Yesterday’s rain had passed on but this morning was still drizzly which made it very difficult to take some good photos of the first two sites we came across. I was hoping for better weather, but you have to work with what you have. I am still amazed at the number of tourists visiting Iceland. There are many more than I remember from my previous visit.
We are doing relatively well with our travel budget. I have allowed $200 per day for food on this trip and so far we are coming in under that amount but it is a very expensive country for us with our Australian Dollars. Tonight, I had a nice lamb shank for dinner which came accompanied with roasted root vegetables. The price came out to be around $53 AUD. The other night, I ordered a glass of white wine with dinner. It turned out to be an Australian Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc. It cost $20 per glass for a wine that I can buy at home for $8 for bottle. The other day, a sandwich lunch and coffee for two cost us the equivalent of $47.
We started our day in drizzling rain this morning although it looked as though it might clear later in the day. Our first stop was at the Seljalandsfoss waterfall which is one of the best-known waterfalls in Iceland. It is 65 meters tall and it is quite beautiful. It falls from the top of the ancient sea cliff although the sea is now around 5 km away. A path leads behind the waterfall, but while the tourist advice is to bring a raincoat, the combination of today’s drizzle and spray made it impossible to think about getting any of those classic photographs from behind the waterfall and looking along the cliff face.
Our next stop was at the Skogafoss waterfall. (Foss in Icelandic actually means waterfall). Skógafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in the country with a width of 15 metres and a drop of 60 metres. Due to the amount of spray the waterfall consistently produces, a single or double rainbow is normally visible on sunny days, but definitely not today. According to legend, the first Viking settler in the area, Þrasi Þórólfsson, buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall. The legend continues that locals found the chest years later, but were only able to grasp the ring on the side of the chest before it disappeared again. The ring was allegedly given to the local church. The old church door ring is now in a local museum.There were so many people at the waterfall, it was impossible to think about getting any form of clear photo. I might be able to photoshop some out of my images, but that is for another day. On a previous trip here I remember seeing about twenty people. Today there were hundreds. As I’ve remarked before, the number of tourists in Iceland is astonishing.
It was the same at Reynisfjara, a black-sand beach on the South Coast of Iceland, just beside the small fishing village of Vík í Mýrdal. It has some enormous basalt rock stacks, roaring Atlantic waves and stunning panoramas, Reynisfjara is widely considered to be the most beautiful example of Iceland’s black sand beaches.
High on the cliffs, I could see puffins nesting and I was able to fire off a couple of quick shots. Perhaps I will be able to get closer to these birds in other places on this trip.
We stopped for a lunch of rye bread, cheese and salami at Vik. It was a little too breezy to be comfortable outside so we just ate in the car. Much less expensive than at the nearby cafe. Vik, again, has grown considerably. Last time I visited there, the only place to eat was at the service station r road house. Now, as well as the service station, there is a shopping centre, grocery store, restaurant and a hotel.
We continued around the ring road (Highway 1) for the rest of the day including a few deviations to interesting spots. One was to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, about 100 meters deep and about two kilometres long. The canyon has sheer walls, and is somewhat serpentine and narrow. Its was formed about 2 million years ago
With names like Fjaðrárgljúfur, navigating around here is quite challenge. It is often difficult to find places on the map and as we are driving, place names flash by so that we are at least a kilometre further down the road before we understood what the last road sign said. Our system, so far, is to use the first five letters in the name and then try to use them as a reference point. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
While Iceland is having its coolest and wettest summer in 100 years, there are still many patches of beautiful wildflowers. I see meadows of them beside the walks that I do as well as along the roadside. The area around Vik was no exception.
For the next two nights we are staying at Kirkjubaejarklauster, although I am not really sure how that name should be pronounced.