Reykjanes - The Bridge between two continents.
Reykjanes peninsula lies on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and here you can see the ridge above ground. The best-known place for that is Þingvellir national park though, but a visit to Reykjanes is well worth it to see the ridge.
A bridge has been built on the ridge and is called The Bridge between two Continents or "Brúin á milli tveggja heimsálfa" in Icelandic. It is also called Leif the Lucky Bridge.
The bridge was built as a symbol for the connection between Europe and North-America and I remember how we Icelanders used to scoff at this idea, but it has turned into a very popular spot here in Reykjanes.
On one side of the bridge are the Eurasian tectonic plates and on the other side of the bridge are the North American tectonic plates.
There is easy access to the bridge and it is right by the road, with a parking lot and information signs. In the middle of the bridge is a sign saying "Miðlína - In the footsteps of the Gods - midline". And on one side is "welcome to Europe" and on the other side is "Welcome to America" :)
You will see that some people have written their names in stones on the bottom of the bridge. And soon people started hanging love locks on the bridge. People were even talking about the Love Bridge between two continents :( More and more love locks appeared and the keys were buried in the sand beneath the bridge. The love locks were getting so many that they were removed in September 2015.
You can get a certificate at the Reykjanes Information Center that you have walked between two continents :D
The mud pools at Seltún - Seltúnshverir.
Seltùnshverir geothermal area is the main mud pool area (solfataras) in Krýsuvík. Like all these geothermal areas in Iceland Seltùn is amazing.
The colours here are just out of this world, you will see different nuances of red, grey, yellow, white, silver, brown - all in one area - with steam coming up from all over the place. And mud pools boiling and simmering in all directions.
This area is relatively big and there are wooden paths and view platforms, so one can walk straight through the area and up to the view platform to get a fantastic look over this multi-coloured area. One just has to visit to see it, there is no describing what nature is offering here.
There is a parking lot here and from here there are hikes up to the mountains in this area.
Take care as the sulphur is poisonous, and one can get a nasty headache and nausea if too much of it is inhaled. There used to be sulphur mines here until 1880 as sulphur was a popular commodity in the 13th century and onwards.
Also a word of caution, step carefully here, the pathways are narrow and you walk over this boiling area and I always feel that if I were to slide I would have my foot in a mud pool!
The heat here is 80-100 degrees C, so let us keep to the market trails and pathways.
There are guided tours to Seltùn.
Stafnesviti light-house and the accident at sea
Just behind our International Airport, Keflavíkurflugvöllur, Stafnes is located. There is a yellow orange light-house there - my photos came out kind of weird as the shade on the light-house makes one side of it look totally yellow, but the other side is orange. This light-house was built in 1925.
There was a terrible accident at sea here on the 27th of February 1928, when the first trawler built for Icelanders, Jón forseti, stranded on Stafnes right by Stafnesviti light-house. There were difficult rescue operations in awful weather and 10 men were saved, but 15 drowned. This is so sad and I could not read the detailed description of the rescue operations without crying :(
This particular spot is the most dangerous stranding site on the whole south-west coast. The surf here is awful and the reef is so far from the shore.
There is a monument on this accident by the road before you reach the light-house. 4 months later "Slysavarnarfélag Íslands" or the Life Saving Association was established.
Right by the light-house we found a dead, stranded whale and the stench was awful. From time to time we come across dead whales here or even dead sharks.
Hvalsneskirkja church is in Reykjanes, close to Sandgerði town. When I visited there was a funeral, so I have no photos of inside the church, but I added an excellent link with a periscope of inside the church.
I visited it again in 2014, but it is closed like almost all the churches around Iceland. One has to get the key from the farmer and if the farmer is not at home there is not visiting these churches.
Hvalsneskirkja is such a beautiful little church, made of stone, but most of the churches here in Iceland, the older ones, are made of timber. It was consecrated in 1887. But there are records of a church here in 1200. The church is conserved.
One of the most remarkable things in the church is a tombstone from 1649.
Beautiful lava formations and Eldey island
There are beautiful rock formations by Valahnjúkur and the shore there is rocky and black lava has flown all the way to the ocean, quite amazing.
Just outside the shore there is a pillar of rock called Karl - 51 m high.
Fourteen km off the shore there is Eldey island, home to one of the largest gannet colonies in the world - 16.000 pairs nest here. You will see it in the distance from the shore by Valahnjúkur. It is 77 m high. The island is reserved and it is forbidden to visit it without a permit from the government ;)
In Eldey island the last great auks in the world were killed in 1844 :( Here is a webcam from Eldey island.
Gunnuhver mud pool after the change.
In September 2014 a new mud clay geysir got created by Gunnuhver, Iceland´s largest mud-pool. There were some strange things happening and Gunnuhver had to be closed for a couple of days.
I visited Gunnuhver in October 2014 and saw the changes.
