There is so much to love about Reykjavik it’s difficult to have only stayed there two days this trip. Most of our time was spent either drinking in Prikið or drinking in Hemma og Valda. With dusk starting around 1am and dawn right on it’s heels at 3am we exhausted ourselves on these last few days of our trip making use of all the light we could. There are very few things better than midnight in Reykjavik in May.
South Iceland is unbelievable. The light, the hills, the colour… there is almost nothing that looks real in this area. The land feels mystical, living and breathing. Here it is easy to believe in Iceland’s Huldufólk (hidden people). Check out more about them in this landscape here: Huldufólk
Vik is one of the best things about Iceland. Small town tucked between icelandic foothills/mountains, basalt columns towering over black pebble beaches, rock formations jutting from the sea, lush green lava fields as far as the eye can see….. what’s not to love about Vik?!
We spent almost two days here enjoying the scenery: napping on lava, breakfasting on the beach, video chatting home above a crashing ocean, drinking in the best/only little pub in town and swimming in the oldest pool in Iceland. If you go to Iceland…. go to Vik.
Jökulsárlón is one of the most iconic places in Iceland. It’s name literally means ‘glacial river lagoon’ and it’s pretty incredible. Basically there is a river/lake that runs from the Vatnajökull glacier to the sea on the south side of Iceland by Vatnajökull National Park and giant chunks of glacier are just making their way out to the ocean. It’s difficult to see just how big some of these pieces are in these photos because there is often nothing to give it context, but some of them were the size of a house. The main highway goes right by this area so it’s super accessible to anyone traveling through the south. You can see that even though it was pouring rain while we were here, the colours of the glacier pieces and the water is insanely blue. My favourite part about this place though is where the ice feeds out into the ocean and gets beaten so violently by the sea. Growing up in a landlocked place, I never really understood the power of the sea but it only takes a minute or two of watching these icebergs getting pulverized by the tide to learn respect for it.
After driving for hours seeing significantly more reindeer than vehicles, we happened upon these racks of drying fish along the coast. It was almost eerie the way these thousands of fish in hung there swinging in the wind. You can’t hear it great on the video but they sounded a little like a very strange kind of wind chime.
We weren’t there more than 10 minutes when another car drove up. The couple inside got out and wouldn’t you know… they were from Brighton, Ontario (not far from Patrick’s hometown). What made this meeting memorable though wasn’t our common citizenship, or the fact that they were the first people we saw that day, it was the fact that the man was dressed ENTIRELY as Santa Claus.
We didn’t ask.
Halfway through our trip around Iceland, we ended up in a beauty of a little town: Djúpivogur. With a population of just over 350, it’s one of the larger towns in the east fjords and is famous for it’s birds. It was also very near Djúpivogur where we happened upon a rack of drying fish (thousands of them) and a man from Ontario dressed as Santa, but that’s another whole story.
The sea in east Iceland is incredible. It’s here that the Norwegian Sea collides with the North Atlantic, where the towering mountains of the fjords run down into the lava fields of the south. The water is cold, dark and frightening but with beaches full of colour and life. When the tide goes out it leaves behind it a sheet of mud that looks like glass, pitted in patterns of bird tracks and a perfect reflection of the sky.
Five years ago Jamie and I skipped over most of the east in favour of exploring the west fjords. This time around, Patrick and I decided we were going to check out the east fjords. Turns out that the weather had different plans but we still were able to spend some time skirting along the south east coast. It was amazing: mountains being cut off by the sea, tides that leave mud like mirrors behind them, colours that will blow your mind and birds… so many birds.
The steaming acidic mudpots of Námafjall in the Mývatn valley. The smell of sulphur here is so overwhelming that people have been known to faint from it.
In the Mývatn region stands the Krafla volcano and below in it’s valley is Námafjall, a geothermal area with boiling mudpots and hissing fumaroles. With dusk coming on the horizon, Patrick and I rolled into this valley to check it out for ourselves. The air was thick with sulphur and dense steam. The sounds, the colours, the smells all make this area seem completely surreal.