Took a leisurely leave from Vik this morning to make our way back to Reykjavik. Stumbled upon Seljalandsfoss, which happened to be one of the waterfalls on my must do list. This is one of the ones that you can walk behind. We were soooo glad to have good rain gear, without it we would have been thoroughly soaked! Checked into our hotel in Reykjavik around 3, with plenty of time for a bite and to clean up for the symphony. Haarpa is a magnificent concert hall, so many wonderful angles and views. We attended the world premier of Edda II: The Lives of the Gods. Wonderful symphony that I would have been able to appreciate a little more if I could have understood a single word that was sung. Back to the hotel to get ready for our early morning flight back to the states.
Big but very relaxed day today! We left Djúpivogur very early in order to make it to Skaftafell for the ice cave and glacier tour. On the way we stopped at Jökulsárlón Lagoon and Diamond Beach for some more iceberg viewing, Today, the tide was coming in very quickly and the icebergs were flowing back into the lagoon. It was dramatically different than it was yesterday, spectacular both days though! The Ice Cave and Glacier tour was everything I hoped it would be, Arctic Adventures gave us helmets, crampons and ice picks. After a 45 minute ride in a tundra bus they broke us up into groups of ~10 people so that we could experience the wilderness without crowds. The Ice cave and Skaftafell glacier were amazing, this is expensive but is a MUST DO item if you can make it happen on your trip to Iceland. There are three animals that live on the glacier, 2 ravens and an arctic fox, we were visited by one of the ravens while hiking around, she was really cool. After the tour, we checked out the waterfall at Skaftáhreppur on our way back to Vik. Hoping for an active aurora on the beach here in Vik tonight!
Headed East from Vik and into just about every weather pattern possible in 40f temps. We had drizzle, rain, drizzle, beautiful clear skies for sunset, then were socked in with fog. Stopped on the side of the road to play in the moss for a bit, that was really neat, it was like walking on clouds! I want to roll around on it in warmer weather. Jökulsárlón Lagoon was spectacular, lots of icebergs floating down the river into the ocean, great scenery. Diamond Beach was delightful with chunks of ice of all sizes washed up on the shoreline. They truly looked like large diamonds scattered on the black sand and rocks. Further East and North, we saw reindeer on the sides of the road, getting close enough for some pretty good photos with my phone! The landscape changed near Djúpivogur from gentle slopes easing into the water to steep mountainsides dropping directly into the water. We were able to catch a beautiful sunset on the coastline before the fog set in. Made it into town just in time for some wonderful fish and chips next door to the harbor and processing plant across from out cabin for the night. Excited about the Ice Cave and Glacier tour tomorrow!
Woohoo, no closed roads today! Headed North out of Laugarvatn to work our way around the Golden Circle. Strokkur exploded for us several times, got some great photos. Gullfoss was exactly what I thought it would be, powerful impressive multilevel waterfall with hundreds of tourists around it, still a great must see experience. Stopped in to explore Hjalparfoss, we had the entire waterfall to ourselves. There were only 4 other sightseeers while we were there! Drove a gravel road with Hekla in our sights and white lava rock covering the landscape. This would have been a harrowing drive in blizzard conditions. Made it to Vik and found the last room at the Einarsstadir Homestead for a reasonable price. The innkeeper, Andrew, was extremely friendly and directed us to a good restaurant and pointed us to the beach trail for some introspection and stargazing. The massive black beach is a quick 5 minute walk from Einarsstadir. We headed to the beach right after sunset passing some old earth huts built near the edge of the cliffs. It was almost a religious experience watching the skies turn from light blue to deep dark blue, then to black with thousands of stars shimmering at us. While sitting on a rock outcropping both Kat and I were bombarded by birds that flew overhead, scoring direct hits on both of us. Kat tells me it’s good luck to have a bird shit on your head. I’m not sure if I believe her on this one! Vik is a neat little town, I’d really love to return in the summer when the Puffins come back to town.
It was dfficult getting to sleep after seeing such an amazing Aurora Borealis last night. This morning we left Hotel Hafnarfjall and headed into Borgarbygga to fuel up the 4wd and stock up on snacks at the Bonus. The plan was basically to head mostly East and end up somewhere on the Golden Circle. Well, after checking out Deildartunguhver (hot springs,) Hraunfossar (waterfall,) and Barnafoss (waterfall,) we found that the road ahead of us was listed as an “F” road and closed until the summertime, so we backtracked. The paper map we had listed an alternate route that was NOT an “F” road so we took that. After at least 50km of both brand new paved road and gravel roads we were greeted by a road closed sign and were forced to backtrack once again. After about 6 hours later we passed our departure point and began making forward progress. Driving through the Thingvellir National Park from the North American to the Eurasian tectonic plates we finally reached our destination of Laugarvatn. Found a great room at the Galleri Laugarvatn, and are now preparing for a solid sleep!
Got off to a late start this morning, headed East on 54 from Stykkisholmur and circled the peninsula before ending up at the Hotel Hafnarfjall outside of Borgarnes. Wonderful day of exploring black beaches, forests (a thicket of pine trees,) lava caves, and insanely rugged terrain. It rained on us off an on all day long, showing us several rainbows. Stopped at the black beach at Djupalonssandur before our caving adventure, and decided that 1 hour just wasn’t enough time at the beach, so we went back for a much more detailed inspection! After a quick dinner at the Grill House, we hit made out way back to the hotel, immediately upon hopping in the hottub the Northern Lights began a fantastic show, dancing across the skies in reds and greens! Trying to get some sleep to prepare for another exciting day tomorrow.
Did some morning shopping then spent the day driving from Reykjavik to Stykkisholmur. Lots of great things to see along the way. Waterfalls, ice lakes, volcanoes, glaciers, mountains and islands everywhere. Drove into Stykkisholmur and found a wonderful BnB for less than $100/night. After a great meal of scallops, cod, tusk and sole, we called it a night. Too cloudy for the northern lights, keeping our fingers crossed for the rest of the week. Heading out on one of the Western peninsulas for some lava cave exploring tomorrow.
Today was spent recovering from the flights and trying to stay awake to get acclimated to GMT. We explored in and around Reykjavik. Some of today’s highlights included Haarpa Concert Hall, Hafnin (the harbor,) and Sólfarið – Sun Voyager (a beautiful piece on the Sculpture and Shore walk.) And yes we hit “that” museum! After a wonderful, but expensive, meal at Hafnin we retired to the smallest hotel room that I have ever had to rest our weary bodies. Looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings.
Safe and sound here in Reykjavik! 20 hours total travel time from when I left Ripple to when we secured in our rental car. All three of yesterday’s flights were packed like sardines, but Delta delivered us AND our luggage safe and sound within 15 minutes of our expected arrival time.
Made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare, somehow both of us made the TSA pre-check list! Soon we will be in the air on our way… At this point even the 15-hour upcoming flight time doesn’t hinder the excitement.