Thursday, August 25, 2011

This morning was beautifully sunny when we woke up! It was totally awesome to see completely blue sky! And, fortunately, the blue and sun stayed with us all day! It made me happy, that’s for sure.

After a quick breakfast of oatmeal and/or granola, we headed off towards Vik…en route we stopped at many waterfalls, the first of which was my favourite. I don’t have the name, however, because it wasn’t written about in either of our books! It was super cool, however, because we could actually walk on a path behind the falls! It was awesome. The next one we got up close to visit was Skogafoss. It was much bigger than the first and had a tonne of stairs to climb up to the top of the cliff. Good work-out! Much easier falls to see today after our hike yesterday to see only one!

We then arrived at Dyrholaey, which is a protected nature area with the natural rock arch that is seen in many photos of Iceland. We are too late to see puffins this year (which makes me really sad!), but we actually did spot some wayyyyy down in the water with the help of some other tourists. Regardless, the arch, breathtaking views, and cliffs were pretty awesome. Below, to the East of the cliff is a long stretch of black sand beach. This section of beach is the only non-tropical beach to be rated by the US magazine – Islands – as one of the world’s top 10 beaches!! Kind of cool!!!

We stopped at the 300-person town of Vik to have an ice cream cone and to wander on the top-10 beach! It wasn’t quite sun tanning weather, but I did take my hat off during the walk! 😉

More driving brought us to a town called Foss…or waterfall…which was quite fitting because of the number of falls coming off of the glacier above. The area here has been devastated by the Laki volcano when it was active hundreds of years ago. In 1783, the eruption caused 30 billion tons of lava to pour down the mountain and the sulphuric acid and other gasses that remained in the air for 10 months caused the “Haze Famine” and wiped out about 1/5 of the Icelandic population, crops, and livestock! The ground is, once again, covered in lava fields. This time there is a lot of new ash as well, from the eruption of Grimsvotn earlier this year. When we were driving down the highway, there was actually ash being blown across the road – just like snow would be back home!

We stopped at an old farm called Nupsstadur, where there is a 17th century church, covered in grass, that people still come to worship in a few times during the summer. It is a historical site that seems to be run by a young-ish guy. The farm was in use by a gentleman aged 102 until two years ago! Prior to that, over the centuries, the farm had existed in one form or another. The guy there explained that through saga’s they have written record that the farm existed as early as 900 AD! He explained a bit about the Saga’s to us as well as some history of Laki volcano. He explained that Laki’s eruption in the 1700s helped to initiate the French revolution due to the haze that Europe experienced! I think this was my favourite stop today. It was neat to talk to a local and hear their perspective on their history! I wanted to see some houses covered in grass…and now I have seen that too! Yeah!

From this point, we could also get a good view of Lomagnupur, which is the largest flat-mountain in Iceland. It looks like a giant cliff and stands 770m tall!!

We arrived at Skaftafell around 5pm or so. This is the most popular area of Vatnajokull National Park. This national park covers 12% of Iceland’s total area, making it the biggest national park in Europe! The camping area is beautiful and is the starting point for many hikes and day trips up to the glacier. We did a short walk to the base of the Skaftafellsjokull glacier. It is covered in volcanic ash and is a black, charcoal colour! No bright blue glacier here!

Tomorrow it is off to a few more waterfalls and much more!

Later!

-AJ

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