Click on title to view photo in large format: Dunmore Head, located on the western tip of Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula. In the foreground is Coumeenoole Beach, where portions of the film Ryan’s Daughter were filmed. I shot this photo while sitting on the front lawn of a small cafe atop Slea Head, which with Dunmore Head, forms the westernmost point of Ireland. Under brilliant sunshine, I eased into a wooden rocking chair and spent a leisurely hour Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format: Old stone cottages sit side-by-side with new homes in the town of Kenmare on the Kerry Peninsula in Ireland. Kenmare is the southern entry to the famous Ring of Kerry drive, which follows the coastline around the Iveragh peninsula. Considered to be one of the most dramatic scenic drives in the country, it offers gorgeous views of wind-swept beaches, rolling hillsides, and exquisite green pasture lands. South of Kenmare Read More
The winters are long, cold, and dark in Iceland. As such, I had expected Icelanders to be a somber lot, patiently awaiting their few brief weeks of summer each year. I found quite the opposite – they were happy, upbeat, and kept me laughing with their unique self-deprecating sense of humor. The following are some funny facts about Iceland that were shared by locals during my stay in Reykjavik:
I never saw a single police officer or squad car during my week in Iceland. I was told they’re too busy with their Instagram page to patrol the streets. The truth is that crime is so low in Iceland that they could probably do without a police force, but it’s also true that the police department has more than a quarter million followers on Instagram. Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format: With razor-sharp, tortured lava formations everywhere, the volcanic landscape of Iceland felt otherworldly to me. Iceland has the dubious honor of having more active volcanoes and volcanic activity than anywhere else on the planet. The mid-Atlantic ridge rises from the ocean floor to split the island in two. The eastern half of the country lies atop the Eurasian tectonic plate, while the western portion rides on the American plate. Deep beneath the mantle, a volcanic hot spot lies between the two plates, which are spreading apart at a rate of approximately two centimeters (about .8 inch) per year. Volcanic lava wells up from below, continually creating new landmass as the island expands.
I was struck by how Icelanders live in a landscape that, to most of us, would seem uninhabitable. For miles, nothing but black lava, white ice, and blue skies are visible. Then, suddenly, a small village would appear, with houses built on whatever small patch of flat black rock was available. Often, these structures were completely surrounded and dwarfed by lava formations as high as the roofs. Remarkably, in the desolate, barren volcanic landscape of Iceland, where the only thing that grows are moss and lichen, Icelanders have figured out a way not only to exist, but to thrive.
Click on title to view photo in large format: Hallgrimskirkja Church in Reykjavik is the sixth tallest and most impressive man-made structure in Iceland. The 244-foot tall tower took more than 40 years to complete and the design reflects the geologic formations that result when basalt lava cools slowly. Since it is visible from almost anywhere within the capital city, I used it as a landmark. My rental apartment was just down the street from the church, thus I could always find my way home without Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format: I wandered into the Reykjavik City Hall almost by mistake. I’d been walking along the shore of the Tjornin, a shallow body of water that everyone calls “The Pond,” when I came to a long bridge. On the other side sat a building that was the epitome of architectural minimalism, if not downright Brutalism. Curious, I stepped inside and discovered I was in the Reykjavik City Hall. Despite being the seat of government, there were no guards in sight, no checkpoints, no Read More