Amore-Infinito Photography


On June 15th we were making our way back to Reykjavik from Akureyri [more on both towns to come];  at the halfway point we came across these great rock people. We knew we were halfway because the signs told us so…

~~Click once on image for a larger view, click a 2nd time to enlarge a bit more~~

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

I’d asked Ragga about the rock people, and she said they were at the side of the road to make people aware of the small town of Hvammstangi, which was 6km down the road. We didn’t make it down to the town, (which is most densely populated area in the Húnaþing County, with population of about 580 people), so I guess the town will have to be on my list of things to see the next time I get to Iceland.

Anyways, a huge part of our excellent road trip was the boys; there wasn’t one time during the entire road trip that I wasn’t thankful that they were with us. They were funny, they were fun, and they were full of endless energy. Yup, you could say I miss them.

And while we, as adults, would look at the rock people, perhaps smile and say ‘how cute’ … the boys knew exactly what to do….

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

THE ESTATE and PARSONAGE
PRESIDENTIAL RESIDENCE BESSASTADIR

The presidential residence and the church date back to the early 19th century and are situated in the open landscape at Bessastadir, on the peninsula Alftanes, just south of the capital.

The first recorded information on Bessastadir dates back to the turn of the 12th century, when the farm was the property of the renowned chieftain and author Snorri Sturluson. After his murder in 1241 the property was seized by the Norwegian king, becoming the first such to fall into the hands of the kings.

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View of Bessastadir with the Capital City of Reykjavik and Hallgrímskirkja, Icelands largest chruch, in the background. ©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

In 1841, The Bessastadir School came into possession of Bessastadir. The church became a county church in 1867 and remained as such until 1941.

In 1941 a Reykjavik businessman, Sigurdur Jonsson, purchased the property and donated it on the condition that is would become, and remain, the residence of the Icelandic president. It remained the residence of the governor until 1944, when Iceland gained independence from Denmark in 1944 and the first president was elected by parliament.

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

Bessastadir has been a site of a church since the year 1000 and the first documented sources mention a church there in the year 1200. It took about 20 years to finish the construction of the present church, which was consecrated in 1796 and restored in 1998. It is one of the oldest buildings made of cemented stone in the country. The stones are from the Gallow Lava field east of Bessastadir and were transported to the property on open boats. The church was decorated with its stained windows in 1956 to commemorate the 60th birthday of the second president of the country, Asgeir Asgeirsson.

Icelands president is Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, who is the fifth President of Iceland and has served as President since 1996; he is the longest-serving left-wing president in the history of Iceland.He married Guðrún Katrín Þorbergsdóttir in 1974. Þorbergsdóttir, much loved by the Icelandic people, died from leukemia in 1998; she was laid to rest in the cemetery beside the church on the Presidential grounds.President Grímssons second marriage was to Israeli-born Dorrit Moussaieff . They were married in a private ceremony held at the Presidential residence.

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

Icelands flag become the national flag when Iceland gained independence from Denmark in 1944. The flag’s colouring represents the colours that stand for 3 of the elements that make up the island; red is the fire produced by the island’s volcanoes, white recalls the ice and snow that covers Iceland, and blue for the Atlantic Ocean.

This is the Presidential flag that was flying at the Presidential residence. The Icelandic presidency uses a swallowtailed Icelandic flag with the Coat of arms; it is used on the all dwellings of the President as well as any Presidential vehicles. ©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

Ragga, her son Brynjar Leó, and I went out to the Presidents residence one afternoon. What surprised me most was that we could just drive right up to it … well, not right up to the front door, but we did park by the beautiful church and then just walked the grounds. I didn’t notice any signage; though Ragga mention that it was discouraged to walk over the brick road between the church and residence. Still, it blew me away that other than the brick road restriction, we were free to walk the grounds. How free?? … well, here’s a picture of Brynjar Leó posing in the tree grove on the grounds.

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

~~Click once on image for a larger view, click a 2nd time to enlarge a bit more~~

What started out as a friendly interaction soon became one of a 'stare-down', and much to my shock the stare-down phase began just as I heard Ragga's car drive off. (©2010 Adriana Durian Photography)

(©2010 Adriana Durian Photography)

(©2010 Adriana Durian Photography)

(©2010 Adriana Durian Photography)

Yes, I'd grabbed onto the fence 'before' seeing the sign....simply electrifying.... (©2010 Adriana Durian Photography)

Seljalandsfoss waterfall drops 60 metres from the river Seljalandsá over the cliffs of the former coastline. It is situated in between Selfoss and Skógafoss and is one of the most famous waterfalls of Iceland, made famous by the fact that you can walk behind the falls, which is exactly what Egill Ari and I did.

Seljalandsfoss also gained international recognition after it was a waypoint during the first leg of The Amazing Race 6 [my absolutely MOST favorite show, ever!!].