Two ramps are by Gunnuhver, which is a group of mud pools. One leads to Gunnuhver and the other one is located at Kísilhóll, which is a silica hill. I saw the changes at Kísilhóll. I can tell you that I would not want to have been here when the new mud pools opened up and sprouted mud up in the air.
As you can see from my photos then you get completely covered in the steam from the mud pools. I don´t like it, I am cautious around these mud pools and don´t like when I get enveloped in steam, but it is for sure an experience for foreign guests, who are maybe experiencing this for the first time.
Gunnuhver - Iceland´s largest mud pool.
I have made a special page on Grindavík village, but to get to Gunnuhver geothermal area you will have to drive to Grindavík. Coming from Reykjavík on road 41 take a left turn on road 43 leading to The Blue Lagoon and Grindavík. From Grindavík take road 425 which takes you along the shore towards the geothermal area. The road is paved to Reykjanesvirkjun power plant, but from there on it is a soso paved road leading to Gunnuhver. Turn left almost at the end of the road. I know, difficult and lengthy road-directions ;)
The geothermal area here is one of many on Reykjanes with Gunnuhver being the best known hot spring. There is a folktale that the ghost of a woman called Guðrún (Gunna for short) had made problems in this area, allegedly killing a man after her death, and a minister named Eiríkur from Vogsósum in Selvogur helped to send the ghost of Guðrún into the hot spring - thus the name Gunnuhver. This happened ca 400 years ago. So now you know it, there is a ghost in Gunnuhver!
Gunnuhver is ca 20 meters wide and is Iceland´s largest mud pool.
There are new wooden paths and railings with view-platforms by the hot springs, but all the same this is a dangerous area, so be cautious while walking here. Also the sulphurous fumes can give one headache and nausea if one is exposed to them for too long. This geothermal area isn't that big though, but in windy weather one gets kind of lost in the fumes and doesn't see where to go. This area was closed off by the civil defence for 2 years when there was increased activity in this geothermal area and opened again in 2010.
In September 2014 a new mud clay geysir got created by Gunnuhver. There were some strange things happening and Gunnuhver had to be closed for a couple of days. I add a video of the new mud clay geysir.
The statue of the great auk by Valahnúkur.
There is a big bronze statue of a great auk by Valahnjúkur in Reykjanes, which was erected there in 2010 and created by the American artist Todd McGrain. This statue is part of the artist´s art project "The Last Bird Project" consisting of 5 distinct bird species.
The last 2 great auks were killed in Iceland by Eldey on the 3rd of June 1844 and the statue stands on shore right opposite Eldey, which can be see from the shore.
The statue is 157 cm tall where as the bird was smaller or ca 70 cm tall. The statue was made from a cast of a stuffed bird owned by the Museum of National History in Iceland "Náttúrugripasafn Íslands.
There is another statue of a great auk in Skerjafjörður in the southern part of Reykjavík. That statue was created by the female artist Ólöf Nordal in 1998. When the statue by Valahnúkur was erected there was a lot of controversy and the female artist wanted this statue removed, claiming that it was an imitation of her statue. The statue in Skerjafjörður is made of aluminium and is 100 cm high.
I am in favour of having this statue here by Valahnúkur, being a huge statue lover and I think statues only add to the mystery of nature. And there are such good photo opportunities by these statues. I always seek such statues out.
Reykjanes - Garðskagaviti lighthouses.
There are two lighthouses in Garðskagi on Reykjanes. The smaller lighthouse was raised on the edge of Garðskagi peninsula in 1897 and is 12,5 meters high and was thought to be especially good in fog. Earlier, or in 1884, a cairn was raised there with lantern on top.
The bigger lighthouse was built in 1944 and is the highest lighthouse in Iceland, 28,6 meters high. The reason for another lighthouse being built was that the ocean was eroding more and more off the shore, and when the old lighthouse was built it was 100 meters up on land. It is now on a reef in the ocean. In 1912 a bridge was made from land to the lighthouse as the land erosion was so massive. The lighthouse-keeper sometimes got stranded in the lighthouse, when the ocean was rough. The new lighthouse was put further up away from the ocean.
Both the lighthouses have been closed when I have been visiting, and the smaller lighthouse is now preserved. The bigger lighthouse is still called the new lighthouse - 70 years after it was built :)
This is a very popular place here in Iceland and between the two lighthouses there is a camping place. The shore here is white, which is rare for this area and only in a few places in the West of Iceland can one see white beaches. And the view here is so beautiful.
There is a District museum next to the lighthouse and in front of it are two ships on display and it is possible to go onboard even when the museum is not open.
There is also a restaurant here and a gallery (see my tip on the gallery). But this area is also a good picnic area. And a very popular place amongst bird-watchers.
There is a town here called Garður with 1.477 inhabitans.
The International Icelandic airport.
Our international airport, Keflavíkurflugvöllur aiport, is called Flugstöð Leifs Eiríkssonar, or Leifsstöð. It is located in Reykjanes, just a couple of km away from Keflavík town. It opened in 1987 and has been expanding since then. During the summer months ca 300.000 passengers travel through the airport, which is the same amount of people as the whole population of Iceland.
