We woke up and had breakfast at Hótel Lækur.
And headed out …
Have I mentioned that we traveled the Ring Road (or Route 1)? It’s an 828 mile route around the island that connects most of the inhabited parts of the country. The highlands cover most of the interior of Iceland and are uninhabitable. The roads to/through the highlands were all closed when we were there since they’re only open late June – August. We didn’t have a 4WD drive, anyway, and were expressly forbidden from attempting any craziness and were given a map by the car rental people showing where we weren’t allowed to go – so we stuck with the Ring Road. Happily.
Our driving plan for the day:
This was our longest drive of the trip – and likely the most scenic. I hesitate to say it was my favorite day, but I’m not sure why I feel that way. It was my favorite day.
As with day 2, I’m not sure that I have everything in perfect order, but I’m pretty sure this was our first stop:
Eyjafjallajökull is the volcano that erupted in 2010 and caused air travel problems to/from Europe. We could see it from Hótel Lækur the night before – and it was super foggy since it was early morning – but we stopped, anyway, and took pictures.
Shortly after that stop, we stumbled upon Skógafoss.
We decided to climb the stairs to see what we’d see.
Jon was willing to go all the way.
I just wasn’t. Too high.
This is where we temporarily lost our car keys and panicked.
At some point, we stopped in a small town called Vík. It’s the southernmost village in Iceland with a population of just over 200 people. I didn’t know anything about it until we arrived there.
This is what I learned (via wikipedia): “Vík lies directly beneath the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which itself is on top of the Katla volcano. Katla has not erupted since 1918, and this longer than typical repose period has led to speculation that an eruption may occur soon. An eruption of Katla could melt enough ice to trigger an enormous flash flood, potentially large enough to obliterate the entire town. The town’s church, located high on a hill, is believed to be the only building that would survive such a flood. Thus, the people of Vík practice periodic drills and are trained to rush to the church at the first sign of an eruption.”
While we were in Vík, we stopped at a grocery store and picked up some stuff for lunch.
Lunch happened a little while later at a beautiful spot we found as we drove. We were pretty much alone on the road by this point (as we were for most of the drive after day 1), so we just pulled over, rolled the windows down and ate.
I gave up on my hair at some point. It was just too windy to care.
We discovered throughout the day that the landscape (and weather) changed dramatically over and over.
The lava fields were astonishing. I was completely fascinated.
At some point, we found this:
THEN, we found Jökulsárlón.
I have never experienced anything like it. Ever.
It’s all – the whole day – really just indescribable.
We spent 8 hours traveling that day with all of the stops we made and the time we spent walking and gawking at stuff.
Our stop for the night:
Dinner was fantastic!
I spent the evening reading and Jon spent it watching movies on his iPad. I had done very little (almost zero) reading about Iceland prior to the trip and hadn’t even really read anything about the stuff we’d be seeing since Icelandic Farm Holidays arranged our accommodations and gave us the driving route (for instance, I had no idea we had a 4 hour drive ahead of us that morning until the owner of Hótel Lækur asked where we were headed and told me about the distance). I was super interested to learn more at this point, though – especially about life, in general, and about social issues like homelessness, poverty, access to education, medical care and mental health services, etc. The most fascinating thing I learned? Their prisons? Only 1 (of 6) has a capacity over 25.
Anyway. I had some trouble sleeping that night but had a great time reading. Jon was generally able to sleep pretty well.
Up next: my second favorite day of the trip.