Monday, August 7, 2017

Thingveller National Park in Iceland.

 Saturday, I went on a wonderful daylong tour of three major sites here in Iceland.  At the end of the day, our guide remarked Monday is their Labor Day, so everyone is heading off for the weekend.

We had a great trip on the bus out to Thingveller National Park.  This park is important for three different reasons.  The picture to the left is one of the churches I saw on the way. 

There are churches here and there.  We saw one church that was built so a man could bury his wife on their land because a body cannot be buried anywhere other than on church property. So a man and his brother built a church I hope to provide a picture tomorrow.
 Every seat on the bus had a tablet with the route shown on a Google Map.  Each point represents an important point on the trip.  As the GPS indicated we were at the site, the tablet displayed the appropriate information.

In addition, Freya, our guide would provide commentary on certain points to fully covered by the tablet.  The huge lake you see is where we stopped for a visit in Thingveller National Park.

The bus parked at the top, by the visitors center to drop us off.  The guide warned us that if we wanted to use the facilities here, we'd pay 200 Kr.  she also told us it was the only place that charged for use.

At the top, one found multiple maps showing the whole area.  I liked this map but to the left, one could look at a 3 dimensional map.

The white area on the map represents the second largest glacier. As this water melts, the water seeps down through the volcanic rock before traveling for 20 or 30 years until it reaches the lake. 
From the visitors center we strolled down the board walk  between two sets of rock.  This Park is where two plates are moving away from each other at about 2 cm per year.  One plate is referred to as the American plate while the other is the European plate according to the guide.

At one point, one of the walls of this fissure fell down and had to be dug out so people could continue this walk.  There is even a small sign to the side showing where it happened along with all the details.

The way the tour is set up, no one has to climb up the walkway.  The bus met us at the bottom on the other side past the waterfall.

This church and houses form the summer place belonging to  Iceland's President however it is only used for social events with visiting dignitaries.  It is at the bottom of the valley surrounded by water and easy to walk to.

No one was there when we went through so lots of visitors followed the walkways across the valley.  I didn't have time to wander over so I got close enough to snap these pictures.

Now for the second reason this National Park is important. 

Back in 930, a governing assembly began meeting and continued meeting till the mid 18th century.  This assembly meet for two weeks every year.  Representatives made their way to this location so they could discuss and create laws.  It was the first known assembly every.

When the assembly gathered, people showed up, built temporary buildings known as booths.  The flag to the left marks where they believe the "Law Rock" existed.

Side note here: Icelandic is a language closest to what the Vikings spoke.  Even now, students can read historical documents  with little difficulty.  In fact, anytime words develop such as computer, Iceland creates a new word for it.  The word for computer means "Number Witch".

So back to here.  This is where it was decided Christianity could be an accepted religion as long as Pagans were allowed to continue their beliefs back in 1000AD.  Iceland is the only country in Europe where Christianity came in without any blood shed.
Late on when the Lutherans took over as the primary Christian faith from the Catholics, things were not as nice. The third thing the park is known for has to do with change.

If a woman broke certain laws such as committing adultery, she'd be condemned to death by drowning.  They'd put rocks on her body before throwing her in the "Drowning Pool" till she died. 

If a man was convicted of the same offenses, he'd be beheaded.  This continued to the Witch Trials.

The area is so beautiful and tranquil.  In fact this area is part of a river, the only river in Iceland, that flows directly into a lake.

Water tumbles over the rocks down to the lake.  It flows between the rocks before curving to the right, plunging under the walkway before joining the river.

The drowning pool is the quiet part to the front left portion of the picture.  The clear beautiful water looks so serene that one would never know women had been drowned all those years ago.

Tomorrow, I'll share more pictures I took of the Golden Circle Trip.  At one point on the trip, they put in a short visit to a farm for ice cream.  Within the past four years, the owners remodeled the building, redid everything and are known for their wonderful ice cream.  It was so smooth and delicious.  I suspect the ice cream has a higher percent of butter fat than that you find in America.

The tour guide said last week, the Icelandic Prime Minister stopped for ice cream at the same time her group visited.  Apparently, people will even drive to this place in the middle of winter to enjoy the treat.  There is an Icelandic word that means going to get an ice cream. 

So more tomorrow. I hope you enjoyed the pictures.  Unfortunately, the pictures I took do not do justice to the beauty in real life of the area.  I already know, I want to come back to visit Iceland sometime.  I need more time.  See you tomorrow.

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