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Monthly Archives: September 2008

Jökulsárlón – Have I mentioned that Icebergs are pretty??

Jökulsárlón is the best known and the largest of a number of glacial lakes in Iceland. It is situated at the south end of the glacier Vatnajökull between Skaftafell National Park and Höfn. Appearing first only in 1934-1935, the lake grew from 7.9 km² in 1975 to at least 18 km² today because of heavy melting of the Icelandic glaciers. Approaching a depth of 200 m, Jökulsárlón is now probably the second deepest lake in Iceland.

Jökulsárlón is separated from the sea by only a short distance, and the combined action of the glacier, the river that empties from the lake, and the ocean may eventually transform it into an inlet of the sea. There are plans to prevent this from happening, since the only road in the area passes over the narrow isthmus.

After loving the icebergs, then it was back to the road again

Myvatn in a nutshell….

So after heading past Myvatn… we decided that of course we would attempt the Western Fjords… but Myvatn is full of a lot of things to see…from awesome convection rainbows, mud volcanoes, real volcanoes, lava fields, dormant volcanoes with lakes in them….you get the idea… Iceland is a nature lover’s paradise, but definitely if you are into Volcanoes … Iceland is really one of the must go places in the world….

So day three of the Most Extreme Elimination Challenge continues…..

Two days ago, our intrepid travellers braved the dangers and stupidity of crossing a slightly dried out river bed downstream from a glacier. I of course, fell into a nice little sinkhole but bravely jumped out and ensured no catastrophe, while Lev decided that Ice Caverns were his things, thinking he was a mountain barashka, hopping from boulder to boulder, realized that you couldn’t hop, if a boulder disappeared into the river. We passed test 1 of Iceland, which would be Glacier diving and falling!

Yesterday, we attempted the Super 4X4 relay, where an adventurer decided to go hard core off road driving, but in an attempt for Bonus points for the Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, we decided that off roading was too tame for us, we would create our OWN road through foot high rocks, crevasses and soft mud with a Santa Fe Hyundai (Korean made) 4×4. This in the end left us with mild heart burn, took 4.5 yrs off our lives, when we realized that in doing this, we could destroy the axles and be stranded 50km at the end of nowhere with only some sheep and horses to keep us company. Oh yeah and how I could forget the gales… oh the lovely gales!!! In the end, we passed test 2 of Iceland, which would be exhibiting superior driving skills and not destroying the undercarriage of a vehicle.

Well today, since everything comes in 3’s, it was time for the Toyota Rock/Wind Challenge, where our intrepid explorers will attempt to sightsee across Myvatn and environs with Hydrogen Sulphide gas in their faces from mud volcanoes, climb volcanoes with 85 km/h winds whipping pebbles and stones at their skin and faces, walk across lava plains and sulphuric pits with -5C wind chills caused by the 85-100 km/h winds.

So today’s path will lead our explorers through the following terrain and areas of Iceland from Myvatn to Blondous. Take a look from the Center of the Map to see where  Myvatn is… and then we are heading to the end of the Map.

The Myvatn area looks like the following

Things to see and do in Myvatn would be on our list include:

  • Höfði, where one-of-a-kind lava clusters rise out of the lake
  • Dimmuborgir, where the interaction between the magnificent lava formations plays with the imagination. Dimmuborgir sports a lava formation that can be walked into and looks like a church dome
  • Grjótagjá chasm is yet another wonder; it has an underground flow of hot water and can be explored on foot.
  • Hverir are natural clay springs with boiling clay. They are quite a remarkable sight.
  • The volcanic area Leirhnjúkur, which last erupted in 1984, is a breathtaking area where you can explore the lava fields and see how new life emerges in the fresh lava. This route has been called the “diamond route”. Trips to Herðubreiðarlindir and Askja with a stop in the great Drekagil canyon are also available. The astronauts involved in the lunar landings were trained in Drekagil before their historic voyages to the moon. These trips are available either in organised group trips in super jeeps or in a sightseeing flight (only available during the summer time). 
  • Whale watching is offered from Húsavík and has become extremely popular. Since the whale watching started, 12 whale species have been spotted in Skjálfandaflói bay. There are various reasons for the good whale watching conditions in the bay, one of which is that a deep current runs through the bay, which is 755 feet deep at the most, relatively close to shore.
  • Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall, and Jökulsárgljúfur national park within which you will find Ásbyrgi and Hljóðaklettar
  • Herðubreið mountain, which is considered the queen of all Icelandic mountains and Askja mountain, which has Askja lake and Víti crater.

