Iceland’s hydrogen economy and reliance on geothermal energy make it a model for sustainability. Tor Benson explores some of the sites that make this North Atlantic nation so unique. OSU students can see for themselves this summer on the study abroad program Iceland: Civilization and Sustainability.
My second weekend in Europe I received an invitation to go Arnar’s family’s summer house for the weekend which is about an hour out of Reykjavik. It is very common for an Icelandic family to have a “summer” house where they go and relax from after a busy work week. On our way to the summer house we stopped by a pumping station that provides hot water to the city which is used to heat their houses and shower. A favorite area to have a summer house is near the Golden Circle which is within an hour of Reykjavik. The Golden Circle is known for its geyser called Strukker, a waterfall called Gullfoss (The largest waterfall in Europe by volume), and the Althingi which is where the first Icelandic and arguably the first democracy in the world was established. The university has a tour at a reasonable price of around 25 dollars but the personal tour with Arnar’s family was a definite plus. On Sunday Arnar, his girlfriend and I went to the Althingi which is a very picturesque location overlooking a valley and lake.
With one in ten Icelanders writing a book, it is no surprise that we met an Icelander who is writing a book on day hikes around Reykjavik and charged us about 15 dollars a trip to go on a hike with wherever he was going on Saturdays and Sundays. On one such trip an Estonian friend of mine from my Icelandic Vocabulary course invited me to go along for the first time. On this trip we along with two girls from Spain, two guys one from Austria and one from Germany along with our Icelandic guide, Gunnlaugur or Gulli, and three Icelanders. We drove about two hour north of Reykjavik and hiked/climbed a 2800 ft mountain. On my second trip I invited my friends from my dorm and met up with four other international students. We went to a 2400 ft hill overlooking Reykjavik and went to a neighboring town and went swimming. There are twelve swimming pools in Reykjavik alone and cost about a dollar fifty to use the pool, hot tub, and sauna.
When my father came to visit I decided it was time to spend the money and go to the Blue Lagoon which is about ten dollars for students going to the University of Iceland but around thirty-five for adults. It is something to see and well worth the money. It is a natural hot spot that was deepened but has a very characteristic blue color due to silica and sulfur present in the water along with algae. The boiling water is initially pumped out of the ground and used to drive turbines and then cooled to about 100 degrees and added to the lagoon. It is situated in an old lava field about a half hour out of Reykjavik making it a favorite stop off before the airport.
The first week of November four exchange students rented a car for a day trip to Snaefellsnes Peninsula to see Snaefellsjokull. Jokull in Icelandic simply means glacier, with Vatnajökull in southern Iceland being the largest glacier in Europe. I had been to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula a month before but the roads were just as clear and the weather was even better. When you have a full car of people it is relatively easy and cheap to rent a car. After the glacier we drove to a fishing village called Riv and found some Icelandic horses that were more than willing to accept a carrot. No horses have been imported to Iceland since the 1600’s making them very distinct in their low stature.