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Iceland 02–12 June 2011Back

The DisCoTec'11 conferences, where I had a paper to present, took place in Reykjavík on Iceland in June 2011. As I had always wanted to visit Iceland, I extended my stay by three days before and four days after the conference. During the first three days, I explored the region around lake Mývatn in the north, while the last four days were used to travel along the southern coast to Skaftafell and the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. The perfect finish of this amazing trip was a visit to the Blue Lagoon, conveniently located on the Reykjanes peninsula close to the international airport.

The Flight & Reykjavík 2 June 2011

I headed out of Frankfurt on an Icelandair Boeing 757 in the early afternoon. I took the bus from the airport to Reykjavík and checked in to Hotel Loftleiðir, which appeared to be conveniently located right next to the city airport for my domestic flight early next morning. Unfortunately, it turned out that the terminal building was on the exact opposite side of the airport grounds. I then walked around central Reykjavík, had a Balkan dinner, and finally tried to close the curtains tightly enough to get some sleep despite the fact that it never really got dark.

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Akureyri, Goðafoss, Mývatn 3 June 2011

I took an early morning flight on an Air Iceland Fokker 50 from the refreshingly security check-free domestic airport to Akureyri in the north of the island. After collecting the rental car, I followed the ring road east to take a look at the Goðafoss waterfall and then explore sights around lake Mývatn. I spent the night in the rather mediocre farm guesthouse at Skútustaðir on the southern shore of the lake.

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Mývatn, Krafla, Dettifoss 4 June 2011

On a bright and sunny day, I visited a few remaining sights near the lake, took a swim in Reykjahlíð's small but heated outdoor swimming pool, and then went east over Námaskarð pass to the bubbling and steaming terrain of the Krafla volcano. Very late in the afternoon, much later than planned and after a rather annoying gravel road, I made a stop at Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall. Also much later than planned, I reached my accommodation for the night, the former boarding school Skúlagarður that had just been converted to a hotel and guesthouse. As the kitchen staff had just left, Axel, the owner, prepared a quick dinner for me – somewhat improvised according to him, but the best dinner of the entire trip according to me. All in all, this was the best night on the island. I also happened to be the only guest.

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Ásbyrgi, Húsavík, Akureyri 5 June 2011

Although cloudy, it remained mostly dry during the morning when I visited Ásbyrgi canyon. The following drive towards Akureyri via Húsavík, however, was dominated by rain, fog, and sometimes a bit of snow. I thus used an outlook opposite Akureyri to finish the slides for my talk in the car. At some point, the rain stopped, so I explored a bit of Akureyri before it was time to make it back to the airport and then to Reykjavík.

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Reykjavík 6 June 2011

On the evening of the first day of the conference, a few colleagues and I awaited the late sunset at the "Sólfar" sculpture in Reykjavík.

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Þingvellir, Geysir, Gullfoss 7 June 2011

The conference's social programme was a bus tour on the "Golden Circle" to the former site of the Alþingi parliament in Þingvellir, where the effects of the drifting apart of the tectonic plates were also very visible; to Haukadalur with the original (but rarely active) Geysir and the much more reliable Strokkur, which erupts roughly every 10 minutes; and to the Gullfoss waterfall. Our final destination was a farm somewhere in Iceland's nowhere for the conference dinner.

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Reykjavík 8 June 2011

At the end of this conference day, we went to the top of the tower of Hallgrímskirkja, which offers an impressive panorama of Reykjavík and surroundings.

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Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Sólheimajökull, Vík 9 June 2011

In misty weather, I made my way east along the ring road. The first stop was the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, well-known for the possibility to walk behind the falling water, followed by the mighty Skógafoss. In order to see a glacier up close for the first time, I subjected my poor little rental Hyundai to a rather nasty gravel 'road' to Sólheimajökull. In contrast to glacier cliché, it was rather black: volcanic ash black. The remaining journey to my hostel in Hvoll took me through a variety of landscapes, ranging from deep green meadows to endless desolate lava fields.

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Skaftafell & Jökulsárlón 10 June 2011

Skaftafell National Park and the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon were this day's destinations. The first task, though, was to cross the endless desolation of the Skeiðarársandur between my hostel and Skaftafell, which had been the last remaining obstacle before completion of the ring road in 1974. I first went all the way to Jökulsárlón, where it was so rainy that I rather quickly decided to skip the boat tour and go back to Skaftafell. During the relaxed walk there, to Svartifoss and a bit beyond, the sky cleared up and the weather also looked more promising to the east. So I hurried back to the car and quickly drove over to Jökulsárlón again, where I caught the second-to-last boat of the day and a few beautiful sunny moments. In all places, the eruption of Grimsvötn that had occured less than two weeks before was still noticeable: Ash storms swept across Skeiðarársandur, and in more wind-protected places, the ground was covered in powdery ash that caused one to produce little brown puffs when walking. Fortunately, the glacial flood across the Sandur that often follows a few weeks after a Grimsvötn eruption did not occur this time.

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On the Way to the Blue Lagoon 11 June 2011

Icelandic weather is changeable weather: another misty and rainy day followed, during which I drove back to Reykjavík. On the first part of the way, I stopped for a few basalt sights, and then for a nice hitchhiker from London that I took from Vík to Hveragerði. The day's destination was the Blue Lagoon, Iceland's most famous and favoured geothermal spa, surely not least due to its convenient location close to Keflavík Airport.

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Reykjanes 12 June 2011

My last morning on Iceland started with a relaxing bath in my hotel's "private lagoon". Although I was offered another free entry to the Blue Lagoon, I instead went on a little tour over the Reykjanes peninsula before heading back to the airport and then to Germany.

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