Disney Cruise Line and Its Ports of Call LIVE! Guidebook
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Northern European Itineraries
Though Iceland’s capital is over 200 years old, it all seems fresh, with colorfully-painted buildings covered in stucco or corrugated steel that evoke small-town style. Clean is due in part to “green”—buildings are heated with geothermal hot water and electricity comes from volcanic steam. The snow-capped bulk of the Esja mountains looms just 10km across the water from the cruise pier, a reminder of the rugged volcanic terrain, waterfalls, steaming thermal vents, glaciers, and volcanos (both dormant and active) that mark the dramatically picturesque contryside.
Permanent habitation in Iceland began in Reykjavík around 874 A.D., with the arrival of the Norseman Ingólfur Arnarson (‘though Norse legend says they were greeted by Irish monks). Alþingi, the world’s oldest existing parliament, was founded on the shores of Thingvellir Lake in 930. The island’s chieftains became vassels of the Norwegian crown in 1220, with rule eventually shifting to Denmark. The transition to home rule began in 1874, proceeding in stages until 1944 with the founding of the Icelandic Republic. During those war years British and U.S. forces were “guests” of officially neutral Iceland. Since then, Iceland made headlines when Reykjavík hosted the Fischer-Spassky chess match and the Reagan-Gorbachev Summit, Surtsey rose from the sea, and ash from Eyjafjöll volcano halted European air travel.
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