Iceland – Days 4-6

Here it is,

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The last chance I have to talk about Iceland before I move onto new horizons and actually talk about my life. Are you ready?

Regardless…

Day 4 – June 3rd- South Coast of Waterfalls, Glaciers, and Puffins

Before we start, I have to tell you that you should click each photo to enlarge it, when you can. If you don’t, you’ll not only be missing out on more detailed photos but also humorous and informative commentary.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Eyjafjallajökull Glacier? It experienced a volcanic eruption back in 2010 that brought Iceland to the forefront of international attention due to the closure of international air space over Europe for six days. It also brought havoc to the Þorvaldseyri farm, which I have a picture of here.

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An informational plaque which I got a picture of.

Here’s a nice video of the eruption, coincidentally set to a song from my favorite band, Sigur Rós, who is from Iceland and probably the image of the Icelandic music scene, along with Björk (though the Icelandic music scene is much larger than Sigur Rós and Björk; if you would like to talk more about that, hit me up).

And then a photo stop, in which I snapped one of my favorite photos from the trip. It’s literally just clothes hanging on a fence in the middle of nowhere but it speaks to me.

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The hidden people wear clothes, too.

But the real reason of the stop: waterfall!

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I don’t recall if this waterfall has a name. It’s probably safe to say it ends with foss (foss means waterfall).

Now we have Skógafoss, probably my favorite waterfall:

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A guy on the bus had this bill (the same guy who gave me a bite of his Icelandic chocolate when I asked him if it was good – it was) and I asked if I could see it so I could take a picture…  I didn’t ever end up exchanging any cash in Iceland, so I kinda wanted to see it. When you travel, you must have no shame (but also don’t be rude).

Then came the lunch stop at Vik. I got the traditional lamb soup, for the third, and certainly not last, time that week. It was cheap and there were free refills (pretty sure I got three). You can’t go wrong with lamb soup. I sat with a family from Singapore who had also been on my Golden Circle tour. The daughter Sophie was 16 and went to boarding school in London. She didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life yet.. or did she know exactly what she wanted to do? I can’t remember. It was one of the two. She may have wanted to be a doctor. Her dad was a businessman who worked in London. Both of them had British accents. The mother  didn’t have a British accent, at least she said she didn’t. I’m not very good with accents. All three of them were some of the nicest, and best dressed, people I have had the pleasure to meet. I found myself with the desire to visit Singapore; maybe I’ll run into them again someday…

I actually got a picture of them at Seljalandsfoss, totally unintentionally:

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That’s the father at the edge and Sophie in the white jacket. Where is mother?

More on Seljalandsfoss later. In Vik, or very near Vik, is Reynisfjara Beach, which is famous for its black sand and basalt rock columns. Those columns are actually what inspired the hexagonal shape of the walls of the Harpa Concert Hall.

I was expecting a lot from this beach. It’s one of those images that pops into my head every time someone asks the dreaded question, “so, why Iceland?” with that quizzical, slightly confused look on their face.

It was pretty, but it was windy and cold, and I just wasn’t feeling it. I went into the cafe and listened to the girl I was hanging with complain about how she’s so addicted to technology she’d rather sit there where there’s WiFi than be out seeing the nature. But to be fair, it was windy and cold I was in there with her.

After that our tour guide drove us up to a cape, where we got the real view of Reynisfjara:

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No puffins here, just a pretty picture and a seagull.

Our tour guide also treated us to the Dyrhólaey Puffin Colony, since we hadn’t seen any puffins yet. I for one was very excited to see these little guys/gals. Ever since my grandparents went to Alaska when I was a small child and brought me back a puffin bank, I’ve thought puffins are pretty cool. I had never seen one.

Your eyes may tell you otherwise, but there are puffins in both these photos. Click to enlarge (and press the “esc” key to get out).

And nooow *drum roll* we have Sólheimajökull Glacier! Probably THEE coolest thing you’ll see today (sorry puffins).

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Here is a video I uploaded. Starring Oskaar, ft. Sophie.

And now we have some troll houses:

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And no drones:

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Though drones were in fact seen that day

 

We have finally arrived at Seljalandsfoss!

I will not give you even a fraction of the pictures I took of this. That would just be ridiculous.

