The group slept very well last night and, after lights out (at 22.30), all was very quiet in the accommodation centre. And the good news was that the Northern lights had been well seen the previous evening with many good pictures being captured.
Breakfast was much appreciated, especially the freshly made waffles with maple syrup. Packed lunches were individually made and soon we were set to roll at 09.00, as per schedule. High pressure still sits overhead and so the day promised some excellent weather. It was a bit misty at first, hiding a bit of the beauty of the Thingvellir National Park and World Heritage Site but it also added some “hazy mystery” to this spectacular place. Pupils were very attentive in the coach as we talked through the various maps, diagrams and pictures that helped to explain all that we were going to see at the various stops of the day. I have never been asked so many questions by pupils; they are obviously listening and many are wanting to know more; all very heartening.
After our stroll through a part of Thingvellir it was then on to the Geysir area. After packed lunches were eaten and topped up with some additional calorie intake from the cafe – and after some retail therapy (all very tasteful, of course; you have been warned!) it was across to the geothermal field to see hot springs and the shooting geysir of Strokkur. Being almost windless, and with rich clear blue skies, some great images were obtained. Great Geysir was also seen. Now inactive, sadly; if only I’d remembered the soap suds – this often makes a reluctant geysir burst in to action! The group members were by this time a very happy bunch (and not just from the sugar buzz of lunchtime!), enjoying all that they were seeing, understanding all that they were seeing and really appreciating so much of Iceland’s wonderful geography.
Gullfoss waterfall was the grand finale of the day’s visit; it did not fail to impress and the word “wow” was uttered by many on first sight. As well as the grand overview, it was down to the waterfall’s lip for even closer (but safe) encounters. Again it was so rewarding to have pupils ask about this and that as we walked about the area as well as several saying, “Ah, I see it now; I see the layers of hard and soft rock that you talked about on the coach and how the soft rock is undercut by the river; ah, now I see how a waterfall moves upstream”; great! Then it was back to a water cut canyon, an essential “comfort stop” and then to swim in Selfoss pool (where, I believe, hairdryers were used to dry feet!).
The evening meal was traditional Icelandic food – lamb sausage and white sauce with potatoes and various vegetables, followed by Skyr (a type of yogurt… but not yogurt!) with a fruit puree; delicious.
Now the group is relaxing in the accommodation’s outdoor jaccuzi (watched over by the teachers), under a clear sky and once again seeking sight of the Northern Lights. One thing that the pupils don’t know is that in Reykjavik this evening the city plans to switch off the street lights in several areas of the city to allow a better view of the Northern Lights, a sight often lost due to light pollution; how cool is that! (so typical of Iceland/Icelanders) Is this something that Oxford might consider? Tomorrow is, fingers crossed, Heimaey and yet another chapter to unfold in FC’s Icelandic encounters. It is hard to believe that FC have been in Iceland only 29 hours and already have done and seen so much!
Godan nott, Ian K Hardie.