Travels in Europe: Iceland, Part 2

After visiting some waterfalls and the capital in the last post, now we were in the south of Iceland for a two night stay at a guest house/b&b run by an eccentric Icelander named Snaebjorn. His property even has a name, Onundarhorn, complete with paths to the black sand beaches. When we arrived, we met a lovely couple who were driving the Golden Circle (which is a famous, 11-day minimum, route that goes around all of Iceland). They told us the night before the Northern Lights had been visible; but we had not expected to see them this time of year, so we missed them. We asked them about the path the black sand beach, but they did not know it, and Snaebjorn was out visiting with a neighbor, they told us.

We ate our dinner of (more) sandwiches and apples, and then, as the sun had still not set completely, we decided to go looking for beach. At the end of the same road our B&B was on was a high-end, one story, hotel, we went that way, and took the path we found there. We saw no one else after we passed the hotel, and about forty-five minutes later, after watching the sun make a bright appearance, peaking out from underneath the dark, overcast clouds,

we found the bridge to the beach. We crossed it, but didn’t see the water, and since it was getting dark, and we had one more night here, we went back to the B&B. We drank proseccos and listened to our host Snaebjorn tell us stories about Icelandic horses and how he used to ride (and win all the races) and how he now had 50+ of them at another farm, and a few on this one, that we might see come to window (spoiler, we did not see them).

The next morning we headed out early, after Snaebjorn made us some of the best waffles we had ever eaten (we each had three, better to carb load before the day out), we were on the road for our three-hour drive to see a glacier. Jokulsarlon Glacial Lake has small icebergs, calm waters, the smoothest of stones (even huge ones) on its shores. There are nice viewing points as well, bathrooms on site, a couple food stands, free parking (bonus!), boat tours and even kayak rentals. There was a full parking lot and some tour buses, which led us to walk down the beach to avoid the crowds. It was a short path down and up some small rolling hills with a path until we reached the lakeshore. We took some more pictures of the black, white and blue icebergs.

Across the street from the Lake is the Atlantic Ocean, and a beach they call the Diamond Beach, named as such due to the small to very small iceberg pieces (that shine in the sun) that float up to shore. We ate another meal of sandwiches and fruit and chips as we faced the beach. After that we were on our way back, a three hour journey westward on the highway One. We saw a variety of landscapes; mostly either green or yellow grass, pales moss on massive amounts of rocks, hills and small mountains in some backgrounds, and small villages and churches amongst the green plains.

The landscape was not exactly what I had expected, but it was peaceful and serene on the roadways, with the ocean on one side and memorable landscapes on the other.

We made another near off-road stop at the base of a mountain trail, and right next to it was the remains of a hundreds of years old cemetery, and some big sheep. We shooed them off, because they’re sheep.

Our next stop was for a bit of an gravel road walk around a sizable glacier Svínafellsjökull. White the day was overcast, and thus the glacier and surrounding area are not the most photogenic, but it was very cool to walk around with much fewer fellow vacationers.

Our last stop before heading back was the nearby Dyrhólaey Lighthouse, close to the town of Vik. It is a bit of a winding road to reach the popular lighthouse;

one can see a long black sand beach,

and of rock formations in the nearby ocean:

We ended our night as we had done the night previous, but instead of taking the long way to the black sand beach, we went right for it. Still very cloudy, we were left alone on the black sand beach.

We listened to the ocean waves; felt and the cool (but not freezing cold) waters; were lucky enough to see a seal, just for a moment, say hello and goodbye, and we found that a good sign.

I mentioned earlier that we had missed seeing the Northern Lights while in Reykjavík; well, the Australian couple also staying at our b&b said there was a chance that evening; and Jesse had been tracking the weather app and it said a clear sky around 10:30pm, so we prepared by doing all our packing first. The Australian couple went out at first near sight; we joined them for a time and could see so many stars, more than we have seen on a dark sky in a long time. However, we didn’t see much of anything like the Northern lights, so after a while we went back inside. Our host told us that we should see them if they start from the window in our bedroom, so we opened the shade, and then fell asleep a little after midnight.

We were awoken by a knock on the door; it was 1:45 in the morning, and our host said we could see the northern lights. Way past half-asleep, we put on pants, socks, coats, hats, and shoes; making our way outside as fast as we could. There was a definite chill in the air, and then we saw them. Like grey shapes and characters moving all around the sky like ghosts fighting. It was a show; as our eyes woke up completely, every corner of the sky looked different, had different grey shapes and characters. It looked like a mad symphony but there was no music.

We later learned that pictures will show the colors, but not what you see with your eyes. We saw shooting stars, too and though I forgot my camera, what I saw was pretty unbelievable in itself. Lucky us to see the Northern Lights our last night in Europe as it was an unexpected and awesome last night.

The next morning, a bit groggy, we made the two-and-a-half hour drive from the b&b to the airport, but we had one final stop to make first (besides the gas station, because the rental car always has to be returned with the same amount of gas, that is). We made an appointment at the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa within a lava field. The water is milky blue and warm, and even quite hot in some places.

Outside the Spa

We spent our last couple hours in Iceland here; drinking sparking wine, getting a glop of white goo put in each our hands; the included facial is to be applied by oneself. We found a spot near a hot water spout and enjoyed the relaxing vibe. When we entered it seemed there were a lot of people coming and going, and we had seen a few huge tourist buses outside, and thus figured the spa would be packed. On the contrary it wasn’t; the pools are quite large, with a couple bars, people talking with friends and loved ones, sipping on drinks, with either white or grey masks on, as the spa is large enough to accommodate a lot of people.

After enjoying the spa it was time to go; we showered and dressed, and were on our way to the airport. Our European journey, began almost 500 days earlier, had come to an end. What a great experience and I’ve felt lucky enough to live it and chronicle it on this blog. Thanks to everyone to reading! More travel places to come, this time from home in the US of A!

Published by Phil Barrington

Currently living in Spain, Accountant by Day, Writer by Night. Lover of baseball, travel ,and spreadsheets. Check out my blog: https://waypastcool.org/

2 thoughts on “Travels in Europe: Iceland, Part 2

  1. I have so enjoyed your blog – thank you so much for sharing your and Jesse’s adventures. I would love to visit all the places you wrote about. Maybe one day!

    Like

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