This was my first time in Iceland. And boy that was wouawesome.
My initial plan was to go on a guided tour group. But the dates didn't match my vacation schedule. The other available option was to rent a car and do a tour of the island, all by myself. This sounded a bit scary, especially since I didn't drive for quite a long time. But I was too excited about going in Iceland to skip the opportunity.
So after I completed my profile, the travel agency, Voyageurs du Monde, came up with a tailored journey, with some minor adjustments here and there upon my request. The idea was to discover the natural wonders and marvelous landscapes of Iceland. In 8 days.
So let's hop back in time by a couple of weeks and do a nice tour of the land of ice and fire.
The day started nicely, with a homemade breakfast in a nicely furbished dining room.
But before watering your mouth, let's talk about a little detail. At this time of the year, the sun doesn't set. And in Iceland, unlike in some countries further south like France and Portugal, the windows don't have blinds. Only curtains. That let pass the light. I don't know if it's because they want to enjoy the few moments of light they get during the year, but for strangers it can be quite disturbing. Especially when you are used to sleep in total darkness.
So yeah you've guessed it, I was awaken almost every morning around 4, by the lovely summer sun that never sleeps. Now, back to our stomach.
I was going to get my usual sweet breakfast — bread & jam and hot chocolate — when I saw the fish displayed nicely. Herring, salmon... And it looked pretty yummy. So I decided to have a sweet and savoury breakfast. And damn, my mouth was thankful. I expected all fish to be salty, but some of the herring was prepared with some kind of honey sauce and it was... omnom-yummy.
Hanged on the wall was an oil painting, of a dramatic landscape, surely somewhere in Iceland, in which the guests would get lost while enjoying the food and planning their day. We also had the visit of a black cat, probably routinely coming to wait for some treat.
What a way to start the day.
Look at those bills. They are quite stunning. Being used to manipulate Euros, which are quite frankly dull and unoriginal, this came as a surprise. In fact, at first I didn't pay much attention because I was expecting the same kind of boring artwork. I only really looked at them when checking to see how much I had left.
Oh and no I'm not that rich, 1€ is about 111 Icelandic Króna and around 100 ISK for 1 USD.
As you may know, Christopher Nolan shot some parts of Interstellar in Iceland.
It was indeed in the South region, but not exactly on this glacier. It was in Vatnajökull National Park.
Heading to Vík where I'll be staying for my second night in Iceland. In Myrdalur precisely, between Skógar and Vík, close to Sólheimajökull glacier.
As you may have heard, the weather can change pretty quickly here, and indeed it did today. After a rainy, windy afternoon, clouds started to go have a look elsewhere, letting the sky blue and the sun shine in the evening. (yes, blue can be a verb ;)
It was the perfect time to go to Vík village and have a walk on the Black Beach. That's right, black sand. Because yellow sand is so boring, they couldn't have the same as everybody else. And vikings are badass. Kidding aside, black sand is a usual feat of volcanic islands.
In the late 19th century this was a developing area, thanks to fisheries and trade. But it was also a naturally unstable area. Sand-drifting and flooding where not uncommon during extreme periods. Thus putting the houses and locals in danger.
The 1918 Katla eruption did not help either, expanding the beach due to large amounts of sand and gravel being washed out into the ocean. Roads had to be regularly cleared of the sand, which was also being blown onto the houses by the wind.
In 1933 a sand stabilization program with vegetation was launched and the area was fenced off. Stone walls were erected, different kind of grass planted. Later on, a flood embankment and a groyne were also built.
The village of Vík is now better protected and the beach rebuilt and extended.
What a surprise this morning. A bright blue sky. A perfect day for a walk in the mountains. After yesterday's shower, wind and grey sky this a welcome change.
The first part of the road leading to the trekking starting point was easy to access. But quite early on, a warning sign informed of a restricted access. But while parking, I saw someone walking back to his car to hit the road. I checked it too. And came to the same conclusion as the previous guy. And so I went, fearlessly.
Well, on a few occasions my heart beat went faster. This is definitely a road that one shoudln't take during winter or on a rainy day. But it was totally worth it. Plus it saved me walking 12km before the real trek even started.
After walking for a little more than an hour I started to look for a nice spot to draw the view. And there it was. Right next to the walking path, a glacier and facing it, a rock perfect for sitting.
I wasn't able to draw much longer than an hour, because even though it was a really sunny day, the wind was freezing. Even on sea level it's pretty cold but high up in the mountains, and in front of glacier (and I had forgotten my gloves, because yeah let's be totally silly, did I say it was sunny?) I'll let you imagine...
So, this drawing is unfinished because of a thermal body issue.
I've never done that before. Actually I rarely do landscape, and when I do, it's in a nice and warm place, on a comfy chair, and not sitting on a rock in front of a glacier.
Look at those colours, blue, purple, yellow, green... What a palette.
After that long walk, followed by a long drive to go the next guest-house, the body was in need of a refill.
Side note: be careful about waiting for the next gas station to refill you car tank. In some places you can easily go for a hundred kilometer before seeing another one. It almost got me...
Back to the gas for my body. What was waiting me in the guest-house restaurant was a nice buffet, with once again some fish (herring and salmon appetizers) blood pudding and sheep pâté. The fish was again really good, the pudding was nice, but I couldn't finish the pâté. It was a small piece, but was a bit too fat and weird for my taste.
After yesterday's sunny break, the weather went back to its usual watery grey style. The wind was particularly strong. That combined with rain and you would get totally drenched in a second. But this wasn't a problem, there are quite a few indoors places to visit in the area.
Starting with the Vatnajökul museum in Höfn.
There, visitors can know more about how early settlers lived, the geology of the region and birdlife.
The Humaröfnin restaurant is one of the must go place of the town. Its speciality? Langoustine. It's in the name. Humar, lobster. And damn, my belly was well treated.
Bones, sticks and stones. Vilmundur Þorgrímsson has quite a wild imagination. Putting together whale bones, reindeer antlers, rocks, wood, stone eggs sculptures he created an open air museum that is unlike anything else. It's like stepping in a different world. And in fact you can enter in Odin's cabin or Thor's.
Next stop on the roadmap: Eskifjördur. Town and port on the east coast.