Buses go regularly to and from the airport to Reykjavík. They stop in front of the arrival and departure terminals, where there are also taxis available. There is a big parking lot west of the airport where we most often leave the car while travelling abroad as it is relatively inexpensive.
There are plenty of shops and restaurants at the airport (on a small scale of course) and a good duty free store on arrival, which is used a lot by us locals as here in Iceland there is a State monopoly on alcohol and cigarettes.
There are no conveyor belts in the airport, but it is relatively small, so maybe they are not needed here. But even though the airport is small it was voted the best airport in Europe in 2009.
A lot of air-planes going to and coming from America land here to take fuel. But our Icelandic airlines are Icelandair and Iceland Express.
When I was younger the airport used to be located inside the NATO base, so we had to go through the check-points to reach the airport. And it looked like a small domestic airport, so there is a big difference in the way it was before 1987 and what it is like now.
Reykjanes - Valahnjúkur.
The area by Reykjanesviti lighthouse and Valahnjúkur is extraordinary.
Valahnjúkur is a beautiful rock precipice. There is a very easy walk up to the top of Valahnjúkur, and it looks so amazing - it is like the earth just raised on one side as Valahnjúkur is covered in grass all the way up. There is a warning sign that you can fall off the cliff - you will see why once you reach the top. There is no looking down there without lying down and grabbing onto the earth.
The old shack by Valahnjúkur used to belong to the old light-house before it was moved.
Too bad the sun was in the "wrong" place for taking good photos.
This area is so worth visiting - it is amazing.
A very strange rock formation.
Just west of The Bridge between two continents there is a very strange rock formation, it is quite amazing and I don´t understand how it doesn´t fall down.
I will add more information about these rocks if ever I happen to come across them, but until then here are photos of this strange phenomenon.
Njarðvík town in Reykjanes peninsula.
Njarðvík town is divided into Ytri-Njarðvík and Innri-Njarðvík or outer and inner Njarðvík. Njarðvík merged with Keflavík and Hafnir in 1995 and is now called Reykjanesbær town. We never call it that though, we always refer to the towns by their name. Together with Keflavík there are ca 14.100 inhabitants here.
There is a lovely stone church in Innri-Njarðvík built in 1886.
By the church is the Monument for sea-men and a little further on a statue in remembrance of Jón Þorsteinsson, who was headmaster at Skálholt, the seat of the bishops in South-Iceland, from 1697-1759. He has been called the Father of Children´s Education and the monument depicts him teaching two children.
There are several other monuments here by the church.
By the ocean is a weathercock in the shape of a whale.
In Ytri-Njarðvík there is a Viking World Museum. And a more modern church.
In Ytri-Njarðvík is the coffee processing for Kaffitár, which is a popular café-chain here in Iceland, with 9 cafés (2014).
Reykjanes - Hanging Rocks.
On my drive along Reykjanes on road 425 I took a left turn after Hafnir village on road 44 which leads one to road 45 behind our Keflavík airport. Here you will notice clearly that the US-army base was located in this area. And there is a lot of wilderness here until suddenly two rocks stand out of the wilderness, one with grass on top of it. These rocks are called Gálgaklettar or Hanging rocks.
In the olden days criminals were hanged here. I can tell you that it is a little gloomy to visit this place knowing that it was a place of execution.
There are strange rock formations here and some people come here to practice climbing. The Hanging Rocks consist of 2 mountain castles separated by ca 6 metres.
The name of the rock, Hanging Rock, in Icelandic Gálgaklettar, can be found in ca 100 places in Iceland.
Hafnir village and the lovely church.
Hafnir village is one of the small villages on Reykjanes with a population of only ca 87 people. Together with Keflavík and Njarðvík Hafnir is now called Reykjanesbær. Hafnir used to be a thriving, big hamlet, but with new fishery technology people moved to other villages in Reykjanes.
The oldest church in Reykjanes is in Hafnir and is called Kirkjuvogskirkja church. It dates back to 1861 and behind it are remains of a settlement lodge which was found by excavation in 2002.
In front of the church there is a big anchor (see my last photo) which came from a deserted ship, Jamestown, which landed by Ósabotnar in 1881. It was a huge ship full of fine wood which was used for building timber houses in the vicinity.
The biggest fish drying company in Iceland, Haustak, is located between Hafnir and Reykjanesviti lighthouse. Their produce is mainly exported to Nigeria and Scandinavia. The fish is dried by geothermal heat, coming from Reykjanesvirkjun power station. Haustak is the only food company, that we know of, that uses this method for drying. The owners of Haustak are Vísir and Þorbörn in Grindavík village.
Two of our most beloved pop singers, the siblings Elly and Vilhjálmur grew up in Hafnir. Their songs make me ever so nostalgic.
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