So this was the path today, yesterday we went to Dettifoss, but the high winds made viewing it quite tough, Lev and I walked down the path and within two minutes our pants were soaked from the high winds carrying the mist from the waterfalls. Dettifoss is quite the waterfall, but having seen so may waterfalls here in Iceland, it kinda just looked like another of all the others. It is quite the huge waterfall though.. it is the most powerful in terms of Volume in Europe. The roar is quite loud!!! Due to its size and the canyon it comes down from, you can walk right down to the bottom like most of the other waterfalls.

So really our day started with two things, the Hverfjall Volcano Crater

If you look closely in this picture at the center of the road, you can see a white dot .. that is our trusty 4X4… but this was the first part of the challenge, since the winds and pebbles taken by the wind served to hinder us… not just hinder us, but smack us around ..literally… Lev has a video of his hat and everything being taken off by the winds.

and back to the mud/clay volcanoes at Hverir…. but anyway .. time to head out back on the road <to be continued>

Gale force winds greet us this morning….

Well it is about 8.21am now, and we are greeted by some gale force winds, so the travel plan for today is to head from Thorshofn to Fontur, then to Mvatyn then Akureyri.

The point on the map at Hraunhafnartangi is the Northern most point over here and is into the Arctic Circle…. so we’re kinda excited at that…. the official description is the following:

Langanes is a large and long peninsula to the east of the Thistilfiord Bay. The undulating landscape, 200-400 m high, gradually narrows to a sharp point called Fontur. The highest mountain, Mt. Gunnolfsvikurfjall, dominates the landscape on the Gunnolf’s Cove. On top of Mt Heidarfjall the NATO forces built a radar station, and operated it between 1954 and 1968. Its ruins commemorate Iceland’s part in the history of the Cold War period.  Another radar facility was built there and started operation in 1989.  The coastline was dotted with fishing outfits in the past and the biggest concentration was Skalar, where a hamlet of 117 people developed. During the fishing season, some 60-70 open fishing boat were operated from there. The harbour there also became important for the rapidly growing trade, but because of the modernization of the fishing industry and difficult communications, all farms and fishing outfits were abandoned.Two ocean currents, the Gulf Stream, and a mixture of a small branch of the Gulf Stream and the East Greenland Stream (Irminger Stream) meet off the east coast and create excellent conditions for all kinds of fish species and consequently very good fishing grounds. No one lives on Langanes any more. A 4wd track lies all the way to the utmost point of the peninsula. The weather conditions usually are windy and humid, but there are always fine days in-between.


So the morning is clearing up nicely after all these gale force winds really…and onwards North we go….

On the road to nowhere, you better know how you came there….

This should be watchwords for everyone… regardless of circumstances, but today on day 6 of the Icelandic Express passing through. Getting out of the house this morning was something else, especially since blogging for two hours since 6.15am.

So on the way to Fontur, the road is quite rough but we thought hey this car is a 4X4 and it should make this road with no issues… well we did make the road with no issues aside from a blown fuse for the cooling fan which caused the engine to overheat but we saw it and flipped a fuse and we were good to go. You might ask where Fontur is …

It was windy as hell yesterday and going to the end of nowhere in Iceland, since Fontur is the most northeastern point of Iceland, off the Ring road and truly off the beaten path, it is kinda scary in someways. If you shut down or anything happens to you out there, you are pretty much SOL until someone comes by, which could be in an hour or 5 days. However is it beautiful out there and there is something enchanting about there being nothing between you and the North Pole except the Greenland Sea.

The wind was that strong that I could try to fall over and the wind would keep me upright!

Hanging over the cliffs at Fontur when there is nothing separating you from the wildness of the Ocean and the North Pole, it is truly an exhilararing experience. The waters were so rough….

This is the direction were heading into…. to the END of Iceland!!

