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Journal of a Seaplane Cruise Around The World
Part One: The Atlantic Ocean

Sunday, September 2 - A Drive Around Iceland

Angmagssalik to Reykjavik We have just returned from a visit to the wireless telegraph station, about a mile distant. A pleasant walk, through lanes of houses to a ridge top and on. Houses prefer tin, as far as roofs go - set back from streets with fence and vegetable garden in front. Mostly drab, and I shall remember Reykjavik as a gray city, with odd men in black coats and hats; lanky, stern open features; staring and curious, and with no warmth of manner. Always seem to be saying; "You've gotten in here. What are you doing? What do you want?" The women are less forbidding, and there is occasionally an elderly person in black dress and bright apron, with saucer black cap and braids tied up, all under a veil.

A wireless operator named Olafur Jonsson, was busy at work. He is one of 4 or 5 operators. The manager is F. Adalsteinsson, a portly man with a shortened right leg. Quick, pleasant, he volunteered to show us the entire plant: long and short wave, C.W. and I.C.W., short wave and middle wave phone. The phone was most interesting, for the government rents to the small fishing vessels portable 10 watt phone sets, for $25.00 a year. Their range is 200 miles or more, and constant watch is kept for them on the part of the coast along which they are fishing: herring on the north coast in the summer cod in the south in the winter. The ship's captain can learn to use the instrument, for it is very simple and has a regular telephone handle. Often useful in emergencies, to summon help.

He said that our signals were strong from the start (C. Mosting and C. Farvel, 600 m. away). His station suffered from the same magnetic storm as we did, and failed to work Norway during the appearance of the Aurora Borealis.

This afternoon (Sunday) Hallgringsson very kindly took us on a long drive. We were accompanied by C.L. Schibsbye, a Danish public accountant, who has been sent to Reykjavik on an auditing job. We had a very pleasant trip of nearly fifty miles to Thingvalla, which is the center of historical interest in Iceland. It was here that the first parliament assembled in the year 930 A.D., at the bottom of a great natural fissure which forms an amphitheatre between walls of black volcanic rock. The meetings were probably held in the open, as there are no buildings about. The millenium celebration took place here 4 years ago, to the accompaniment of much pageantry. We climbed the ridge in order better to appreciate the natural beauty of the ravine into which a waterfall tumbles, and since we were secure from observation our host brought out a flask from which we surreptitiously repeated the practice of Lord Duffering, who boasted during his visit to Iceland: "with the peculiar manners used in Scandinavian skoal-drinking I was already well acquainted". Hum!

Nearby was a beautiful deep blue pool into which travellers throw coins for good luck. The water is so cold and so deep that nobody ever goes down to fish them out. It is the pool where they used to duck the bad girls.

After having tea in a little house on the edge of Lake Thingvalla, we came back in the late afternoon, stopping on the way to see both outdoor and indoor swimming pools which are fed by hot springs. I do not blame the Icelander for demanding that his bath water be preheated!

We are trying to obtain late weather reports tonight so as to get off tomorrow, but have not been able to get into the Meteorological Bureau. We shall probably have to make the decision in the morning.

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