Well Friends – I’m gonna try something new with this post. PICTURES. Someone call CNN because this is breaking news (and we all know they use that term liberally). In past I’ve been close to the laziest person on earth and haven’t done this BUT, I figured there’s always time to change, right?
Today, even though for all intents and purposes was a shorter day than yesterday, feels EVEN longer to me. I’m not sure if its because I’m still kinda jet lagged or because the dodgy breakfast I ate (more on this later) made me queasy all morning. Or maybe I’m just bad at keeping track of time. We got up this morning around 8:30 and packed our bags and headed off for breakfast (and settled up the damage from last night’s splash on dinner). Now, I’m pretty adventurous when it comes to food. So, I figured a little herring in dill and mustard sauce, a boiled egg and yogurt would make a good breakfast. Boy was I wrong, after we got Cricket (the car) packed I started feeling nauseous and things kind of went downhill from there until we got to Skaftafell. But, Gravol and Immodium were my saviours and avoided any crisis that might have arisen from my GI tract.
After getting gas in Vík, and a few postcards, we were on our way to Höfn. All in all, today’s drive was about 275km. Which isn’t too bad by Canadian standards BUT, roads in Iceland are not the same as at home. Firstly, the Ring Road (Rte 1) around the country is for the most part a 2 lane highway – which is fine, but its SUPER narrow and tourists are shit at driving. Daylan and I make it a point to stay at the 90 km/h speed limit, but for some reason no one else does. Because the road has so many twists and turns and FUN things like one lane bridges this is the best speed and why people go faster is beyond me. Also, I’ve notice that they don’t really like signs here, so you just kind of hope and pray you’re going the right way which is a fun time. Especially if you’re like me. But, we dealt with it like the true Canadians we are.
Daylan was a true champ for putting up with my grumpy ass this morning (if you’re reading this thank u bbg xoxo) and for being a great driver. She had to drive over a 305m one lane bridge too which is always a fun time. Today’s drive (and most likely all of those in the future) are different from yesterday’s – there aren’t too too many big things to see a long the way so it’s just a matter of stopping where we feel like it to enjoy the scenery.
After driving for a bit we were shocked to see how quickly the scenery changed. It went from pastoral around Vik into very harsh Geothermal lands quite quickly. As we drove through the Geothermal area we started driving through an area that looked like Mars almost. In 1783 a Volcano erupted (and messed up Europe pretty badly), and lava from it came through lava ducts and emerged from the ground in this Area. Since then all the rocks have been covered by moss. It’s super hard to describe without showing a picture – which is great because I’ll put one in. Look at me go.
We noticed a science lookout over the lava fields and took a quick walk through the rocks. Some spots on the rocks were super squishy due to the amount of moss. After pictures and the walk we headed back to the car and kept trucking. As we kept driving, the huge Vatnajökull glacier started to appear before us. This glacier is the one of the largest in Europe and is so big you can see it on a satellite image. It is absolutely insane to see how much the glacier has receded over time – and really makes you question Donald Trump’s statement about Global Warming being a “nice idea”. After that giant one lane bridge I mentioned, we noticed another scenic lookout and decided to pull over. This one was one of the most interesting as we learned that in 1998 the bridge we had just crossed was completely washed out due to a volcanic eruption and ensuing flooding from glacial melting.
Back on the highway, we wanted to go closer to the glaciers and noticed that all of the buses were turning left at a road. So, we decided to follow them, and we soon stumbled upon the Skaftafell entrance to the Vatnajökull National Park. Not only did this have bathrooms (thank god) we soon learned that one of the coolest waterfalls in Iceland was here – Svartifoss. As I was feeling better, we decided to take on the 8km hike to the waterfall. Even though it was pretty steep at some points – it was totally worth it and it is definitely one of the things that I would recommend everyone do here.
We made it up to the waterfall and took pictures (duh.) and just stood in awe at the forces of nature. I also filled up my water bottle because free water. The trek down was a lot easier than the way up and we were down (and hungry) in no time! We wanted to keep trekking to Höfn because by now we were only about a third of the way, so we mowed down some protein bars in the car for lunch and were at Jokulsarlon in about 45 minutes.
Jokulsarlon was probably the highlight of my day. This is a lagoon that is filled with Icebergs that have broken off of a glacier that feeds Vatnajökull. It was also on the Amazing Race (my favourite TV shows) which was pretty cool! We decided to take an amphibious vehicle tour of the lagoon which was amazing. Not only did we learn about the history of the lagoon (the ice is 1000 years old!) we also got to see some seals and taste the ice! The thing that I found craziest is that the scenery in the lagoon is constantly changing. In the time we were there (1.5 hours at most) many glaciers had broken apart due to the afternoon sun and some had flipped. Nature is truly an incredible thing – and trips like this remind you how small and insignificant you are to the world (you know, all those fun things).
After having our socks knocked off, we were back on the road. I was a better passenger this afternoon and we were consistently in a state of awe when looking at the scenery. I don’t know how many times we got passed in the final leg of driving today – but , we were safe and it came in handy when some sheep crossed the road! Which is a thing here – fun and casual. (Fun fact: if you hit one you have to pay the driver what he thinks its worth). Overall today’s driving lesson was go slow and stay on the road. we had passed people this morning who thought they could drive on the gravel off road in their jellybean car, which is stupid and illegal.
We were checking into the hotel about an hour after leaving Jokulsarlon and were starving. Our hotel tonight is called Milk Factory and is a milk factory that has been converted into a hotel/Ikea lookalike (literally I feel like I’m walking around a catalogue). After consulting my trusty guidebook (Lonely Planet is bae) we found a cheap place for dinner and were there in short order.
Hafnarbu∂in (where we ate dinner) was an absolute treat – not only was it cheap, the place was super cozy, the staff super helpful and the food was amazing. I had a Langoustine Sandwich (made with local langoustine) and a coke – for a third of what we paid for dinner yesterday! Incredibly worth it.
Back at the hotel, I napped again (oops!), showered and sat down to write a few postcards! That’s all folks! Tomorrow is our drive to Eglisstadir – and we start heading north! Its crazy to think that we’ve pretty much driven across the southern coast in two days.