18.08.2016 - 19.08.2016 16 °C
We awoke to the sound of sheep, had uncontrollably hot showers and then tucked in to a hearty breakfast of leftover pasta, skyr, Special Flongor and peanut butter on toast. Just because we’re ninking doesn’t mean we’re missing out on the good things in life.
We were blessed with sunshine and we made the most of it, so we trekked four kilometres out to see the wreckage of an American navy plane that had been on the beach ever since it crashed there back in 1973 on account of a fuel shortage (everyone survived, don’t worry). The plane was set against a spectacular mountainous backdrop and made for a dramatic scene. As we walked back to the car, the sun continued and we even had to take our jackets off. Icelandic summer for the win!
Further along the ring road we turned off to Dyrholaey for some puffin spotting, and to admire Iceland’s version of the Twelve Apostles and London Bridge. We found a picturesque spot in Vik to eat our ham and cheese sandwiches, and were grateful to find toilet facilities there as well. We backtracked slightly to the black sand beach at Reynisfjara, where fierce waves came crashing in over the black pebbles. Didn’t expect that we would go to the beach in Iceland – and didn’t expect to need sunscreen either! The basalt columns on the shore made up the walls of a cave, and served as a climbing frame for the entire range of the human species. Small children encouraged by their parents, barefooted men showing off to their friends, and an awkwardly posing Japanese girl in a flowing white dress – they were all there. Waves are always mesmerising, but the stark contrast of white foam on black rocks against a blue sky was particularly captivating. And did I mention that the sun was still shining?
On we went around the ring road, past more waterfalls, more mountains, more green carpeted moon surface landscapes, until we got to Fjadrargljufur, which has been described as the most beautiful canyon in the world. Big call, but I’m not going to argue.
Our final scenic stop for the day was Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. This is the lake where glaciers go to melt. They break off in chunks with a cracking sound that echoes around the hills, and slide into the lagoon to display their colours and shapes before eventually becoming part of the crystal clear water. And oh the serenity! Except when a group of tourists arrives chattering loudly and then a family turns up and all the children throw the biggest rocks they can carry into the lake and the parents yell at them to stop. But if you wait, find a quiet alcove and can filter this out… oh the serenity. Nothing but the click of Belinda’s camera, the occasional glacial crack and the shouts of excitement when Pat and Simon spot a seal. Perfect. And then the light starts to fade and turns that special sort of golden… and then I remember that we still have a three and a half hour drive to get to our accommodation. Sigh.
The drive turned out to be a bit of a blur of turbo sounding bridges, tunnels through the mountains, admiring the moon shining over the ocean and listening to the terrible CD that had been left in the hire car by some forgetful person. Although with lyrics like “a rose couldn’t smell any redder”, we did think that maybe the CD was left behind on purpose… Eventually we made it to Stodvarfjordur and into our Airbnb for the night, and we quickly abandoned our pasta-based dinner plans, substituting them with peanut butter on toast instead. We were exhausted, our camera batteries had run out, but we were content.
We eased ourselves into Friday morning in no particular rush. Peanut butter toast reappeared as a breakfast option, and then we went for a wander around Stodvarfjordur to find out what the place actually looked like (since it had been dark when we arrived). The colourful houses, the fjord, the mountains… it looked pretty good.
We tootled along towards Seydisfjordur, stopping to admire the scenery several times along the way, as well as finding a suitably picturesque spot to consume peanut butter sandwiches and Maltesers. The sunshine continued as we drove over the mountain which meant we had amazing views over the fjord… and I am really starting to wish that I had brought my thesaurus with me because I’m running out of suitable adjectives pretty quickly. Curse you and your natural beauty, Iceland! The town of Seydisfjordur itself was picture-perfect, with brightly coloured houses and decent coffee and local beer and friendly locals and all the things you could want from a town. As we sat down to our beverages, the clouds rolled in and promptly obscured the view completely as well as taking the temperature down at least five degrees. Lucky we had arrived before the clouds! We strolled around the town and found a playground… and twenty minutes later we left the playground, laughing and feeling slightly nauseous from the whizzy dizzy thingamy. We drove back over the mountain and stopped off at Fardagafoss for some more waterfall appreciation (which we are now very good at, if I do say so myself). Simon got chatting to a local who turned out to know where Camperdown was, on account of having done a Rotary exchange to Warrnambool four years ago! Small world… We also came to the conclusion that the only people in Iceland who aren’t helpful and welcoming are the staff at the visitor information centres. Whose job it is to help and welcome visitors. Go figure.
Sufficiently natural beautied out for the day, we checked into our guesthouse and managed to score the last table at the best restaurant in Egilsstadir. We managed to look clean enough so that we didn’t stand out too much, and enjoyed good hearty food that completely made up for the high prevalence of peanut butter in our last three meals. The famous Icelandic lamb made an appearance, and so did skyr. Eating like locals – living the dream.