Just so one has some context of where in Iceland we were… I love the big wheel Icon of the 4X4

The cliffs and the water combined for a truly surreal experience out there….However leaving all of this and heading down a road that doesnt exist on your GPS… well it did exist on the GPS, but it didnt exist in reality… maybe not such a good idea…..so of course we decided to take the road less travelled… BY ANYONE…. and then for the next hour and half, proceeded to pray to someone that our car would not break an axle, get a flat, overheat or generally shut down at the edge of nowhere!
The rocks on the road were “Yay high” and after bashing the crappiness of the SUV in terms of our A/C shutting down earlier in the trip, we were petting good old 4X4 and praising her for getting our asses out of a tight bind. I can’t really convey how tense that 90 mins was to us, since it wasn’t the fear of the car breaking down, but rather the consequences of breaking on the End of nowhere…..our contingency plans included

  • Breaking into the lighthouse for shelter if we stalled… although it was now 10 km away
  • Breaking into a farmland stable which was about 4km away
  • Jogging in a 40mile headwind to the only campers we saw on the way… about 30km away
  • Waiting in the SUV till help arrived

Thankfully none of those scenarios played out….. but everytime we hit a rock or spring, or the axle crashed into a rock, there was palpable wincing and pain in the car. I grimaced to the point, I had to get out of the car to help guide Lev over rocks, but also not to hear the car creak and groan!!!
Lesson for this trip : Go back the same damn way you came! Even though Trinidadians invented everything, we have our limits at inventing roads from nothing!!
So after that experience, we were just glad to get back to the main dirt road … at which point we happened to see some Sheep Shearing…

Wow.. the days are passing so quickly here…..day 5 ends in a pleasant surprise…near the Arctic Circle

Sept 16th 10.20 pm IST: One of the great things about travelling is that you are always … and I mean always surprised by something during the trip. Trinidad used to be a place, a long time ago… long long time ago, where people wouldn’t lock their doors, they weren’t behind huge metal fences, and didn’t have to worry about someone trying to kidnap them if they had visible money. Well tonight, we ended up in a nice little town of Thorshofn, (North East, Iceland). It is a small fishing village that also serves the surrounding rural farming area. It is probably the best place in Iceland to experience what it is like to live in an isolated village almost 60 miles, 100 km from the next village. Around 400 people live in the village itself.

Well when we got in after a long long day of driving up the east coast and through North East Iceland, we ended up in Hotel Jorvik. Completely randomly, just like yesterday’s hotel/homestay…so we call the number listed and we get this guy who tells us to call another number. BTW we are in front of Hotel Jorvik when we call, after walking inside and looking around for anyone… yes the front door was unlocked! No one inside… we call the second number and nice old lady answers, she gives us a rate of 6900ISK for the night and that was that.

Oh yeah! One thing… she said she was outside and couldn’t come home, if we could make ourselves at home, and she would be back in the morning to collect payment. To describe Hotel Jorvik… it is a lovely house with very tidy, comfortable rooms downstairs and upstairs. It is not a hotel but rather the woman’s house with guestrooms. Her fridge had tons of food, wireless internet and comfy couches to do my thing! Her door was never locked, and there were no locks on any of the doors in the house…..this woman basically let her walk in, stay, and trusted us to pay her – sight unknown!!

(Update: 8am on Wednesday – Day 6 – She came by last night for 10 minutes to collect cash, and then left….we were again all alone in this house with all her things….it blows my mind! Oh yeah, did I mention I actually felll asleep with our room door open and the front door to this house unlocked and my laptop behind upstairs; it was on all night so I could upload as many pictures as I could on the 8kbps internet!). I don’t think I have ever done that in a strange place before…. no matter how remote.

And the food in the town, there is one bar, that serves as the local watering hole here….Liverpool was playing Marselles. Easily the best meal we have had in Iceland. One of the things when you travel the road, is that you become accustomed to the conditions, so that we eat candy and sandwiches while on the road, but you miss the creature comforts of home and “familiar” food, like Pho, Curry, Cheap Chinese, Sushi, Arabic food, etc …. but today we had some of the freshest halibut, trout and shrimp you could imagine; washed down by some good Icelandic beer.

Side note: When you go a bar, and order 4 pints, Fish & Chips, Fried Shrimp in Sweet and Sour Rice dish, Grilled Halibut with Potatoes, and Local Clam chowder, you expect a hefty bill. But in Iceland, a bill of 9300ISK, is a reasonable one. When considering the seafood in Hofn, cost us around the same price, and I need to eat 3 more meals after that dinner to feel full, Thorsofn feels like a god damn bargain. Again, I’ll reiterate, anyone coming to Iceland, make sure most of your money is on a credit card (Visa or Mastercard..since AMEX won’t get you far in the country)

Sept 16th 5.20 pm IST: Well it has been a long long day of driving from Hofn to Thorshofn.

