Part Three: Not Finished With Iceland (3/3)
It’s Monday and our final day in Iceland. To be honest, we didn’t have any plans for today; all our boxes were ticked. Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, Geysirs, Gulfoss… the works. All done and dusted. Unfortunately, there were no Northern Lights during our trip; it just wasn’t the right weather for it. Little did I know that today would end up being my favourite day of them all…
Driving Down to Vik
Sunday night we deliberated over our options for our final day in Iceland. Should we follow yesterday’s path but deviate slightly north to Glymur, Iceland’s highest waterfall? Should we spend a cultural day in the city visiting galleries and museums? Or should we spend the day making the 2 hour+ drive to Vik on the south coast, passing waterfalls and volcanoes on the way to the Black Sand Beach? This was the longest option of the three – and the one we eventually chose.
Using our fold-out map I marked some waterfalls and hot spots along the route to Vik on the south coast- they were pretty linear and we decided this would make a pleasant, albeit long, final day. We had hired a car and we were looking to take full advantage of it. We wanted to be out of our hotel by 10:00 and enjoy a whole day of exploring before our flight at 19:45. We’d be looking to make the long journey with a few stops along the way before heading to the airport at around 14:00. It was a tight schedule but before we had time to think it over, we were off. We packed up the car and set off on our long drive.
Our first stop was nearly 2 hours later at Sejelandfoss, a beautiful waterfall with fantastic photo opportunities. There is a walkway right up to the waterfall and even a pathway that takes you around and behind it through a rocky enclave. Naturally we stood on the jagged rock that pointed towards the fall, coating us both in a fine, misty spray that ensured we were both soaked right through to the pants. This may sound like hell to some people fell but to us it felt refreshing, involving and somewhat cleansing. We squelched our way back to the car, not quite realising how wet we were until we sat down.
The next stop, Skogafoss, was even more impressive with its much wider run-off with the flat, rocky surface that the waterfall crashed down upon being far more accessible than the small lake that took the water from Sejelandfoss. Mrs Carl kept the heater on and stayed in the car in an attempt to dry off. I explored all I could before, naturally, running back to the car and gushing over the photos I had taken and sights I had seen.
We were back on the road to Vik and its famous Black Sand Beach; but not before calling upon Eyjafjallajökull, home of the infamous volcano that caused the ash clouds of 2010. A quick photo op and a bit of reflection time later we found ourselves on the cold, wet, windy beach of Vik surrounded by martian-like black sand. The landscape here is like nothing else on this planet. The midnight black of the rocks and sand are in stark contrast to the pristine white snow which sits upon it. Our photos looked positively greyscale. The wind was howling and the 20 foot waves pounded relentlessly onto the shore, this would be an extremely treacherous place to enter to the ocean. The wind was so strong it could support your body weight and choke you all at the same time – holding a camera steady was nigh on impossible and catching your breath was only possible if facing away from the choppy breeze. Just astonishing.
Unfortunately at this point our time in Iceland was coming to an end- it was 2pm on the dot and our car was due back to the dealer at 5pm. We hit the road and pulled into the airport bang on the hour; perplexing the rental clerk with our wet, windswept, tired faces – it must have looked like we had walked to the airport rather than drove!!.
A Fourth Part to The Blog…. ?
So it turns out that our 19:45 was delayed somewhat. We boarded at about 19:30 and were still sitting on the tarmac at 21:00 because (would you believe it…) there was ice on the runway. You couldn’t make it up. The captain made a sullen announcement at around this time telling us that the ice was too poor and they were having difficulty convincing the airport to clear it as there were only 2 flights left for the entire night. Plus, the winds were more fierce than the plane was capable of handling. Comforting.
After some more awkward waiting the captain made a new announcement, it was seeming more and more unlikely that we would be leaving Keflavik Airport this evening. You could sense the whole plane lift in jubilation. There was a definite buzz as people looked forward to staying an extra day in the capital at the expense of the airline. There was chatter floating around the airplane about people having to call up work tomorrow morning, cancelling taxis and I’m sure more than a few emails were drafted by people to their insurance companies/easyjet HQ.
It was approximately 21:45 when the captain hopped back onto the intercom. “Good news everybody!” The atmosphere was tense and excitable. We all knew what the good news would be….
“We’re clear for take off. Sorry for the delay”. And with that, the engine started up and three hundred hearts sank as the plane taxi-ed forward. That was not the good news we were all hoping for.
3 Days of vacation and we were absolutely, totally, completely, madly in love with Iceland. The natural beauty is immense, the opportunities to explore such alien terrain is exciting and the snow… ahh… who doesn’t love the snow? The country is like nothing else I have never seen. We’re not the kind of people that tend to be drawn towards hiking or walking but there is something magnetic about the Icelandic landscape that draws you in.
Hiring a car so liberating and the roads, scenery and ease of navigation all lead to an enjoyable, stress-free adventure which I would highly recommend.
Food and drink are the obvious expenses when coming to Iceland. We hired an apartment for our stay so that we would be able make our own breakfasts, takeaway lunches or dinners – in the end the quality and temptation of fresh, hot restaurant food and drink was too big a draw and our microwave and toaster went largely unused. However, this CAN all be done on the cheap. If you’re happy with beans on toast, microwave meals or just simply snacking on junk then these options are all easily available to you.
The only thing we could have wished for would have been longer days. If you’re a hiker, more of an explorer or want to spend more time at each location then you definitely need to consider a summer visit where you can really take advantage of the longer days . Our average stop off was approximately 20 minutes at each location and on both Sunday and Monday we only just managed to hit all our points before the sun set.
If you’d like to see this entire 3-part blog come to life then please check out my youtube video here.
Next Time In Iceland…
Driving was fantastic, but what was most surprising was the size and scale of the country. It seems huge…. or at least it does with the road system and speed limits that are in place. I overestimated that we would be able to drive to the east coast… some 8 hours away… before I put the destination into google. The country is vast.
Saying that, next time (and there will be a next time!) we’d love to explore some of the more remote regions. We’d take a car on a one way trip (perhaps the ring road) and make several different, unique stops along the way. I’m sure its easier to spot the northern lights from these remote towns and one cosy off hotels you find along the way.
Would I visit Reykjavik again? Probably not. We’ve seen it, done it and to be honest… I’m looking forward to never having to spell that word again in my life…! My recommendation: grab a car and book hotels along a one way path see it all, experience as much as possible. Don’t be tied down to tours and time schedules, be flexible. Find your own Iceland.
Thanks for sticking around! Remember there are also two more parts to this story, two videos and a few reviews to boot!
Where did we miss? Where should we see next? What was your best experience in Iceland? I’d love to find out more. Hit me up in the comments section beloowwwww… (P.S. Next Stop, PARIS!).