Wednesday, 2 August 2017

A Midsummer Night's Dream: Iceland's Enchanting South Coast

The day after I had taken the Golden Circle Tour, I took a whale sightseeing boat, didn't see any whales, but saw lots of colorful puffins. Later I met up with friends who had arrived from the US. We spent the day, which happened to be the longest of the year, exploring Reykjavik and enjoying lots of seafood.  Around midnight, we toasted the solstice at a local bar, the intriguingly named Uncle Tom's Cabin.

The following day we rented a car and drove about 30 miles east to a rural farmhouse, where we would be staying for the next couple of days. The house backed up on a field full of Icelandic ponies -- I mean horses, some of whom came close enough to say hello.

That evening we discussed plans to explore Iceland's south coast. We stayed up talking until about 2 am, losing track of time. After a late and leisurely breakfast, we set out around mid-day. The late start hardly mattered, because we didn't have to worry about running out of daylight. And the day was sunny and pleasantly warm.

Our first stop was a waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, one of many that grace this region. 


We glimpsed other waterfalls from a distance as we drove along the coast.

Before long we arrived at a valley that had been devastated by the eruption of a volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, which began in late March 2010. The name means "island mountain glacier." The eruption began under the ice sheet of the glacier, and produced a huge volume of volcanic ash, which disrupted transatlantic flights for days. It also produced massive flooding in the valley, destroying farm buildings and houses. We stopped at a museum shop belonging to one of the local families, who had suffered major losses. We viewed a film about the eruption, and bought t-shirts that said "What about Eyjafjallajokull don't you understand?" The photo below shows the valley and the snowcapped peak of the volcano.

Back in the car, we drove on to our next destination, Skogafoss, another spectacular waterfall.

We walked up a path from the base to get a view of the falls from the top. 

Nearby, we visited a restored village, where one can get a glimpse of life here in the late 19th century or so. The houses and most buildings have grass roofs. 

Our next stop took us down a small road to the edge of the glacier under which Eyjafjallajokull lies. From the car park, we walked a short distance to the glacier's foot. The ice was almost black, mixed as it was with volcanic ash.

From the glacier, we road on eastwards to the little town of Vik, which boasts a black beach, made of volcanic sand. From there, one can view some stacks offshore.

We had a bite to eat in a beachside cafe, and began our trip back to the farmhouse.On our return, we caught a great view of the volcano on the glacier. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the tour and for sharing those beautiful images!