Friday, May 28, 1999 3:40 PM
part 15

Back to the tour: Þingvellir is the site of not only Iceland's first parliament, but the world's oldest existing parliament. The Álþing met there each year to enact laws, including the one that introduced Christianity to Iceland.

Nearby is Drekkingarhylur (The Drowning Pool) where mothers of illegitimate children were drowned. Times have certainly changed. :-) Single mothers are now very common here and accepted without reservation.

Peningagja (The Money Chasm) is a fissure filled with crystal clear water, and into which people throw coins. The reflections caused by the coins is most unusual. One would certainly be richly (and probably briefly, if caught) rewarded if one were to go diving there.

There is a hotel there called Valhalla, though it's probably not as good as the legends suggest, especially since it's only open during the summer months.

I read an account of someone else's trip to Geysir, which claimed that Geysir is active now only if provoked... how does one provoke a geysir, anyway?

It was a shame that, when we made the trip to Gullfoss, the ground was still covered in snow, because I still haven't cut any treads into my boots (I have acquired the Icelandic habit of doing things at the last possible moment, if not even later. Fortunately, though, only my boots have been affected by that), so I couldn't go down to the falls themselves, since I would have not been able to get back up. :-)

I found a lighthouse during one of my walks. I was told that it exists "over there" (vague hand gesture in the general direction of the rest of the world), so I was not intending to find it. Instead, I chose the road that runs by the sea (whose name is, strangely enough, "Sea pathway"), and walked to the end of it in one direction, being about 7 or 8 kilometres, as opposed to the other direction being somewhat further.

When I arrived, the tide was out but coming in, though that did not concern me at the time. I reached the lighthouse... but it was closed. I found out afterwards that it is always closed. Bummer. There are tales that the lighthouse is haunted and that people who get caught on the peninsula by the tide are never seen again. Cool.

Only a few minutes passed before I remembered a very useful rule: never underestimate the speed of the tide and, sure enough, as I started to head back, I saw that the beach had disappeared and the water was knee-deep. I managed to make it back by climbing over the rocks, with only a foot wet, but shredded fingers from the barnacles. At least I didn't fall in. I was glad that I had worn shoes on that day, because within several minutes, even the rocks had disappeared under water! The next day my black boot had turned white from the sea salt. It hasn't been the same since. When I visit the lighthouse again, I'll have to dip the other boot to restore balance and harmony in the universe and make the boots different in the same way. :-)

I have seen the northern lights, and not even realised at the time that that's what they were, because lightwash from the city of Reykjavík reduced to a mere smudge of light what might have been a spectacular vision of colour and pattern. I wasn't impressed.

Bare feet stop traffic! Not exactly, but close enough. The sight of my bare feet certainly did interest the drivers who could see me, even after the traffic had begun to move again. Now that the days are becoming longer, it happens that more people see me without shoes (when it was dark before, it was merely harder to see). No-one has commented so far though. I suppose that many of them recognise me by now. ;-)

One of the guys here brought two boxes of icecreams, for no particular reason. Work stopped as we descended on them like a horde of locusts. An outside observer might think that we do not eat at home.

Something that I hadn't noticed during the last summer: not only do the nights become shorter, but they become less dark at the same time. It is not merely that the sun is visible for more hours during the day than before, but it is, in addition, not hidden by the horizon anymore.

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