sâmbătă, 19 noiembrie 2016

The longest day yet

So far, the road had taken us along the south coast of Iceland. The experience was nothing less than memorable. At the end of day 3 we camped in Hofn, a small and elegant fishing town on the south-east coast and probably the last relatively big settlement on the road heading north. It was a good opportunity to tank up and buy some supplies for the long road ahead.

 One thing to bare in mind, although we probably mentioned this before, is that if you plan for the ring road in Iceland, is best to know exactly when and where to tank up because fuel stations are not so frequent in this country, especially on the east coast.

 We were warned by the people from the car rental office to be careful if driving on the east coast. The roads aren't as friendly as on the south coast, they can be "asphalt free" and treacherous. Were they right!! We never thought that the driving experience itself would be so unbelievably diverse. It was like we wanted to quickly go through all the dangerous parts but at the same time stop on the side of the road and take in the sights. Sometimes we wondered how the road exists with such steep slopes tumbling down into the sea.


 We drove quite for some time on the main ring road, heading north towards Borgafjordur Eystri. The east coast is generally a less attractive place for tourists because there is only a narrow passage north-south, with the ocean on one side and steep mountains on the other. There are great hiking opportunities but housing is scarce for those who aren't in for long treks.    

 Borgarfjordur Eystri was our back-up plan for seeing puffins. Since we didn't have the chance to see these beautiful birds in the south, we were hoping to change our luck here. And we did! It was very easy to spot them because they have a distinctive posture when flying and especially when they are on the ground.

 The Icelandic summer is something to be very happy about but also a reason for concern. You rarely pay attention to how fast time is passing and you find yourself caught off-guard and behind schedule. It happened to us every day. This time it was worse because we've had overcast weather all day but in the evening the sky cleared and things became all of a sudden more interesting. Why wouldn't it, when we were approaching active volcanoes and the most powerful waterfall in Europe!! It was a never-ending sunset if one might say that.

Near Detifoss



 It was an enhanced experience for us, witnessing the wonders of our earth under the midnight sun. By the time we reached Hverir, it was close to midnight and we could still see the sun over the horizon. Naturally saturated colors in the sky as on the ground. The hallucinating combination of senses, amplified by the weariness of our bodies after a long day,  made us feel like we were on another planet. 

 It was strange having to go to sleep when the sun was rising and not being able to distinguish between evening, night and morning. It is merely one of the many feelings that are challenged once in Iceland. 
Myvatn Lake. Bed time, 2.48 AM

duminică, 9 octombrie 2016

Black sands and moving ice- day 3

The third morning found us in Vik i Myrdal, the southernmost town in Iceland. A small settlement surrounded by mountains and the Atlantic.
This day was rather special because it was also the day one of us turned 27. It didn't really affect our plans because we didn't plan to make this a relaxing day, on the contrary.

The plan was to do the rest of the south coast and end the day in Hofn, a small town on the south-east coast. The weather was incredibly good. Our third day here and none of our worries regarding bad weather had come true. It was rather cold during the day, colder during the "night" but all in all, we were happy.

As previously said, there are remarkable differences from the coast inward. In Vik there was a beach with volcanic black sands and 2-3 kilometers inland, mountains and glaciers sprung out of nowhere. The road itself from Vik to Reynisfjara (a black sand beach with impressive basalt cliffs) meanders across mountains passes and down to plains with visible geological layers.
A panoramic view of Dyrholaey and the black sand beach of Reynisfjara

 Driving eastward on the Icelandic south coast is an experience everyone should try at least once. It is here where there is an active volcanic activity. Some of the volcanoes in the area have erupted in recent years, some of them are actually expected to erupt in the near future. Add ice and glaciers to the mixture and you have a perfect and extreme destination.

Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon
Vatnajokull glacier is the largest ice cap in Iceland and one of the largest in Europe. It covers large areas inland and spreads out to the Atlantic in the south. One such area is the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon, where parts of the glacier mouth break off as icebergs and are carried out to the ocean. This lagoon was truly incredible, almost other-worldly. There was this chill in the air and a daunting silence that came down the mountain. Glancing at the mouth of the glacier, we could almost feel the immense void that engulfed the horizon. It reminded us of those rough winter days on the mountain where the only sound you hear is the raging wind scattering the fresh snow. It was a sensation that I personally will try to come back to whenever I feel the need for serenity. 

Moss covering lava fields

A preview of what was to be expected on the east coast
It was a special day indeed because we had reason for a double celebration. We celebrated ourselves for being alive and we celebrated nature for keeping us alive.