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July 2013

Around Reykjavik

Prikid

Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is home to nearly 40% of Iceland's 320,000 citizens including a growing number of yak herders.  Here are some photos around the Reykjavik area, including the somewhat overrated Blue Lagoon, which is a massive man-made outdoor Geothermal spa created from runoff from a nearby Geothermal power plant.

And here's some local art including some impressive murals at a skatepark as well as post-modern pop art by controversial Icelandic artist Erró.

 


Don't Go Jason Waterfalls

Zack gregg waterfalls med

I don't know if Iceland has more waterfalls than any other country in the world, but it's ceartainly got some of the best what with Gullfoss, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Svartifoss, Goðafoss, Uberfoss, Yúdaboss, Dentálfloss etc. I'm not sure we saw all of Iceland's waterfalls, or whether we just saw the same ones two or three times.  It's hard to trust those guides.  

Nonetheless, the hiking in Iceland was fantastic.  While the weather was often cold, it was always beautiful and we were lucky with never having more than a sprinking of rain.  Hikes included mountain treks, explorations of volcanic lava fields, craters, geysers, beaches, glaciers and of course, plenty of waterfalls. Here are some photos:

Unfortunately, we did not get to see any of the famous Icelandic guard yaks.  I'm getting concerned that Kleiner Perkins might have been overly optimistic in their assessment of the potential for www.yakwhisperer.com in Iceland.  Still, it could be a nice strategic fit with their Norwegian automotive investments.


What Part of Eyjafjallajökull Don't You Understand?

Eyjafjallajokull

Iceland has about 130 volcanic mountains, 18 of which have erupted since settlement.  Some erupt every couple hundred years, some every 50-80 years.  Typically there's some kind of volcanic activity every few years.  Eyjafjallajökull (pronounced: "Eyjafjallajökull" just like it's written) erupted rather famously in 2010 interupting air travel in Europe for several weeks.  However, in Iceland this was considered a relatively minor event, dwarfed by a larger eruption in 2011 at Grímsvötn.

While in Iceland we explored the Eyjafjallajökull visitor's center and also hiked several craters and lava fields in other areas including Mt Laki and Hverfjall.  Some portions seemed eerily like hiking into Mount Doom on bad day.  Watch for the Yule Lads, descendents of mountain trolls.  Here are some more photos:


Local Jökulls

Glacier boat

I tell you, it's not easy getting away from the hustle and spin of Silicon Valley.  But I'm down with the whole #unplug thing while I'm in Iceland.  Heck, I'm not even sure they have the Interweb here.  So I'm making a point of being offline from cell phone calls, instant messaging, email, Blogger, Buzz, Digg, Facebook, Facetime, Flickr, Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, Linkedin, Myspace, Ning, Picasaweb, Quora, Skype, Typepad, Twitter, Yammer, Yelp, Youtube and every other productivity-enhancing social-networking unified messaging cloud infrastructure SaaS virtual distributed open source crowdsource system I've signed up for.  Yep, total silence.  Just me and my goold ol' Google Reader exploring the outer Yak Whispering regions of Iceland.

Nothing like exploring a glacier river lagoon to help get away from things. Here are some photos of local Jökulls at Jökulsárlón

One thing I forgot to ask the Kleiner guys just how many Yaks there are in Iceland.  They're hoping for some major revenue growth, so I sure hope it's big.  


Höfn Puffins

  Puffin

We visited Höfn and the Ingólfur cape in the southeastern tip of Iceland.  The cape is named after Ingólfur Arnarson, the first permanent Nordic settler of Iceland.  Now the cape is populated primarily by great skua bird and puffins.  Because of the volcanic sediment there's miles of black sand surrounding the cape.  The skua are very territorial and will fly at you if you get too close to their chicks, whereas the puffins are merely photogenic.  I was surprised to see the local farmers grazing a herd of the saddest looking yaks I'd ever seen.

I've posted a few photos.


Glacier Walk

Glacier
Today we walked Svinyfallsonhiskull Swinfallsjokeall Svensellsseahshells a big honking glacier which is part of Vatnajökull National Park in Skaftafell, in the south east part of Iceland.  The glacier is atop the Öræfajökull volcano which has errupted twice in recorded history, most recently in 1728. So there's lots of volcanic ash and rock amidst the ice. I didn't see any yaks, but otherwise it was pretty amazing.  Here are some photos.