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