Friday, July 4, 2014

Craziest Pool Location, Glacier Walking and Other Iceland Adventures

Whoo-wee! Our days are so full. Have I mentioned I freaking LOVE ICELAND?? There aren't enough hours in the day to do everything. We woke on Wednesday to this:
A patch of blue sky! We started our journey toward Skogar on the south coast, stopping at an old volcanic crater.
As we got closer to Skogar it started to rain again, but it's strange how it often doesn't matter, especially when you're already getting wet walking behind a waterfall, like we did near Skogar.
Skogar is a very cool little town. Now here's the thing: When you say little town in Iceland, you really really mean little - as in a handful of buildings. With only 320,000 inhabitants in the country, and 200,000 of them in Reykjavik, you can go for a long time without seeing much evidence of human habitation, aside from the odd farm or three. So Skogar is tiny, but oh so oddly charming. Lovely people, surprisingly great food, and the starting point for amazing hikes. That afternoon - at the tail end of the bad storm that had come in the day before - we hiked up to this geothermal pool in the mountain that a local had told us about. You can see the weather below.
It had been raining so much we had to ford a river, boots and socks off, wading through in icy waters, to get there. But it was worth it.

Honestly the best view I've ever had from any kind of pool!  We had a great dinner that night at the hostel just down the road from our hotel, arctic char and of course good Viking beer. 

The next morning we woke to much better weather, and hiked the first bit of an epic and famous hike to "Thorsmork." When I come back to Iceland - and I will - I will plan our trip to do this entire 22 km hike. It takes you past part of - Eyjarfjallajokull, the volcano that erupted in 2010, halting air traffic for a week. We didn't make it that far, but the part we hiked was spectacular.

Then it was down the highway, eastward, to Vik. I'll let the photos do the talking. Again, spectacularly beautiful and so different again.

After visiting the promontory at "Deerlay" (Canadian version of a much more complicated word) and seeing tons of nesting birds we had lunch in this dear little place below, in Vik. Delicious marinated lamb sandwiches.

Vik is a 'big town' comparatively speaking - and what you see below is mostly what you get. Some of the villages remind me of a cross between a Swedish village and a Newfoundland village, a blend of old and new(er).
After lunch we visited the black sand beaches at Vik with their amazing basalt formations. Finally we came to rest near a town with a spectacularly unpronounceable name, Kirkjubaejarklaustur.  Our accommodations were unremarkable but we had a fantastic dinner at a place in (above mentioned town), Systrakaffi.
Doesn't look particularly appetizing, does it? But it was! Fish stew, and amazing, along with that rye bread that they bake in the earth - it cooks in the geothermal steam.

This morning, July 4, we were up bright and early to head to Vatnajokull National Park and Skaftafell, for a 4 hour glacier hike. This was possibly the highlight of the trip so far, in a trip already filled with highlights. Here is our little group - we three, and three very funny Lithuanians. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

 That's our guide with us, I think you spell his name "Thorsten," except the "th" would be one of their unique "p's" that I can't do on my laptop or don't know how to.

It was a crazy and phenomenal experience. I've never been so high up on a glacier, and walking between the ridges etc. Amazing. After eating lunch we drove further southeast to the Glacier Lagoon, or Jokulsarlon. Again, otherworldly. Well, aside from all the touri, as we call the plural of "tourist." Of course, we were among them.

There were tons of arctic terns there, and their chicks had recently hatched, and they were defending them to the death! Son got dive-bombed over and over again. Me, being shorter, well they went for the tallest people! Here are a bunch of terns resting on a wee iceberg.
Then we drove ... and drove ... toward the beginning of the east fjords. Thanks to our guide book we knew we had to take a short detour toward a radar station, down a gravel road, to this little place - the Viking cafe. So charming, and great waffles, and a lovely young man working there who we chatted with for a long time. We chat with a lot of the locals, and they are all so friendly and open. Afterward we walked to the set of a Viking village, built for a film that has yet to be shot. 

And at long last, we arrived in Djupovogur, an utterly charming in a "Seducing Dr. Lewis" kind of way, seaside town. That's our hotel, above. Love it here. We had dinner at the restaurant (great) then walked over to this old and very Swedish looking cafe for cake and a bit of World Cup soccer. Tomorrow we continue our journey, to Myvatn in the north, where we will stay for three nights. 
More in a couple of days ... for now, some r and r, and perhaps another episode of "Orphan Black" on iTunes!


  1. thanks for taking me on your travels. Great pictures and description!