We saw Thingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss waterfall, the geothermal area that has the original Gesyer and Strokker (a geyser that rivals Old Faithful), an old church, and a horse farm.
|Beautiful country church, name unpronouncable/unrememberable|
Our brief stay gave me only impressions:
The landscape is barren, it's a stark beauty, with few trees and wide open skies. The current locals are encouraged to plant trees, since Vikings cleared the native birch forests nearly 1000 years ago, but they've a ways to go before they get to the 30% total area forested that was there a millinia ago.
Icelanders are very white - the fairest group I've seen. I felt quite ethnic there.
Much of the countryside and old buildings struck me as being reminicent of Tolkien's Middle Earth (or visa versa, really), the troll and elf myths, the landscape (flat marshes and volcanos - Mordor anyone?), the old Nordic leif motifs... (Yes I know he studied Old English, Ango-Saxon, and Norse language and mythology)
On the flip side, much of Reykjavik had modern, avent garde even, architecture.
Britains and Americans are seen as invaders and occupiers in Iceland, because they were.
Their take on ecology and the natural environment is very different than ours. We saw a fish ladder for salmon next to a large natural waterfall. I asked why it was there, since I was familiar with putting up fish ladders only for man-made dams. The guide explained that it was for salmon. I didn't know salmon were native there - turns out they're not. The salmon were introduced to that river and the ladder was put in to get them to return farther upriver for the fishermen. When I asked the guide what the environmentalist thought about that she said the environmentalist were far more concerned with whaling than salmon. I wish I had had the courage (and rudness) to ask about her thoughts on whaling.
Iceland was beautiful. I'm sure there's far more to see than even a week could do justice to.