Sunday, 17 September 2017

Lake Myvatn and Dimmuborgir ...#5 Cruise Diary

Cruising Greenland, Iceland and Norway #5

Continuing my Treasures of the North tour…

August 28th 2017

Lake Myvatn, Iceland
After the delights of the Godafoss Waterfall we drove on to Lake Myvatn. The volcanic mounds which rise up from the lake bed are very impressive and would be even more so on a fine day. Sadly for us, the bird life that’s said to be plentiful and colourful all seemed to be hunkered down and in hiding. The rain continued to drizzle and the cloud level being very low meant that vision across the lake was severely restricted. Thousand of years ago at Lake Myvatn, during the formation of Iceland, bogs were heated to extreme temperatures which turned the water to steam. The resultant explosions from the expansion pushed up volcanic ash and created pseudo volcanic craters.
Lake Myvatn, Iceland

I’d love to explore them on a much better day sometime in the future and the rest of lake Myvatn. (Some of the cruise guests went to the Myvatn natural baths for a geo-thermal dip. Although they experienced it in the rain it didn’t seem to diminish their enjoyment. One interesting comment was that though there are separate showers for men and women at the lake those showers are communal and have to be taken before donning a bathing suit.)

After a brief lunch stop we moved on to what was a fabulous little place.
Dimmuborgir, Iceland
Dimmuborgir – the Dark Fortress/Dark Castles/ Dark forts – is a small but impressive site and almost totally unique in the world (only one similar that under water off the coast of Mexico). Thought to be the remains of a lava reservoir which cooled and formed above a lake all that’s left now are the spectacularly bizarre structures I visited. A lava field of giant pillars, chimneys and twisted towers are there for scrambling around and across. These incredible formations are one of Iceland's most popular tourist destinations. 

Icelandic folklore tells that Dimmuborgir was the home of a homicidal female troll named Gryla. She shared the area with her third husband Leppaludi and their mischievous sons, neatly named the Yule Lads. 

Can you see her in this photo, here at left? 

The Icelanders used the threat of the Yule Lads and Gryla to keep their naughty children under control. If the kids didn’t behave then rotten potatoes would be left in their shoes instead of nice gifts. There has been a merging of the ancient Norse aspects of gift giving with Christian Santa Claus traditions.  

‘Game of Thrones’ viewers might recognise some of the area as it was used for filming some of the scenes.

The tourist board have made access easy in the quarter mile of pathways and it was so brilliant to appreciate the home of the trolls!
Dimmuborgir, Iceland

One step onto the pathway I felt the atmosphere of the tourists change. There wasn’t a collective sigh but there was a hush as everyone turned the first corner some ten steps along. I personally named him ‘Big Daddy’ but having learned the myth I should maybe have been calling her ‘Big Mama’. I’d not dare to be rude to any Icelander and name the rock such to their face, and certainly not to my tour guide, but I really could see a dramatic troll face in the volcanic rock.

She/he was the first of many as I wandered the quarter mile of twists and turns. The whole area only measures about one kilometre in diameter but it does include some very nifty little caves. One in particular, a fairly large step-inside one was a main feature for tourists. A tiny scramble up some very conveniently laid stone steps gives a humorous inkling into the life of a Dimmuborgir troll.

Those Yule Lads must be sweeping from dawn till dusk to keep this place dust free! 

I loved this stop and paid due attention to giving my thanks to ‘Big Mama/Daddy’ as I left the area. 


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