This morning we awoke to rain, which should not have been surprising given that Vik is the wettest coastal town in Iceland. Like other mornings, we had good intentions of heading out early, but by the time we drove into Vik for breakfast it was past 10am. Given there are less than 300 inhabitants in the entire town, we knew food options would be limited. So we hit the local grocery store and ate in the car.
With the weather being so lousy, we decided to bag going back to the glacier and make a quick stop at Dyrholaey. Perhaps because we have seen amazing rock formations on the Oregon Coast, or because we were still tired and not excited about the rain, the site was underwhelming and we stayed just a short time.
As we headed in the direction of Hofn, the weather didn’t improve and we began to feel grateful for the nice weather we have had thus far on our trip. While Trevor slept in the backseat, Kelly and I had our first opportunity to converse about our undecided future. While a part of me is excited about what is to come, it’s hard not touch the fear of the unknown.
Our first stop of the morning was another falls – Systrafoss. While we have seen plenty now, they are always stunning to admire and great opportunities to get out of the car. With grey skies and rain continuing, we drove on through diverse landscapes of lava rock covered in green moss and rock fields that felt like we were on the moon.
At times visibility was limited and we knew we were missing some amazing glacial scenes, but there was nothing we could do about. The weather Gods apparently wanted me to keep my eyes on the road. Other times as were we driving down the narrow two-lane Ring Road, the amazing expansive landscape reminded us that we are not in Kansas. I think if there is one thing thus far I can say about Iceland, it’s that it feels like nowhere I have ever been before.
Our first major stop was Skaftafell National Park, gateway to multiple glaciers and breathtaking peaks. Entering the park you know it’s a huge tourist destination by the number of cars, buses and scattered tents everywhere. Unfortunately, the grey skies and rain continued, so visibility was extremely limited. I spoke briefly with a park attendant who informed me it has rained every day of July thus far, which made me feel a bit better. We scouted out a couple of wet hikes, but knowing there would be little pay off in the end, we decided to leave the park for a future trip.
We continued through amazing landscapes, now more appreciative of the times when sun broke through the clouds and illuminated the green hillsides. Our next stop was based on seeing a bunch of cars in a lot next to the road. It’s hard to miss much as you drive around the ring, because other cars mark attractions like a trail of breadcrumbs. A short jaunt over a rocky ridge led to our first view of icy blue glaciers bobbing in a deep lagoon. It would have been a bit more enjoyable for me, except I have been having trouble with the distant focusing of my camera, irritating me to no end.
We continued on down the road a short distance to the main attraction of the day, Jokulsarlon, a similar glacial scene, just far more dramatic. The luminous blue icebergs that drift through the lagoon have been the backdrop to many movies, including: Batman Begins (2005) and the James Bond film Die Another Day (2002) where six Aston Martins were destroyed on the icy set.
As we took in the captivating landscape, a few seals bobbed their heads up and down, looking in our direction occasionally to see if we were looking. It was the first time I can remember that I have had an opportunity to shoot floating icebergs, and it was fun attempting to capture images that were not your basic tourist fare.
We rolled into Hofn later than we expected, but this is becoming the norm given how much there is to see during the day. Before checking into our room at Guesthouse Solbaer, we enjoyed an amazing meal at Kaffi Hornid and marveled at the sun shining down on the Atlantic in the distance.
We finished our day at the nicest place we have stayed thus far, where Trevor befriended another Icelandic boy, bouncing on a trampoline until late into the evening.