Map of Day 5 routeSo going from Hofn, there aren’t many huge landmarks to see but the driving is spectacular and there are many quaint old towns to see. Now in a country of 300,000 people, where 2/3 of them live in the capital, you expect some tiny towns but small villages in Trinidad would metropolises over…. a town can be a group of 4 houses!!!

So the morning part of the journey consisted of the following path through the Eastfjords…

Eastfjords travel path
Eastfjords travel path

Tons of great driving really with lovely vistas…. ho hum! Give more Iceland.. all these boring vistas and scenic shots… where is your skyscrapers and your crappy “modern” architecture, and traffic jams…gimme more of that Iceland!!! Damn…I guess we’ll have to with all this clean, cold air with waterfalls, mountains and fjords. Ho Hum!!

So we are in this small town of Djupivogur. Quite the picturesque little town, but then again… what around Iceland so far hasn’t been? We stopped by the oldest house in the town called Langavur. Not really much here…. but we did meet Jennifer in the supermarket here…. a Portuguese girl who speaks Icelandic. Here is the speil on this little town.

This village at the head of the bay Berufiord developed around an important trading post in the past. In 1589 the German Hansa merchants were granted a trading license there by the Danish king. Later on the Danish introduced the trade monopoly and took over themselves. The oldest houses (1788-1818) date back to the Danish period. Three of them, among them Langabud (1790), have been restored. Langabud was transformed into a nice restaurant and museums. Fishing, fish processing and commerce are the main trades. The scenic beauty of the surroundings is renowned and visitors are treated well in every respect. The hotel Framtid (Hotel Future) has a good restaurant and a sauna. A Youth Hostel is at the nearby farm, Berunes. Boat trips to the island Papey, deep sea angling and a bike rental are among the recreational opportunities.
The monument in the middle of the small town was unveiled on June 20th, 1999 in memory of drowned seamen and fishermen. The sculptor was Johanna Thordardottir.Side Note: What is surprising here is how well the Icelanders speak English and everyone speaks English well. I’ll have to find out if it an official language, I should know this, but I don’t. So of course, our American friends from last night run into us at the hostel… it’s funny but I don’t think I have met more Anti-American Americans that this couple. She was remarking that if Obama didn’t win, she and her fiancee were moving to Norway. Hmmmm there is a thought, let s more from a country with low taxes and no social services, to a country with ridiculously high taxes but all the social net in the world – sounds like someone is voting for Canada.

Driving down the Eastfjords is rather flat for a lot of stretches and you get a lot of coast line that is more like this
But then you happen on magnificent gorges with waterfalls like this
One gets the picture ….. so more waterfalls, fjords, and mountains… but note that there were no glaciers in this part of Iceland since we passed the mighty Vatnajokull, a while back. MAny scenes were barren or lovely coastline with sea stacks or rocks from the mountains above.
After driving lower on the coast, we start a lovely and scary ascent into the mountains buffeted by some high gale force winds…but the vistas were pretty spectacular….. oh ho hum Iceland…..boring!!!
Also on this trip I learnt that Lev has an unnatural obsessions with Baraskaa (Russian for Sheep)…. as shown by the following pics…..
So other little descriptions of towns passed like Faskrudfjordur
The village Budir is situated at the end of the bay Faskrudsfjordur. The Co-operative Society there operates a shop, a fishing outfit and a fish processing factory. Late in the 19th and early in the 20th centuries French fishing vessels were serviced there and the French built a hospital and secured sacred ground for the burial of the fishermen, who died on the long fishing expeditions to the Icelandic fishing grounds. Altogether 49 French and Belgians lie buried there. The hospital building was moved to the head of the bay and its decayed remains are still standing. All around the village are beautiful and interesting natural phenomena to be seen in the rugged, mountainous landscape.
After this we headed to VOPNAFJORDUR.
The name Vopnafjordur applies to a bay in the northeast and a village on it, which develloped around an ancient trading post. The main bases of living are fishing, fish processing and commerce. The author Gunnar Gunnarsson staged many of the events of his works in the areas to the west of the village and on his centenary in 1989 his memorial was unveiled in Vopnafjordur.

thoughts by the end of Day 4….

