Friday, September 18, 2015


18 September 2015

We had an amazing holiday in Iceland last week. We stayed in the centre of Reykjavik which is a small, pretty, modern town with a wonderful new concert hall ('Harpa') on the waterside. We went to three orchestral concerts there, including two performances by the visiting Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra with the virtuoso 'cellist David Geringas and a concert by the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra. This gave us the chance to hear some Icelandic classical music – the tuneful piece 'Eldur' composed by Jorunn Vidar in 1950 – alonsgide the Mozart 'Clarinet Concerto' and Schumann's 'Symphony No 1'. We also visited the Bio Paradis cinema in Reykjavik to watch an Icelandic film: 'Rams', directed by Grímur Hákonarson, tells the comic-tragic tale of two brothers, both sheep farmers on neighbouring plots of land in a remote valley, who haven't spoken to each other for 40 years. The film is beautifully shot, making good use of the bleak Icelandic landscape and the fascinating featureless face of the lead actor, Sigurdur Sigurjónsson, which reminded me of Wallace's dog Gromit (you can tell what he is thinking only from his eyes!). We took several trips out of Reykjavik to see some of the incredible Icelandic scenery, visiting the water spouts and bubbling hot springs at Geysir (from which all geysirs take their name), the impressive waterfalls at Gullfoss and the site of the world's first parliament at Thingvellir – lying on the join between the Eurasian and American tectonic plates which are moving apart at a rate of about 2 cm per year. We also set out to do some hiking in the Thorsmork national park (near the foot of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano that caused the infamous ash cloud in 2010). We knew that our special giant-wheeled four-wheel-drive bus was designed to tackle rough ground and to drive across rivers but we had envisaged something like a simple ford. As we entered the national park we soon realised that the bus was actually going to drive into the middle of some quite substantial fast-flowing rivers, dipping alarmingly forward into the water before straining to climb out the other side. When we reached the main Krossa river we were told that the conditions were too dangerous for our bus to attempt the crossing. Some of our fellow passengers, who were due to stay overnight in a hut in the national park, made the perilous river crossing crouching in the back on an open-topped truck while we continued to a new destination on the near side of the river. We then encountered another tour bus which had got completely stuck in the middle of a river and had to be towed out by our bus. Our plans for a hike were curtailed by these events but we eventually managed a short walk along a canyon near the river before making the scary journey back out of the national park as the weather worsened. It was an exciting day which took us into what could have been scenes in a science fiction film and emphasised the stunningly beautiful but potentially dangerous nature of the volcanic Icelandic wilderness.

You can see a selection of my photos of Iceland at:

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home