Monday, June 8, 2015

farewell ísland

And our last day in Iceland. Also to be edited, but I need these photos public for something, so here you go. Iceland preview!


Landmannalaugar. More words coming for this, too!

rest day in reykjavík

After our epic car adventures we took a rest day in the city. Here are some pictures from that day (more words coming soon!!)

Glymur Canyon

Guys, I've been holding out on you. Today's post and the next one are both, without a doubt, the best of the best of my Iceland posts. These are the prettiest, most adventuresome (a word with a better mouthfeel than adventurous) things we did, and I totally suck for not getting them to you sooner. But I don't know how to do justice to these next few posts, you know? But no time like the present, so let's dive in. 

We woke up in Stykkishólmur and started our day with a hike up the small mountain (hill, really) of Helgafell. Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir, a heroine from the sagas, is buried at the bottom of the Fell, and legend has it that if you hike from her grave to the top without saying a word or looking back, face east, and make three wishes, they'll come true. So. Looking forward to that.  

From there we drove to Glymur, the second-highest waterfall in Iceland and the single best thing we did our entire trip. I'm pretty sure Ross would want me to tell all of you that he found Glymur in our guidebook.

Glymur is quite clearly not for the faint of heart. It involves hiking through a cave, over a river, and up up up a (at times treacherous) canyon. Are you drooling yet, adventurers?

You should be.

An hour or so later, once we got to the top of the falls, we were so psyched that we decided to keep going along the river to the lake.

This had worked for us on other trails; it's remarkably easy to stray from the path in Iceland. But we were following a path, or at least we thought we were. After a while, though, we realized if there had been a trail we had lost it. Worse than that, we were swarmed by millions of gnats. It was hard to breathe. There aren't many bugs in Iceland, and I'm pretty sure it's because they all live in this one meadow.

So we decided to climb up the mountain. Which was a good idea...

...until suddenly the fog started rolling in and it really, really wasn't.

(Ominous-looking plant life)

Have you ever, maybe while watching an action move or something, wondered how you'd respond in a life-and-death situation? Would you be cool and collected? Decisive and effective? Would you be the hero? Or would you freak out and be a liability for everyone else? I found myself wondering this as the fog rolled in and we still hadn't found the trail. Also, you can't quite tell this from the pictures, but we were on the side of a mountain. It was steep and the rocks were slick and loose. I was genuinely afraid that we were going to cause a rock slide.

Turns out, when I'm faced with a potentially life-ending situation I become neither heroic or frantic. Instead, I go very, very quiet. Ross says I was freaking him out.

This picture accurately represents my mood at the time.

And this represents my mood once we finally, after a long and scary time, found the trail.

And this is a place that exists in the world.

Hours later, finally back in Reykjavík, we were rewarded.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

the third big day, or more consonants!

We began the next day in Þingvellir National Park, a hugely important site in Icelandic history for reasons I frankly don't feel like explaining. Please peruse this Wikipedia article at your leisure. We were torn at Þingvellir between the desire to see the site (which is also where the North American and Eurasian plates are drifting away from each other, so geology) and the desire to get out of the cold driving rain and onto other adventures. 

Other adventures won.

We decided to drive that day to Stykkishólmur, a fishing town on the northern end of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. More consonants! On the way, we wanted to do some hiking, so we pulled over to the side of the road in a nearly random location and climbed up a really big hill.

These pictures don't do the view justice, but trust me: it was worth it.

This multiple-hour hike was followed by more driving! We saw these signs pretty often. I think they're self-explanatory.

In every single picture I took of Ross in Iceland he looks like a completely intrepid adventurer. Which, of course, he is.

After driving driving driving we made it to Stykkishólmur just in time to admire the boats and the island of Stykkið, which means "the piece" in Icelandic. Here, a note about Icelandic names. They tend not to be terribly imaginative, which means that a tourist like me can pick certain things up pretty easily. Here, by memory (five months later!) are some Icelandic terms:

  • Foss: Waterfall
  • Jökul: Glacier
  • Vatn: Water (often seen in lakes)
  • Vík: Bay
  • Fell: Mountain
Stykkið is the rocky island you can see in these next two photos.

It was beautiful.

Later that evening (10:30? 11:00? Something late; this was the farthest north we went and so had the brightest nights) we took some pictures at this bay and turned in for the evening. Good night, Iceland.

Not pictured: 

  1. The most amazing hot dogs in the known universe
  2. Liam and his boyfriend, Nick, who we ran into in town! Iceland is very small, and because of the conference, we ran into people everywhere
  3. Steven Seagal. But don't worry; he was there
Next up, Chapter Eight, in Which Your Intrepid Explorers Discover the Most Beautiful Place In The World.