full travelogue to follow but random thoughts so far

  • The same way Americans have Mexicans in the US to do certain things for them, I have decided that I must find each countries version of Mexicans, hence:
    • The Polish are the Mexicans of Iceland
    • The Guyanese are the Mexicans of Trinidad
    • The Indians are the Mexicans of Germany
    • The Algerians are the Mexicans of France
    • And Mexicans are the Mexicans of the US ….. more Mexicanisms to follow
    • Oh yeah, Quebecers are the Mexican-ts of Canada
    • <updated Sept 2010> Nicaraguans are the Mexicans of Panama
    • Colombians are the Thai hookers of Central America and the Caribbean (I couldn’t even lump them into the Mexican category)
    • Moroccans and Algerians are the Mexicans of Spain
    • Moroccans don’t have Mexicans … they do have Berbers but that doesn’t count.
  • Stupidest question of this year:
    • Lev and I have just come off a glacier..where I almost died in a sinkhole. We are going into our 4X4 when a bunch of girls in a car pull up next to us and the following conversation takes place. Note that you have to drive 7 km offroad on a dirt road to get to this place.
      • Girls: Hi there.. how are you guys
      • Lev: We’re good <insert random useless chatter> / Rishi is trying not to die from sinkholes
      • Girls: Well guys, do you guys know if there is a store up there ???<points up to the fucking glacier… like the middle of the glacier>
      • Lev: Yeah there is a Wal-Mart up there
      • Rishi: Yeah next to the fricking Target… like what you seriously expect up here, dumbass???
  • Icelanders really have only fish and lamb and nothing else worth eating. Pretty much anything else is shit! Don’t think this is true….??? Try eating any fast food here… if you have eaten it somewhere else!! Come to Iceland for the wonder and beauty… do not come for food!! Bring your own
  • I have seen so many waterfalls, I am now so waterfalled out..its disgusting!! All waterfalls here are amazing, of course when you have a massive set of glaciers feeding all these glacier… after a while, you just expect a great waterfall to be around the corner. In South Iceland… gorgeous waterfalls are always around the corner?
    Being in Iceland is like being in reverse Spanish Harlem, you expect everything to be amazing here.. the same way you expect to shit in Spanish Harlem.
  • You want to confuse an Icelander… ask for a bag of Ice!!!
    Seriously if you want to completely confuse them, ask for a bag of ice. They will ask you if you want ice cream, ice tea, ice smoothie, soft serve ice cream, but they cannot comprehend why you can want a bag of ice. Ironic…. you can’t find a bag of Ice in Ice-fricking-land!!
  • Anyway those are my random thoughts for today… will blog and upload later.

Vik to Seljalandsfoss to Hohn…. ok we didn’t get to Hohn….we’re now in Kirkjubaejarklaustur

So after the adventure of last night with the lighting and scaling of the falls… we were both pretty hyped up for today going down South Iceland. My first priority was really get back to Seljalandsfoss to take some photos by day, since we were so blown away at night. Now one of the great thing about travelling is that you sometimes meet some very extraordinary people who all have their own personal missions and philosophies about travelling. In the hostel, this morning while I was uploading last night’s pictures, there was this bunch of elderly people; and by elderly I would say their ranges were from 60-72. They were cycling across Iceland!!!

What?!? You might ask, but yes… these were very sprightly people who were enjoying their retirements by cycling over Iceland. I could only listen in amazement, as they told us their stories. The funny thing is the disgust I felt at myself after hearing stories of cycling across Canada and all over, and here I was finding it so hard to just get out of bed sometimes….. meh! Anyway, after the knowledge download and swapping of information, we were off to Seljalandsfoss.

South Iceland is known for the beaches and the rock formations throughout as well as for tons of waterfalls.

Side note:
Iceland is definitely one of the most expensive places I have been. I keep repeating it, but it truly doesn’t sink in here, until you see that it costs about 120$ to fill up your gas tank. Yep! So in addition to our rental.. which was a steal at 1100$ CDN, the gas for the trip would be about the same as the rental… unreal… so just having the car and transport would be about 2200$ CDN for the entire trip. So readers and travellers, just be prepared for some serious sticker shock here. That being said, after 3 days of Iceland, with stunning vistas, idyllic scenes, bizarre rock formations, translucent Ice Caverns and clean pure glacial water in my bottles, it is worth every penny so far. While I haven’t “knocked” off any personal goals on this trip so far, in terms of my Hillman’s wonders… Iceland is one hell of a gorgeous country! And so plesantly free of the tourist humdrum that infects the other parts of the world.

The town of Vik is nicely situated between mountains, sea cliffs and gorgeous black sand beaches. The main sight to see in Vik is the Reynisdrangar, which are these huge spiky basalt sea stacks, created by the erosion of soft base rock. The photography is absolutely lovely in this part of South Iceland.

