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To Reykjavík i Go – Day Five (Part Two)

1 October, 2014

Iceland exists because of the North American and European tectonic plates. The two continental slices of the planet rub and scrape against each other, and occasionally the pressure this creates results in a volcanic eruption. Lava spurts from fissures in the earth’s surface, and then cools to form rock. Some of this rock formed an island in the North Atlantic, and today we call it Iceland.

In South West Iceland is Þingvellir (pronounced Thingvellir) National Park, an enormous rift valley along the exact line where the continents meet. Even more than Gúllfoss earlier, Þingvellir demonstrates the power of nature, how insignificant the human race is. The Park is ringed with mountains, themselves formed by volcanic eruption and continental drift, and between them is a vast lake and an expansive plain, filling the space left as the continents move over millions of years. Wounds in the ground show where the land has literally torn as a result of this movement, and a fifty-foot high wall of rock is evidence that one plate has risen in relation to its neighbour. To see the strata of different ages of rock in the wall is to look at geological history. It is humbling to see, and at the same time breathtakingly beautiful.

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The name Þingvellir means “parliament field”, because from the year 930 to 1271 the national parliament met in this exact spot:

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This was clearly hundreds of years before tectonic theory so they could have no idea they were meeting at such a geologically important spot.

And so the Golden Circle tour drew to a close and we headed back to Reykjavík where I called briefly into the hostel before heading off to watch the football. I can’t explain how delighted I was to find out that Iceland were playing at home while I was visiting, and since, two weeks before I arrived, I had managed to secure a ticket, I had been full of excitement. And so, it seems, were the Iceland fans. It was a great atmosphere, the crowd proudly and loudly sang their anthem and roared the team on. I joined in with shouts of encouragement or of questioning the referee’s decisions, sadly all in English on my part. But I had learnt one phrase “Áfram Ísland!” (Come on Iceland!) and every time this chant went up from the crowd I chanted it too. I was loving it. Then Iceland’s superiority in the first half paid off and they took the lead. The crowd went wild. Turkey started to get into the game a bit, but at half time it was 1-0.

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Turkey carried on threatening after half-time, and nerves spread inbetween the songs, but Iceland got back on top. Turkey then had a man sent off and shortly afterwards, the second goal came. The euphoria levels were even higher than the first goal – this time they could sense a victory and an upset. And when a minute later a long range shot bounced in off the bar to make it 3-0 Iceland the result was assured. A brilliant win for Iceland, a fantastic night, and I was there at Laugardalsvöllur to witness it. My only regret was that I had forgotten to take the Iceland scarf I had bought the day before, but that couldn’t spoil my delight. Every time I have been to an Iceland game they have won. And I’ve never even seen them concede a goal. How many fans can say that of their team?

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