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No humans for miles and miles, and when you see them they are very nice and hospitable
In a nutshell
Many geothermal formations in a very compact area
The Icelandic Yule lads in Myvatn!
We stopped somewhere near Lake Myvatn to see the pseudocraters and at the side of the store, I did see a picture of Santa Claus-like men holding a lamp and pictured on the side of the shop wall. My guide was beside it, and I swear – if my guide grew his beard and hair, he would look like one of them. I actually told him about this in good humour, and he just smiled and said that his ancestry is Irish since the Vikings probably got some slaves with them from Ireland (?)...
But the Santa-Claus like men I saw pictured on the wall are actually the Yule Lads – 13 sons of Gryla and Leppaludi, vicious trolls that live in the Myvatn area.
Thirteen days prior to Christmas, the Yule Lads start coming down from the mountain, one lad each night. The kids have to put their best shoe on the windowsill before naptime and a little gift each night from the Yule lad. If the child was misbehaving, the child gets a raw potato instead.
And then, you can actually visit these Yule lads in Dimmuborgir everyday between Dec 13-15, and on the first Saturday of December you can join them at the Myvatn Nature Bath (opened in 2004, check it out at www.jardbodin.is)
Updated Jul 2, 2009
Favorite thing: This is not my favourite thing about Iceland, but I put it as a general tip :D
The Moss balls - Cladophora Segagropila or Aegagropila linnaei, which we call in Icelandic "kúluskítur", can only be found in Mývatn, North-Iceland and in Lake Akan in Hokkaido in Japan. I have heard that it has been found in Estonia as well but Mývatn and Lake Akan are the only places where the Moss ball is common. It is so amazing that it can only be found in these countries.
The Moss ball is an algae which grows into big velvety balls and lives at ca 2 meters' dept here in Lake Mývatn and they just roll around there at the bottom of the lake at 3 meters' depth when it is windy. It has been there since the lake got "formed" 2300 years ago, remnants of it has been found since that time.
The Moss ball is now preserved, both in Iceland and Japan. In Japan they even have a festival in the honour of The Moss ball.
When David Attenborough visited Iceland he was given Moss balls as a gift and he still keeps it at home. It can be kept in tap water and the water has to be changed ca every 1-2 weeks. Photosynthesis occurs even when the Moss balls are kept at home. See my picture for how to keep them in your home. I took this picture at our annual "Festival of the Sea".
All in all it looks cute, although the farmers at Mývatn didn't consider it to be at all cute when it got stuck in their nets, therefore the name "kúlúskítur" which means ball-sh...
Updated Nov 19, 2008