The sky never sleeps in Iceland. That much became pretty clear to me from the very first day. Thank God for curtains. In the summer, Iceland has long days and short nights, but in the winter, it’s very much the opposite. Someday, I’ll have to come back in the winter to see the aurora.
The day started off with 5 1/2 hours of class at Reykjavik University. Our first lecturer was the Reykjavik University president himself, who gave us a brief introduction to the history of Iceland and its environment. In addition, we had both a geothermal and hydropower energy class. Iceland is a pretty unique country due to its geology and environment. It is very self-sufficient in terms of energy production. About 85% of its energy comes from renewables, making it a pretty green country, and the signs of geothermal use are everywhere. Icelanders use geothermal energy for house heating, bathing, fish farming, cooking, greenhouses as well as power generation. My favorite story of the day was about the origins of the famous Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon actually started off as an environmental disaster. A geothermal power plant nearby was dumping its excess water in a lava field so the water could permeate through the rock. However, the pores in the rock became plugged up by the silica in the excess water and accidentally formed a lagoon. People started bathing there, claiming the lagoon had medicinal properties for the skin. They started charging people for bathing and now the Blue Lagoon is this great and popular tourist attraction.
After class, we headed over to Geotown for lunch. We had bread and soup for lunch, prepared by (you guessed it) using geothermal heat! Then we headed up the mountains for a hike to a hot spring where we planned to bath.
Hiking was pretty fun. We took it slow and I’m glad for this because despite how fit I look (ahhh jokes), I am actually a little out of shape. The weather constantly changes in Iceland. During our hike, sometimes it rained a little. Five minutes later, it would be perfectly nice out. When we finally reached our destination, we stripped down to our swimsuits and it was hot spring time! Did I mention we were bathing in a hot spring?
After bathing, there was the awkward mass struggle of trying to change out of swimsuits and into regular clothes while in the wild. Apparently I missed the memo, because I just put my clothes over my swimsuit. Then there was the hike back down the mountain where I got a painful blister on my right pinky toe and had to limp back to the bus. From then on, I double-socked my feet for every hike, which actually made me run of long socks by the sixth day of the trip. So I guess my word of advice for future GREENers is to pack more socks!
Fun fact of the day: Iceland is the largest banana producer in Europe! Yes, you heard me right. Bananas!