On our second day in Iceland we drove into Thingvellir national park, to the Silfra fissure. Throughout the park you can see where earthquakes and eruptions have moulded the landscape. Silfra is a fissure which sits between two tectonic plates (North American and Eurasian).
Despite it being late December and below freezing outside, we decided to join a snorkelling trip. You read that right. Snorkelling in the middle of Winter. In 2 degree water (although it was -10 outside).
Every year the plates drift a further 2cm, which causes a large earthquake every decade or so. Each time, changing the landscape. There are deep caves (63m) which have been mapped by cavern divers but not explored fully.
The water at Silfra has been filtered through the rock for 50 years and is very pure. The visibility is excellent, reaching 80 meters. At the end of the snorkel you reach the blue lagoon (not that one, although that would have been lovely as I was absolutely freezing!). Which is naturally a vibrant blue colour and where the visibility really becomes clear. You can see right across it to the exit platform.
We wore drysuits but anything wet froze when we got out the water. We were thoroughly freezing by the time we got back into our clothes in the car park.
Laugarvatn Fontana Spa
Embracing the fire and ice aspect of Iceland, we drove a short way from the national park. To a spa we had read about online, Laugarvatn Fontana.
Opposite the spa we found a little restaurant who had good veggie options.
The Laugarvatn Fontana spa like the Blue Lagoon is geothermally heated. But considerably cheaper and frequented by locals and tourists alike. During the dark polar night season this is a perfect way to kill time. They have different pools which vary in heat we hopped between.
We stayed there for several hours, before heading back to our cabin. On the way we stopped to explore Kronan an Icelandic supermarket.
I love looking in supermarkets abroad. Seeing what cool stuff we can find or what is similar to home. As Iceland is close to the states they had a lot of American stuff. We bought some Lucky Charms home (beats paying a ridiculous amount for the imported ones in Tesco!).
Polar Night Lights
We drove home through Selfoss. As we passed we noticed something very different about the church yard we had seen during daylight hours. All the graves were illuminated with fairy lights, glowing on the hill. We decided to go and take a closer look and so entered the snowy church yard via a little gate. Each grave was decorated and whilst it sounds strange, it was actually really beautiful.
It gets so dark during the long Winters with just a few hours of light each day. Icelanders and many nations living within the Arctic circle illuminate their homes and buildings with lights. Graves and their markers would be buried deep beneath snow and without any light pollution the graveyard would be pitch black. This was the first time I had come across it done to a graveyard but it would have made visiting a lot nicer and more practical for the families.