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Along the drive to Seljalandsfoss we came across this scene . (©2010 Adriana Durian Photography)

Egill Ari posed in front of the waterfall just before we walked up and behind it. (©2010 Adriana Durian Photography)

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

View from behind the falls. (©2010 Adriana Durian Photography)

We stopped in at the camping grounds beside the falls. I loved the buildings which were built right into the ground. (©2010 Adriana Durian Photography)

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

This piece of farm equipment was on the grounds of the camping grounds - you can see the falls in the background. (©2010 Adriana Durian Photography)

After we visited the Seljalandsfoss falls and the camping grounds, we came across these beautiful horses. As with most of the animals we ran across during my visit in Iceland, when I got close enough to photograph them, they turned around and hightailed it away in the other direction. (©2010 Adriana Durian Photography)

However, once in a while I did get lucky.... (©2010 Adriana Durian Photography)

The most photographed waterfall in Iceland is the Gullfoss. The Gullfoss is one of the 3 major natural attractions in Icelands Golden Circle [the other 2 being the Great Geyser and Þingvellir National Park]

The Hvítá River, which flows underneath the Langjökull glacier, is fed by Langjökulls melting ice. Gullfoss, which spans the width of the Hvítá River, falls 32 meters in two stages and it’s water flows 133 kilometers into the Atlantic.

The Gullfoss is so powerful that you may wonder how its possible that it still stands as a natural beauty, as opposed to having corporate interests try to use it for power.

At one time there was thought to using Gullfoss for hydroelectricity, but due to lack of funds and some other issues, the falls were purchased by the government of Iceland and eventually conserved.

There is a second story about the conservation of the falls. It’s said that a landowner was going to sell the property, and his daughter Sigríður Tómasdottir threatened to throw herself into the falls if the land was sold. This prompted her father to back out of the deal and make the falls a reserve. True story or not, while at the falls you can see a memorial commemorating Sigríður Tómasdottir. [I like this story better!!].

[For some perspective on how large the falls are, check out the second photograph and see the guys on the rock formation tonthe left].

~~Click once on image for a larger view, click a 2nd time to enlarge a bit more~~

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, one of the stops on our road trip, is about 60 km east of Skaftafell National Park and almost 400 km from Reykjavik, and is at the base of the Vatnajokull glacier.

The outlet glacier of Vatnajokull is  Breidamerkurjokull, which is  Europes biggest glacier.

Large portions of the Breidamerkurjokull glacier crumble and break off, creating large icebergs that tumble down the steep mountainside of the glacier into the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. This is a constant process with the icebergs melting away as they float in the lagoon, or are carried to the sea by the glacial river.

I’ve seen the lagoon in movies, it was featured in the movies James Bonds Die Another Day and Lara Crofts Tomb Raider.

It was somewhat foggy/hazy on the day we were there; Breidamerkurjokull glacier was a bit obscured, but my breath was taken away when I saw the sheer magnitude of the icebergs in the lagoon. Looking at the brilliant white and stunning blue icebergs, I was thinking  yes, I have arrived in the land of ice.

~~Click once on image for a larger view, click a 2nd time to enlarge a bit more~~

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

So, I’m going a tad away from the ‘road-trip’ time-line here; one of the questions I get most often when I say I was recently in Iceland is “did you go to the Blue Lagoon?”

Ragga, the boys and I arrived back in  Hafnarfjörður on the 15th of June. I checked the ‘net for information on the Blue Lagoon and discovered that they have a full range of spa treatments.

Well, the way I figured it, after spending almost 2 weeks with me, loading and unloading the car, looking after the boys, and at times driving in some incredibly thick fog, Ragga deserved a spa treatment. When I asked her if she could book us into a massage & facial, I was delighted to discover that she’d never had a massage/facial at the Blue Lagoon. After two weeks of seeing Iceland for the first time, and meeting amazing Icelandic people, I could give Ragga a ‘new’ experience as well. Very cool.

The next day Ragga drove us over to The Blue Lagoon for what would be an experience I won’t forget anytime soon.

First, a little about The Blue Lagoon — it’s blue, it’s a lagoon, it’s heaven on earth.  [For a more information, including the science, facilities, and how to get there, check out The Blue Lagoon website at www.bluelagoon.com]

When we arrived I was struck by the incredible, natural blue milky water; it was so soft looking, in sharp contrast to the hard lava field that held the water.

The customer service was world-class; we were given soft, plush bathrobes and towels, and a computerized wristband to use for our secure lockers; the facility was spotless.

We changed, took a shower, and headed for the “in the water” massage area — yup, our massages were in the water. We lay down on a blue floatation mat, closed our eyes as the masseuse covered us with a special blanket and started the massage. In the background I could hear the sounds of the Lagoons waterfall, and throughout the massage I could feel that the masseuse gently moving the mat around the water. Total heaven!! The hour ended way too soon!!

After the massage & facial we went into the large lagoon area. I secretly think that my friend Ragga is an A++++ type personality, as she’s always on the go; so much to my pleasant surprise at the Blue Lagoon she totally relaxed. We stayed in the water for around 1-1/2 – 2 hours – [not sure for exactly how long we were there, but my fingertips were defiantly shriveled], applied Blue Lagoon silica mud mask which is provided in boxes around the lagoon and  relaxed in the seating area around the lagoon to take in the sun.

Going to Iceland?? The Blue Lagoon is a must do!!

~~Click once on each image for a larger view, click a second time to enlarge a bit more~~

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

©2010 Adriana Durian Photography

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