But I’ll give you a fair amount.

 

And then straight to the house in Reykjavik where Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan had their historical peace speech. I guess you could say the Cold War ended in Iceland? (Probably not; that’s probably an overstatement).

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Eleven hours later, the tour was over! I believe it was that evening that I was walking around the streets of Reykjavik and ran into a woman who was staying in my hostel room. We went to dinner together at Fish & More (the second time I’d been there; the first time I had dinner there was with three hot girls, one of them a model from New York who passed around a photo from a nude photo shoot she had done on the lava fields of Iceland, one an infectious redhead from Portland who has the most amazing curly hair and has never asked anybody for money, and the other a Canadian who has an amazing career in investment banking; and then there was me, a small town girl with nothing to show for herself except for the fact that she was there, halfway across the world). Anyway, to recover from that tangent, the woman’s name is Dami. She’s originally from the Netherlands but has been living in Oregon for a long time now. She loves it there; she loves the nature. She’s a writer and a life coach, and dang, it was nice talking to her. She’s one of those people who you feel like you’ve known your entire life, and can talk about anything with, and you’re not sure if you’ll ever meet someone like that again. We talked about writing and life and working. She told me I might have to get a job as a barista or something before I find a marketing job, to tell those interviewers “look, there are so many marketers out there, I had to do what I had to do to provide for myself.” That is exactly what I’m trying to do now, so I thank her for giving me that push I needed. Check out her blog! She ended up paying for my meal, which I’m sure hoping was her intention. I believe she said, while we were eating, “let me take you to dinner”, so I took that to mean she wanted to pay my bill, so I said, “are you sure?”, and later asked again if she was sure she wanted to pay for me. She said yes, but there will always be part of my brain that tells me that was never her intention and I’m a massive letdown to polite society. Ah well.

Oh, another thing about that evening. Before I ran into Dami I had gone into this Vegetarian joint that ended up having the best dairy-free, sugar-free brownies. I got two- a raspberry mocha one and a “Snickers” one. I ate more than half of both of them at Fish & More while Dami had tea and cake. I will dream about that Snickers brownie ’til the day I die, and after I die, I hope I’m surrounded by those things. I hope heaven is in that restaurant (it’s called Glo, if you ever find yourself in Reykjavik).

Day 5 – June 4th- Reykjanes Peninsula & The Blue Lagoon

So, my last full day in Iceland was spent on one last tour – the Reykjanes Peninsula. I was mostly in a daze and just along for the ride on this one. I was so tuckered out from the day before. Oskaar was my tour guide on this day as well (he had done the South Coast tour; my Golden Circle tour was done by a younger guy named Baldwin (I am impressed that I still remember that name, wow)), so I spent a lot of time hanging around and talking to him. We were kind of like buddies by this point (“so, how is my friend doing today?” he asked when we pulled up at the lake; I had been watching a guy climb up the bluff that was on the other side of the road and was so out of it I thought Oskaar was talking about that guy so I just shrugged; but then he asked again and I realized he was asking how I was doing and I was just wow, Oskaar is so nice and I’m so dumb; embarrassing).

The first thing we saw was the Perlan, which is in Reykjavik. It offers a panoramic view of the city and is actually a restaurant rotating on top of the water tanks that provide the city hot water. I’m not kidding. They held a contest for the most creative way to turn water tanks into something beautiful. Characteristically Icelandic.

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Then we saw the house in which the president of Iceland lives, which was super cool. It’s about a ten minute drive out of Reykjavik. We saw one security guard but other than that the place was deserted. Not exactly the White House, aye? I love you Iceland, I love you so much.

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Then we stopped at this viking village which was super lame and touristy; kinda wish we hadn’t stopped, but here’s a couple pictures anyway for the sake of documentation:

 

Then we saw some dried fish spines and heads, which they ship to Africa to be used for soup.

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Here’s the lake I mentioned earlier, Kleifarvatn:

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The rocks are just orange like that.

Next up was Krýsuvik geothermal area, where I fell in love with the textures and contrasts of Iceland (as a side note, sulfur reeks; if you’re wondering what the smell of Iceland it – it’s seafood and sulfur; most of the hot water in Reykjavik actually smells of sulfur, but not the cold water since that come from a completely different source):

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After that we saw a shipwreck in a lava field, which was pretty cool I guess. I just wish I has been wearing better shoes, but sadly, my Doc Martens had torn up my feet and I couldn’t wear them that day.

