Saturday, 23 May 2015

Land of Fire and Ice

From the title of this blog you may guess where the intrepid Fram is on this planet. The fire comes from volcanic activity and the ice from ice caps and glaciers. We are of course in Iceland! You are not supposed to modify the adjective “unique” but in the case of Iceland I will make an exception. Iceland is incredibly, hugely, amazingly unique in so many ways. Iceland is a relatively young country geologically, built by volcanic activity on the mid-Atlantic ridge, a spreading zone which has North America moving west away from Europe and the north Atlantic ocean getting wider every year.  Most of the country is just south of the Arctic Circle so the climate is cool, oceanic, but lucky for Iceland, the south and west coasts are bathed by the relatively warm waters of the North Atlantic Drift, which keeps the whole of northern Europe warmer that it “should” be base on latitude. Nevertheless, given enough altitude, the winter snows do not melt and build to for icecaps and glaciers. This “fire and ice” comes together in spectacular fashion in a few places in Iceland where volcanoes erupt UNDER a glacier, with results you can only imagine! Fram does not come to Iceland very often so this is a very special tour.

We started today in the country’s capital of Reykjavik- literally “smoking bay” in the Ancient language of Icelandic. The country was settled by Norse peoples over 1200 years ago. They brought with them the old Norse language from places like Norway, and the language has remained more or less true since then. And now a few images from our ship photographer Hilde, just to give you a flavour of the place.

Here is the Fram alongside in the port of Reykjavik.

The city is a nice mix of old and new.

An example of new architecture is the modern Lutheran Cathedral.

Another example of a very modern building is the brand new cultural centre with concert halls, meeting rooms and galleries.

As it is our Fram boarding day, most of our passengers had recently traveled to Iceland to join the ship. They usually arrive a little tired and bewildered, unless perhaps they have been on Fram before (many come back!). Nevertheless, we have to conduct the manditory life boat and safety drill, The Fram is safety first! After dinner our Captain invited all passengers to a reception in the Panorama Lounge on deck 7. Then most went for an early night to prepare for the next 10 or so days, which will be amazing!