Euro Cup- part 3
The big day came towards the end of our week there, where 30,000 people packed onto the Arnarholl Park hill in front of huge erected screens projecting the game to the people, young and old, from near and far. Although they lost the game, we were struck by their sportsmanship and the crowd was so proud of their team’s accomplishments, and saluted them with their rapturous Viking chant before, throughout and after the game. Even in town later that night, people celebrated despite the “loss” as it still represented a monumental gain for them, and when the bars closed that night, the music was turned off and the Viking chant erupted in homage to their unexpected heroes. (Photos: courtesy of Aarom Wilson)
Euro Cup 2016-part 1
A second clear Iceland highlight (even for a self-confessed “non-fan” of team-sports like me), was being there for a Euro Cup 2016 game. Iceland had qualified in the quarter-finals for the first time in history, and the pride, energy and excitement amongst the locals was perfectly palpable and inspiring to see. Unlike almost every other country with professional soccer (‘football’) teams, in Iceland being a professional footballer is not a well-salaried career job, and all the Icelandic players have other fulltime jobs to get by. Plus being a tiny island nation of only 330,000 people (200,000 of which live either in Reykjavik or its closely surrounding regions), they just don’t have the funds/sponsorship/people power that other European nations have to put behind their teams. This was a true story of where the underdogs put up an excellent fight and made their people so proud. (Photos: courtesy of Aarom Wilson)
Euro Cup- part 2.
The night before we arrived in Iceland we were in fact in Glasgow, Scotland. Iceland played England that evening, and the pub scene was alive on the streets in Glasgow (with all the Scots rooting for Iceland to win too, given the classic Scottish-English rivalry). When Iceland won that game, there were cheers abounding, kilted Scots in the bar where we watched the game ran around and hugged all their friends in exhilaration. We knew at that moment that on our arrival in Reykjavik the next day we would encounter a people filled with pride and joy, and we were not disappointed! (Photo: courtesy of Aarom Wilson)
29 June 2016
The overwhelming highlight of our trip to Iceland was having the opportunity to dry-suit dive at Silfra. Before visiting Iceland an intrepid traveller friend of mine had told me of her adventure fresh-water diving between 2 tectonic plates in Iceland. Instantly I was sold!
The Silfra fissure is located about 40mins away from reykjavik in the Thingvellir national park, and is essentially a chasm in the earth between the Eurasian and north American continental plates. It is one of the most unique dive sites in the world because a) you can dive this fissure right where the plates are moving apart at a rate of approximately 2cm/year, and b) the visibility is the most clear of any site in the world. (Underwater GoPro photography courtesy of PADI instructor Hedinn Olaffson at www.diveiceland.com)
The Silfra dive isn’t particularly deep, we averaged 7-12 metres, however not much is gained from going deeper anyway as there is little marine-life there and for those without their PADI dive licence, you can also snorkel the Silfra site following the same dive trail but from above, and due to the astounding visibility, the snorkeler friend in our group experienced the same breathtaking effects and said he would recommend it to anyone and everyone! We dived with Hedinn Olafsson (www.diveiceland.com) the most experienced Silfra diver in the world, and he is very experienced at taking divers on their first dry suit diving experience at silfra, and would recommend him to anyone due to the excellent communication, attention to safety and calm clear guidance throughout the experience. (Photo courtesy of Hedinn Olafsson at www.diveiceland.com taken on a GoPro silver)
Here's a pic of me touching Silfa's opposing tectonic plates. The visibility can be explained by the fact that it is freshwater and not salt, and that the water is in fact melted glacial water that has seeped over many years through porous volcanic rock (thus acting as an incredible filter) before it even reaches the fissure. The result is over 100m visibility, and mind-bending reflections seen on the under-surface of the air-water interface when you look back up above you. The water is so pure you can drink it (it tastes amazing!).
The temp was a cosy 3 degrees Celsius hence a dry-suit was necessary for this dive. Although there are trout in the adjoining Thingvellir lake, they rarely venture into the Silfra chasm, and hence the dive is not about visualising aquatic life, but rather the incredible visibility, the intensely fluorescent green “troll hair” weeds, and the incredible colours and refraction of light that occurs under the water (Photography courtesy of www.diveiceland.com)