Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Niceland # 8 - Þingvellir

Þingvellir is in the southwestern part of Iceland, near the peninsula of Reykjanes and the Hengill volcanic area. Þingvellir is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland. It is the rift of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where the North American and European plates are opening, making the island coutnry larger from the middle. The site is also home to Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland and where the first Parliament or Alþingi was established in year 930.

The continental drift between the North American and Eurasian Plates can be clearly seen in the cracks or faults which traverse the region. The biggest is a veritable canyon. Smaller openings are full of clear water and are used as diving areas. Nikulásargjá, is better known as Peningagjá, coin fissure, is littered with coins at its bottom. Þingvellir is situated on the northern shore of Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake of Iceland. The river Öxará traverses the national park and forms a waterfall at the Almannagjá, called Öxarárfoss. On the lake's northern shore Silfra fissure is a popular dive and snorkel tour location. Together with the waterfall Gullfoss and the geysers of Haukadalur, Þingvellir is part of the most famous sights of Iceland, the Golden Circle.
Source (Davido69)
Þingvellir National Park was founded in 1930 to protect the site's historical, cultural, and geological importance. Þingvellir National Park was the first national park in Iceland and was decreed "a protected national shrine for all Icelanders, the perpetual property of the Icelandic nation under the preservation of parliament, never to be sold or mortgaged. Þingvellir is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Niceland # 7 - Grundarfjarðarbær

I went to the town of Grundarfjörður as a guest for the Northern Wave Film Festival. The town is located on the northern coast of Snæfellsness peninsula. The site is characterized by a unique climate and unusually beautiful surroundings. Half of the town's population is employed by the fishing industry. The physical characteristic of the surrounding area spans the entire geological history of Iceland. Volcanic activity affected the area18 million years ago. The volcano Rauðukúla í Helgrindum is about 3000 years old. Favorable natural conditions have encouraged the growth of the fishing sector with variety of species and easily navigated ocean terrain.

From Reykjavik central bus station, I boarded a small narrow bus headed towards the north east of Iceland. The bus was over crowded and I had to sit squished in the back with other foreign participants of the festival. Everyone remained quite until we stopped at a rest stop to switch busses. An even older bus pulled up to collect us. We loaded the bus with extra passengers, leaving some people to sit on the floor. Night fell early, as costume to the short period of winter light, and the weather outside became dangerous. On the small sand covered highway, which was our route to through Snaefellsness, the wind hit our narrow bus as if it was a sail, almost tipping us into the ocean on several occasions. The rain fell in sheets, blinding our bus driver and overloaded his windshield with water.

We arrived wet and very cold. The weather in the north is considerably worse, but it storm had passed when we arrived. The city was pitch black save for the few house lights. The community of film festival goers were beginning the night at a local bar up the street. I located my hostel on the edge of town and met with my bunk mates. The room had a total of three bunk beds, each with two rows of beds. I was the only woman to a room with five other men. Two of them were from Denmark, one was from Austria, one was an american born german, and the other a tall Icelandic gentlemen. The group moved our way through the biting cold to the bar down the street. The wind picked up, whipping our face with cold rain. The bar had musical entertainment by Markus, an man I had met earlier in September at the Reykjavik International Talent Campus. His music was a one man show of vocals and guitar. He was replaced by a heavy guitar punk bad who consumed the dance floor with a sewage spill of loud music.
The next morning the festival formally began with the international shorts line up. My film was among the films to screen as well as the Danes and the Austran's.