Sunday photoblogging: Hekla, Iceland

by Chris Bertram on July 26, 2015




Sasha Clarkson 07.26.15 at 6:35 pm

Wow! :)


Barry 07.26.15 at 7:28 pm

Looks like Mt. Doom trying to creep up on the Shire.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 07.26.15 at 9:00 pm

The highway to Mordor!

I have some lepidopterans.


Snarki, child of Loki 07.26.15 at 10:01 pm


Hekla is one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes; over 20 eruptions have occurred in and around the volcano since 874. During the Middle Ages, Europeans called the volcano the “Gateway to Hell”.


TheSophist 07.26.15 at 10:21 pm

I just got back from 10 days in Iceland a couple of weeks ago. It’s a truly magnificent country – almost indescribably beautiful. My gf and I spent most of our time driving the ring road (the one highway around the country – two lane most of the way, occasionally not paved) and loving every minute of it. We also spent a couple of days in Reykjavik, stopped off to see Bobby Fischer’s grave in Selfoss, and took the ferry out to the Vestmann Islands. The country is still very expensive, unfortunately, but much less so since the 2009 devaluation.


Alan White 07.27.15 at 12:07 am

Yet another great perspective picture.

My never-went-to-high-school Dad, drafted in WW2, spent the only time he ever did out of the country in Reykjavik in the Quartermaster Corps, and all the pictures he sent my Mom were white with snow. His wintry stories colored my thoughts about Iceland for decades; photos like this make me wish to visit.


UserGoogol 07.27.15 at 2:15 am

Boston public transportation has somewhat regular advertising from Icelandair, which pretty explicitly markets itself around the idea that you can make a stopover in Iceland during a trans-Atlantic flight and just admire how cool Iceland is. (Or just travel to Iceland and stick to that.) And it’s certainly a plausible argument, not that I’m gonna be flying over the Atlantic any time soon.


krippendorf 07.27.15 at 11:37 am

Looks a lot like the Brooks Range in Alaska, only with pavement and power lines. (It’s much cheaper to get to Iceland, though, at least from most of the US.)


engels 07.27.15 at 11:58 am


TheSophist 07.27.15 at 8:22 pm

What makes the Icelandair deal so cool is that you can fly (eg) Bos-Kef, stay up to a week (or maybe it’s ten days, I forget) in Iceland, and then continue on to any destination in Europe for the same price as a direct flight to Europe would have been (or you can do what I did, and do the stopover on the way back). There’s also something called (honestly!) WOW Air, which is more or less the Icelandic equivalent of Easyjet or Ryanair, which sometimes has amazing deals.


Bloix 07.27.15 at 9:19 pm

That is one bleak landscape. I know people rave about Iceland, but think I’m getting too old for vacations to bleak. I wouldn’t mind the mountain so much if along the way there was maybe a tree. And a few cows. Or sheep, even. A patch of sun on the ground. And a nice farmhouse, instead of those high power lines that go for miles in either direction without ever leading to a human habitation.


Snarki, child of Loki 07.27.15 at 10:41 pm

Once you travel to Iceland as a tourist, your name goes on a mailing list, and you’ll be hearing about all the GREAT deals from IcelandAir (esp. in February).



TheSophist 07.28.15 at 5:17 am

Snarki is indeed correct. I even get an electronic Xmas card every year from the hotel I stayed at when I first went To Reykjavik, back in 2011. There are, however, worse mailing lists to be on. (I got two missives today from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.)


Chris Bertram 07.28.15 at 6:45 am

I would thoroughly recommend a trip to Iceland, but make sure you have enough money to hire a 4×4 to head off into the interior, it is magical. Like a number of people I know, I decided to go after reading Halldor Laxness’s novel Independent People. So, if you want to avoid generating a strong desire to visit, don’t read it!


Trader Joe 07.28.15 at 11:03 am

@12 & 13
I third this. We went about 12-13 years ago doing the Iceland Air stop-over (for about 3 days) in route to London and still get e-mails (which I tolerate because I enjoy the memories).

Was a beautful trip. Our favorite memory was an extreme upclose with puffins (just inches away) and still have pircutres of them on the walls at home (larger than life size). Agree with Chris, a 4×4 would be a big advantage – we didn’t have one and nearly found ourselves in a a jam a couple of times and there were lots of placed we’d have like to have gone but dared not try.


Bloix 07.28.15 at 1:54 pm

I read Independent People 20 years ago. I thought it was bleak. A man risks starvation, drowning and death from exposure in order to find a lost sheep that was actually killed and eaten by his pregnant wife. When he returns empty-handed, he finds she has died in childbirth, alone. How could that book make you want to go to that place and meet those people? Anyway, I doubt very much that modern Icelandic city folk are anything like the taciturn subsistence sheep-farmers of Independent People.

Perhaps my problem with Iceland is that I can’t get over the fact that the barren landscape is man-made: clear-cutting of forests for charcoal and timber, and over-grazing by sheep on land that could not regenerate grass fast enough to save the meager topsoil. When I see pictures of it I can’t help thinking environmental disaster instead of natural beauty.


Chris Bertram 07.28.15 at 3:04 pm

I’d castigate you for plot-spoilers Bloix, but since those events happen quite early in the novel, you’d not have spoiled very much, and (in any case) the book isn’t very plot-driven.


Bloix 07.28.15 at 4:02 pm

Sorry, I’m feeling pissy this week. It’s a great novel, in the classic sense of great (it won the Nobel Prize for literature, which is often a “do not read!” notice, but in this case it’s a true recommendation). It just didn’t make me want to visit the place. My son was there recently and he loved it. I would have loved it, too,when I was 25. I just don’t feel the need for the romance of the heath anymore.


Bloix 07.28.15 at 4:06 pm

And if we can talk about bleak Scandinavian literature, did you ever read Giants in the Earth? I read that as a teenager and it just blew me away.


TheSophist 07.28.15 at 9:27 pm

I’m going to respectfully disagree with CB about the need for a 4×4. Certainly it increases your options, but we went the economy car route and still had a magical time.

Also (cross-pollinating from the crime fiction thread), for those who might find Indridason’s Erlendur novels enjoyable. He’s basically the Icelandic Rebus – grumpy, middle-aged, divorced etc, but several of the books really give a sense of the feel of Icelandic life.

The presence of Laxness gives the Icelanders the highest Nobel Prize winner/population ratio in the world. (1/320k). They also have the highest chess grandmaster/population ratio, at 11/320k.

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