So this morning we hit up Reynisdrangar.

Reynisdrangar are basalt sea stacks situated under the mountain Reynisfjall near the village Vík í Mýrdal, southern Iceland.


So after the peninsula, we ended up in Skógafoss. Skógafoss is one of the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls of the country with a width of 25 meters and a drop of 60 meters. Due to the amount of spray the waterfall consistently produces, a single or double rainbow was visible, even on this cloudy day. According to legend, the first Viking settler in the area, Þrasi Þórólfsson, buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall. A local boy found the chest years later, but was only able to grasp the ring on the side of the chest before it disappeared again.


So after Skogafoss… we finally decided to head back to Sejalandsfoss

And of course the flood plain lower down from the valley

So after the falls… we decided that we needed to see a glacier. Now where was the nearest glacier … something we saw on the way to the falls.. so we decided to make a 6 km drive inside to the nearest glacier. Mýrdalsjökull was the nearest one for us……now Lev is below trying to eat a piece of old ice….

Now in the following picture… one might see an ice cavern in the middle of the picture….

Well Lev decided that he would bypass the organized tour of people and drag me along across a flood plain and river to see the Ice Cavern. Things that Trinidadians don’t know about….

  • Trinidadians have no experience with f-ing glaciers
  • Trinidadians don’t really know what a glacier is, unless it is some kind of Vodka
  • Trinidadians don’t truly know about Sinkholes in Glacier Flood plains
  • This Trinidadian is about 251 lbs right now and this weight does not mix well with unstable sinkholes

I didn’t know that walking across flood plains with Lev, with rain falling, was a bad idea. Of course Lev, skips over cracks and crevasses…. while I am simply walking and all of a sudden, my left leg sinks knee deep into the ground and the rest of me starts sinking!! Oh yeah!!

Guess what happened??? All that lack of knowledge about flood plains and don’t be an idiot and walk across them, well I foolishly didn’t pay attention to the tour guides avoiding walking on the plain! Obviously, I’m blogging today and I wasn’t sucked into a sinkhole and crevasse, but it was truly scary stuff…. since I had no sure footing and I did sink very quickly.

After that sinking, I was careful to the point, that I just stopped hiking and went back to the car.. or tried to!! Being scared like that.. makes you walk really slowly! Meanwhile, this was Lev’s response to my near death experience!

So after the hiking through the cliffs at Fjallaskalar, it was absolutely gorgeous with these stunning bluffs and cliffs. We decided that we wouldn’t head to Hohn since it was late in the day and we ended up here in Kirkjubaejarklaustur.

So we go to local N1 and order a $12 burger that was of course horrific and decide to go through the Lonely Planet book and find this hotel .. we ended up here at Hotel Laki

The hotel didn’t really cost a lot by Icelandic standards… 9500ISK, but we were pleasantly surprised at the standard of the accomodations. Typically, I expect a European room to look small and not a North American style bathroom… this hotel was pretty nice….we had a decent meal.. Lev has the Arctic Char and I had some Lamb. One food tip in Iceland.. always have the fish and the lamb!! My lamb was spectacular… and I normally hate lamb but this lamb was just spectacular.

So it’s about 11pm and we’re pretty much now just chilling … so off to the hot tub!

Southwest Iceland, crazy changing weather and midnight Sejalandsfoss climbing….man I’m beat!!

It is 7am here right now on Sunday morning, and the sky is finally clear and I can see sunshine to start but after a second day of hardcore driving, we deserve a longer rest. So continuing from our first day adventures, Lev and I got up at noon yesterday. He was a bit worse for wear but miraculously remembered where we had parked the car last by Oudua’s house, thankfully I got some extra sleep but once again got up with no hangover to speak of really! The Russians were talking about us though, with our late arrival back at the house at 5.30am from partying in Reykjavik, some gibberish about the tall white guy and the “black” guy he was with!!! Only in Iceland, can that happen I’m assuming, since I am not florescent white and don’t glow in the dark. So after they knock on our door at noon and walk in to tell us we have to leave……this is ain’t no fricking Sheraton for sure…. we got on our way and decided to drive South through the South Western coast, make our way to the Blue Lagoon and then finally head to Vik.

