Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jökulsárlón

On our own, Rob and I decided to drive across the entirety of the south side of Iceland, all so that we could see essentially a giant ice cube tray on the other side.
 We stopped first here at the harbor closest to the Vestmannaeyjar Islands. This is where my grandmother's grandmother was born and it has a fascinating history which includes slavery, murders, and volcanoes. We looked into visiting, but the schedule didn't work out and I would have heaved most of my internal organs overboard on the ferry ride over. I'll just have to go back and see it on the next trip!
 Next to that Rob wanted to stop and see this waterfall. It is called Seljalandsfoss and I found out that it was a waypoint during the first leg of the Amazing Race 6 (Wikipedia is just so informative!).

You can crawl back behind it.
So we did.
Just beautiful scenery everywhere
[click to enlarge] This shows more of the drive -- there was so much! Icelandic horses and lambs, lupines, rocks off of what Rob called the Cliffs of Insanity, the harbor out to the Vestmannaeyjar Islands, and what Rob's friend calls "teddy bear rocks". There were miles upon miles of each of these landscapes. Here are some of the bigger scenes:

 There were lots of hillside farms along the drive. Green pastures, waterfalls, volcano directly above it . . . (the one that went off in 2010 and stopped all the traffic across Europe, Eyjafjallajokull). These are a hardy people, inured to catastrophic natural disasters.
 We drove through two sections like this -- it looked like miles and miles of parking lots with rivers running through them.
 And there were nearly always glaciers above us. Finally we turned the southeast corner of the island and headed directly into a terrible rain and wind. It was so bad that we nearly missed our destination:
 Jökulsárlón, a lake at the edge of a glacier. When chunks drop off of the country's largest glacier, they plop in here and float out to the beach. I left the boat and two guys in to give a frame of reference.
 Why are some of them so blue? We never did figure it out.
 We looked at the pictures when we got back and said "It wasn't that bad! Why didn't we stay and take more?" But look at that rain on my coat and the wind on my hood. It was gale force. We took as many pictures as we could from the car.
 Even after doing that we still both got soaked. It was plenty cold. And wet. And certainly windy.
 The sea birds were even coming in to get away from the storm. We saw one lone seal as well.
 Yay! We made it! We just drove four hours to freeze out here in the rain in front of giant ice cubes!
 Then we drove out to the beach which, in better weather, is absolutely stunning with the pieces of ice melting on the black sand. I don't think we could stand to be out there more than two minutes, and I was surprised that any of our pictures turned out, because we really couldn't see anything while we were there!

 We drove back around on the other side and stopped in for cake and hot chocolate to warm up. If we had been willing to freeze, there was a group going out in an amphibious boat while we were there. Some of them were only wearing short sleeves and flip flops. Brrrr!
We turned our car around and headed back for home. Iceland in the summer is a great place to go exploring, because you almost can't drive in the dark. We made it home by 9pm or so and it was still two hours before sunset!

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