The following was sent by Robert Zimmerman, who in the fall 2005 visited Iceland with his family. Thank you so much Bob.
In an attempt to establish some grounding in our Icelandic heritage, my wife Sally, our son Ethan, my brother John and his son Brian, and I set out on for an 8 day sojourn to the land of our ancestors. We found that, and more.
On Friday, September 2, 2005, we arrived in Iceland to mist and cool weather. This was our first trip to our Grandmother’s homeland. She had always told us how beautiful it was, but we had to see it for ourselves to believe it. As the mist cleared and the sun came out, we beheld the beautiful vistas of sea and mountains around Reykjavik. The air was clean, fresh and brisk.
A tour with a distant cousin, Skúli Karlsson, on Saturday took us into the interior of the country around Reykjavik. The beauty of the country exceeded all our expectations.
|The Zimmermans: John, Brian, Sally, Bob and Ethan.|
Leifur Eiríksson, the discoverer of America, in the background. In bronce.
We saw Gullfoss, volcanic craters, desert, geysers, and walked on the Langjökull glacier, and spent time at Þingvellir, the site of the first parliament, all within 150 km of Reykjavik. This is such a land of contrasts all in close proximity, and each so beautiful in its own way. After the long day of touring, we spent a lovely evening with Skúli and his wife, Bergrós Hauksdóttir, in their home.
A tour on Sunday to the southern coast showed us another side of Iceland. We viewed the farmland of the south coast, saw the sheep in the lush green hills, watched the birds which nest in the cliffs on the edge of the plains, and climbed up to and/or behind some spectacular waterfalls. We found the “Three Trolls” and “Three Masted Schooner” rock formations and the black sand beaches near Vik to be singularly impressive. On our return trip, we stopped to watch as the local farmers brought their sheep in from summer pasture.
One of the secondary purposes of our trip was to deliver copies of our Great-Grandmother’s journals to the National and University Library of Iceland. Hólmfríður Tómasdóttir at the Library is currently working on a project “Icelandic Heritage in the New World” to document how the Icelandic culture was continued by the Icelandic immigrants to the US and Canada. On Monday, we delivered the copies and visited with Hólmfríður. It was fascinating to hear about the Icelandic settlement in the US and Canada, and, as we have found, people of Icelandic descent remain very connected to their homeland.
Tuesday it was off to the National Museum. Oh, there was so much history stored there. We spent all day in the museum, and were unable to cover half of it. It will take more trips to absorb what and how our ancestors lived and survived. We also had the joy of meeting and dining with Hálfdan Helgason on Tuesday evening.
A walking tour of Reykjavik gave us more understanding of the history of the city. We were fascinated with the houses sided with corrugated steel, the decorative windows, and of course, the flowers that seem to appear in each small space throughout the city. Our hotel was at perhaps the highest point in Reykjavik, and looking down the streets toward the water and the mountains beyond, seeing the vivid colors of the houses, roofs and flowers showed so much life and appreciation of color.
On our remaining days, we relaxed, read, and walked (Reykjavik proper is compact enough that you can walk most anywhere). On Friday, we toured the barren but spectacular Reykjanes Peninsula with picturesque rock formations, hot springs, the meeting place of the American and Eurasian tectonic plates, and, of course, the Blue Lagoon. We had lovely, crisp sunny weather during our entire trip save for one rainy day.
This was our first trip to Iceland, and we expect that it was only the first of many more. We have now had our “overview”, and would like to explore the depths of the history, the culture, the society, and the beauty of the country on future trips.