The drive through the Rekjanes Peninsula is quite scenic, I wouldn’t describe it as breathtaking but it does offer quaint old churches and farmhouses. The geology and panoramas though as something to behold….more on the Geology in a bit. The coastline itself

The rugged coastline did provide tons of great pictures and the water in combination with the clean air really does refresh you. There really isn’t that much that i can write, since the pictures themselves tell more about the scene


As soon as you arrive in Iceland, you can see that it is geologically unusual. Over much of the drive through the the Reykjanes peninsula from Reykjavik, you are presented with a scene as bleak as you can imagine. A dark, hummocky plain, Reykjanes peninsula was created by the same violence that both built Iceland and pulls it apart today.

Iceland sits astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, part of the world-circling undersea mountain system that is the locus of new crust formation. Iceland formed by the coincidence of the spreading boundary of the North American and European plates and a hotspot or mantle plume. As the plates moved apart, excessive eruptions of lava constructed volcanoes and filled rift valleys. Subsequent movement rifted these later lava fields, causing long, linear valleys bounded by parallel faults. These movements continue today, accompanied by earthquakes, reactivation of old volcanoes, and creation of new ones.

Some of the most active areas of new crust formation are in the southwestern parts of Iceland, accessible to all travellers. The trip from Keflavik airport to Reykjavik takes you along the edge of the North American plate where it meets the European plate. A drive to nearby Thingvellir valley, reveals an older part of the rift system, where you can see both sides of the plate boundary in one sweeping panorama. So of course a tourist point is the actual fault line where the two plates meet up as the pictures show.

Much of the next couple hours of driving was a combination of crazy rock formations or gorgeous coastline, although we definitely felt at times like we were on the death march to Mordor. The trip though the Peninsula has that type of Lord of the Rings feel to it. So after a long couple of hours, we finally looped back to Keflavik and to the World Famous Blue Lagoon.

Thoughts on the Blue Lagoon….
Personally, I was not blown away or anything. It is nice, it is blue.. some parts more azure blue than others but it is really is just a very very fancy spa with some warm blue water in it. Of course, it is a requisite tourist trap and it was quite welcome after a long long day of driving through the Reykjanes Peninsula.

Anyway after leaving the Blue Lagoon, we decided to make the 3 hour drive to Vik to get our touring started early…. nothing much since it got dark at this time…. or so we thought, since it was really was just driving through the crazy changing weather in Iceland, and it is crazy changing for sure… I wont try to explain but rather insert the following journal entry

The “Icelandic Low” is a key to bringing a greater or lesser amount of warm air into the Arctic depending on the intensity of the system, and is part of a larger weather pattern called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).

NAO is the name for changes in the difference of air pressure between the semi- permanent low-pressure system centered near Iceland (the Icelandic Low) and a semi-permanent high-pressure system centered near the Azores Islands (better known as the Bermuda-Azores High).

On average, both of these systems are present all year; however, both are strongest in winter. When both the high and the low intensify and fluctuate in pressure relative to one another, they change the circulation of cold and warm air in the region.

When the Icelandic Low is strong, it forces cold Arctic air southward to the area west of Iceland and Greenland, setting the stage for increasing sea ice cover in Baffin Bay, the Labrador Sea, Hudson Bay and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. At the same time, to the east, warm air that is swept northward reduces ice extent.

This warmer air contributes to the reduced ice extents east and north of Greenland, and the reduced extent of ice in the entire Arctic overall. “When the Icelandic Low is weak, it will still bring warm air northward to the east of Iceland, but not as much as when the Icelandic Low is strong,”

The highlight of the day really came when I spotted this faint illuminated source in the darkness off the side of the highway….

Ok ok.. it was not the Sheep really….but rather this…

This was Sejalandsfoss at night.. so through the driving rain we find this tallest waterfall in Iceland… completely deserted, spooky as hell, and fricking magnificent and we had it all to ourselves. Not a soul in sight at 11pm… driving rain, uterr darkness around and what do we decide to do….

Yeah that’s right… we hiked behind the falls through the rain and sleet…. but it was absolutely exhilarating… the power and roar of the waterfalls…. and of course with Lev’s trusty flashlight… it was perfect…. we spent a good 35 mnutes being soaked to the bone in near freezing temperatures but I would do it again for sure!!!

This last shot took about 4 minutes to compose, since it was raining so hard and was sooo windy!! After that we were buzzing for the last hour’s drive to Vik….. and basically got to the hostel… unpacked, uploaded and I was out at 2am…..end of day 2…..