The Waterfall that Everybody Goes to See – Kirkjufellfoss, Iceland

Ever since I started wandering around Iceland, two of my favorite book series have kept popping into my mind. The landscape reminds so much of both of them, and I wonder if it somehow did not play in the inspiration of one of the series. That series would be The Lord of the Rings. There are some paths carved into the hills that remind me of the wastelands that Frodo and Sam would have had to cross before they ran into Gollum. The other series would be The Song of Ice and Fire, but this is because a lot of the scenes beyond the Wall were filmed in this location for the famous television series based on these books called, The Game of Thrones.

This has been a phenomenon lately with tourist locations. Fans of the show will travel to the various locations so they can witness these spots for themselves. The Skellig Islands off the coast of Ireland are popular now because of Star Wars filmed there. People no longer travel to New Zealand for just its beauty, but because they want to follow in the footsteps of the Fellowship. And Iceland has become a destination spot because of Game of Thrones.

One of the biggest stops along the tour is Kirkjufell. It may not look familiar in these pictures to those of you who have watched the show, but imagine it covered in snow, and then think about the background when the crows were wandering beyond the Wall and you will realize that it is there a lot of the time. I think it looks a little like Gandolf’s hat, but despite its connection to either of these fantasy giants, it is an impressive sight.

It is not only this iconic mountain that brings flocks of tourists to this spot, but the ideal place to get a picture of it is next to this impressive waterfall, Kirkjufellfoss. In fact, more people cluster around this spot to get pictures of the gallons of water rushing over the side. I know that there are many waterfalls that I will run into on this trip, but this being the first one that I was able to get close to, I was impressed by his sheer magnitude. It is also one of those things that can dramatically change in a different season.

The way that this country tickles my imagination makes it one of the best exploration vacations I have ever experienced. I can see why people make it out here to try and grab a part of one of their favorite television shows, but I can also see how it could have been the inspiration for some of my favorite stories. The best part of it is that just by being out here, I am getting to create my own stories to tell, and for anybody, that is enough reason to take the trip this far north, no matter the season. There will always be worth something to experience.

Iceland’s Traditional Farm Houses

I know that the Vikings were the first people to discover Iceland, and they were the ones to give it its name, but there was another group of people that eventually made their way over to this island. These people had to face harsh conditions to cultivate the land and survive. I never gave much thought to these people and what they did in order to survive, until I visited their traditional farm houses, Glaumbaer.

I got to see them during the summer months when they were free from snow, and really showcased how they were built. Basically they had turf for their roofs that would look like rolling hills if it wasn’t for the fact that on the front of each one of these hills was a wooden facade giving the place the look of a typical Scandinavian house from the 1800s. I thought of it as a strange little addition, but I get why it was added. It probably gave these people a small semblance of home and made it feel more comfortable.

Going inside set me up for another surprise. Basically, all of these small houses were not separate, but were instead part of a big chain of house brought together for one large community. The rooms were designed to keep people warm during the long winters with big pantries, a large kitchen, and rooms in the back with personal bunks where the community could sleep. The big huge roofs would acts as a great insulation against the pounding storms, and the people could get light from the small windows dotted all along the inside each room. There was even a small location where the pastor of the community could prepare for services to help guide these people through the tough times.

This community was a far ways away from any of the larger towns on the island as well. The people that chose to live out here knew that they has to rely on themselves and their own ingenuity to live a comfortable life. They would venture out to the larger towns a couple of times a year to collect the supplies they might need in order to survive the next season. Otherwise, they made do with what they had. They would use everything that they could find to make life comfortable from the bones of whales to vision sleds and plows to the blubber that they could use to make shoes that would keep them warm and dry. Sledgehammers were made out of large stones, and the beds were made out of whatever timber they could find.

The windows were another feature of the place that surprised me. They were tiny, but they let in considerable light. Considering that a good portion of the time they spent here was during the summer when the sun would never set, I could understand why they made the windows so small. It would let in just enough light so they could see by, but not enough so they could also sleep at night. I could also see the function they served during the winter months. They weren’t going to let in any light because there wasn’t any light to enter, and they wanted to keep out the cold, so larger windows would be a problem. It showed me that everything that they did in these farm houses was of a practical nature, and it was for this reason that they were able to live and farm in this far away place up north.

It was a great stop along the Ring Road of Iceland, and it was my first insight into the people who lived here long after the Vikings. Glaumbaer is a must stop for anyone who ventures out this way and it is worth the small entrance fee to get to tour its lands.