My climb up the hill was rewarded though by a good view of the ocean:

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Lunch was in Grindavik (which, fun fact, is the setting of the video for Sigur Rós’s new song Óveður). What was for lunch, you ask? Why, lamb stew, of course! And again, free refills. The guy who was working at the place said it was his grandmother’s recipe, and he seemed very proud of it (or was he talking about the lobster soup?) Anyway, the place was serving two different kinds of soup – lamb and lobster, if you haven’t gathered- in gigantic pots that you served yourself from. The lamb soup, almost gone, was mostly just broth, so the aforementioned guy personally brought me out a bowl that had an appropriate proportion of meat and vegetables and broth. I thought that was nice. People are so nice in Iceland.

Next on the schedule was Gunnuhver geothermal area. Rad stuff.

It was actually named after a ghost, Gunna:

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Next on the tour was my favorite part of the day, the tip of the Reykjanes Peninsula, where you can walk right up the cape and look out over the ocean and sea cliffs. It was serene and magical. The ocean always puts everything into perspective for me. Sadly, the camera on my phone decided it was completely done with taking decent pictures. Well, for the most part. I still got a few good ones. God I love the ocean.

The tour also included a stop at the Bridge Between Continents, which is honestly just embarrassing.

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To the left you have the Eurasion plate, and to the right is the North American plate; you cross a little bridge to get across, but really it’s not that big of a deal. I would rather have still been at the ocean. But- that’s just me.

The last part of the tour was the Blue Lagoon, the most famous of sites in Iceland. I heard over 70% of visitors to Iceland go to it, which makes sense since it’s about 25 minutes from the Keflavik airport. You can arrange for your airport transfer to stop at the Blue Lagoon. GeoIceland gives you the option of either just sightseeing the place or paying for a ticket to use the amenities, which you have to book days in advance. I’m not a big fan of being in water (kind of ironic since I’ve been going off about how much I love the ocean, right? I like watching the ocean) so I didn’t particularly feel like paying the $40 to get the true Blue Lagoon experience, which is really just an overpriced, man-made tourist trap anyway. Sorry guys, but unless you’re the spa-type, it probably isn’t worth it. A better option (in my opinion, of course) would be dipping into the local swimming pools, where you can also apparently catch up on the local gossip (I, sadly, never got time to go to one, but they’re all the rage; pools are very important in Icelandic culture).

The tour is done, and I’m back in 12 Tonar! Surprise, Surprise! I had to go in there one last time before going home. It took a lot of self control not to buy another CD or a t-shirt or something.

I also caught the back of Hallgrimskirkja, finally.

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Why hello there ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

I forgot to mention I had quiche that morning, only notable because that was the first quiche I’d ever eaten.

I also forgot to talk about these awesome fruit and nut bars I found at the 24/7 market in Reykjavik, which are made in Britain and are delicious and ridiculously healthy, like so healthy I could actually eat them. I need to scour America for these goodies….

Day 6 – June 5th – Going Home 

My flight left at 11:30, so I had to wake up relatively early to catch the 8AM FlyBus out of Reykjavik to the airport. I luckily made the 20 minute walk down the streets of Reykjavik to the bus terminal, suitcase rolling, with no problems. The bus ride went much better than the one to Reykjavik, thank goodness. All was well!

Goodbye, Iceland!

Ok, one more thing about Iceland. Cousin Oskaar is at least 25% of the reason why I went to Iceland, so you should watch this video, for context [caution: language] (Cousin Oskaar is not tour guide Oskaar; tour guide Oskaar might even spell it Oskar, or Oscar, how should I know?).

Think about me Dave, tell your friends…

***

More than 9 hours after starting this post, I kind of never want to hear mention of Iceland or see a computer ever again… only kidding…. but seriously, why do I write such long blong posts all at once? I mean, I can’t even write “long blog”… did you see what just happened??? I’m not even sure what life is right now.

Expect a stupid poem tomorrow sometime maybe.

 

Until we meet again,

 

Andrea

xx

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