Now well into our Iceland Ring Road trip, we are beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed with how much there is to see and do, and how little time 12 days is to do it all. Because we are attempting to fit in as much as possible, the pace is starting to wear on us. Today we wanted to get an earlier start (9am instead of 11am) to see if it would help, but Trevor was in no mood to get moving early, so Dad was not happy and the outcome led to a frustrating morning.
When we finally hit the road, our first stop was the picturesque fishing village of Seyodisfjordur, surrounded by whitecap peaks dripping with numerous waterfalls. While the town was cute and we enjoyed a nice brunch at Hotel Aldan, it was really the drive in and out that made the trek worthwhile. I feel like a broken record, but the scenery while driving is breathtaking. As a photographer it pains me not to stop every few minutes to grab a shot, but if I did, we would never get through our day (and Kelly and Trevor may drive off without me).
Our next stop, Dettifoss waterfall, came somewhat as a surprise. We knew we wanted to see Europe’s most powerful waterfall, but just hadn’t realized when it would pop up on our itinerary. But there was the sign, so we headed off down a less than desirable dirt road to see another falls. What makes Dettifoss so incredible is the ability to walk right up to the edge of this force of nature, and feel its power moving through your body. It seems strange there are no railings or barriers keeping people from the edge, but this is Iceland, not the U.S.!
As a photographer, let me say a few words about shooting falls. Mandatory equipment includes a tripod and neutral density filter if you plan on capturing the flow of water during mid-day, as in the image above. The filter cuts out light, which allows you to do a longer exposure, giving the soft effect of the water.
One challenge shooting the massive falls in Iceland has been managing the spray on the lens. I am constantly wiping off water with a soft cloth. The other is finding a unique perspective different from the many captured by tourists. Not that there is anything wrong with basic point-and-shoot pictures, but as a photographer, the desire is creating an image that resonates with the soul and the feeling in the moment. Here is another one of Dettifoss.
After we made our way back out to the main road it was close to 5 pm and we had not ate since breakfast. We drove for another half-hour until we reached Lake Myvatn, a haven for birds, geothermal hot springs, and volcanic craters. Almost as soon as we reached the lake, we saw a sign for Vogafjos, or the Cowshed Cafe, which served a mean vegan lunch – ironic given the name of the place. Like other similar joints we have visited, cows were everywhere staring at us while we ate.
Although our final destination of the day was still over an hour away, one of the main reasons for visiting this region is to soak in the Myvatin Nature Baths. This geothermal pool of aqua blue was at the top of Kelly’s list, so despite a cold rain, we all decided to take the plunge. If you have never been in an open-air geothermal pool, you should put it on your bucket list of life experiences!
Now well into evening, we made our final push of the day to Akureyri. On the way it’s impossible not to see Godafoss, or what Icelanders call the Waterfall of the Gods. It’s said that in the year 1000 some important dude had to decide the religious fate of the nation, so he meditated for 24 hours before declaring it Christian. On his way home to his farm from the meeting, he passed by Godafoss and sacrificed his pagan carving of the Norse gods, bestowing its present name.
Finally around 10 pm, we hooked up with the caretaker of our apartment for the evening and settled in for the night. Because the place had laundry facilities and we had a bag of ripe clothes, Kelly graciously stayed up late getting them done while Trevor and I crashed after a very long day.