Woke up at 6:45am and realized we both slept through the night wonderfully, minus one sleep interruption around midnight. We packed our day bags and headed downstairs for hotel breakfast, which mainly consisted of coffee, Skyr (Icelandic yogurt), and eggs. We filled up our water bottle and headed outside to a giant white lifted jeep.
Our tour today is taking place in a Land Rover Discovery that has monster truck tires and is mega lifted. I sat in front while Katie sat in the back and we headed to pick up our other two tour members. They happened to be from Vermont, mother and son, and their names were Karlan and Louise.
The first hour of the drive was merely getting to south Reykjavik. Erik told us about Iceland’s empty volcano, where if you visit in the summer time you can take a tour and get lifted down into the volcano to see the insides! Apparently it is the only one in the world, and just happened to survive all the earthquakes and drained somehow during it’s eruption. Fascinating.
We also learned that 80% of Iceland’s produce is grown in their greenhouses. Soil, not hydroponics. They even import European insects to continue to grow their food in a non-pesticide/non-gmo way.
We made it to our first stop, which was…a gas station! We grabbed some food to-go and made our way to the real first destination: black sandy beaches in an area called Vik.
Apparently it is a very dangerous beach because people, mainly/mostly/100%of-the-time tourists because they turn their back to the beach, and the tide sweeps them away. Or they go to the top of a cliff, take a photo, steps back, and falls off. Erik said the waves aren’t consistent in tide, but they look consistent. We witnessed this while watching the tide.
Basically, a few of the waves came up on the beach maybe 30 feet away from us, the the next wave, which looked exactly the same, actually came up just 5 feet past us. The waves are definitely very powerful here, and there is absolutely no swimming/surfing/whatever on this section of the shore.
We continued to what is referred to as the “arch” which meant we climbed a steep hill in the car and immediately was greeted by forceful winds.
The view was great, we were up high looking down at the black sand beaches, and there was a lighthouse too. The “arch” refers to an arch in one of the cliffs where seagulls and puffins (puffins decided to migrate to the other shore on the island YESTERDAY) chill. After a few photos, we got in the car and headed out to the treasure waterfall.
The treasure waterfall (Skógafoss) has a legend that a viking buried his treasure with the help of several other vikings in a cave behind the waterfall. Legend has it that it is very heavy, and full of riches. The lead viking killed the men that helped bury the treasure (to keep it secret). Many people tried to find the treasure, but they either died by falling into the water (while it was cold out), injured, or simply failed. A strong farmer’s son attempted to pull the treasure out and broke the handle. Fast-track to today and there is a folk museum in the same area as this waterfall, run by a very old man who has collected historical artifacts over the years, including this treasure chest handle. While he is still alive, he somehow has an order that no science may be attempted to retrieve the chest, because you must decide if you believe in the legend or not. So, we saw this waterfall, very gorgeous, and dreamed of treasure.
Continuing on we started a drive to Eyjafjallajökull (E15 because the letter E followed by 15 characters is easier to say). Erik let some air out of the tires before we continued on a very hole-filled and gravely road. We came upon a couple that got their car stuck. Luckily we were able to tow them! We continued on and gazed upon the vastness of Eyjafjallajökull. This volcano erupted in 2010. This is when Erik told us that the volcano Katla was due to erupt as of yesterday (it’s on a 170 year cycle). He said that one will ruin quite a bit of the south and change it’s landscape a bit. He said if we got stuck out in the area we were in, we would need to drive fast to the nearest mountain because the volcano eruption would melt the ice and create a flood that moves at 100km/minute and we would drown. He had dry humor hahaha.
We journeyed through Thor’s valley and took a small hike up a hill and got great photos.
Really gorgeous. We made our way back and stopped at Seljalandsfoss (waterfall) and were able to walk behind it! This was really cool because back in 2007 all of the water spray made it too dangerous to even get close to the waterfall (you would just slide backwards on the ice), let alone walk behind it.
We finished the day by driving on a different black sandy beach and even found some sand dunes to take advantage of. There was also a boat wreck that has some history that I don’t remember about and Katie is currently asleep so I can’t ask her haha.
We made it back in town just in time to be dropped off at the restaurant we met Jocelyn & Ryan at (we had Erik drop us off here instead of the hotel which was only 5 min away, but we would have been late!). It was great to see them! Very cool. The food was amazing too. The place was called Fish Market and we all got the “Icelandic Taste Course” which consisted of:
- amuse bouche of egg yolk, and something else I don’t remember. It was served in a cute egg that I will have pictures of later.
- slowly cooked HADDOCK with caramelized CAULIFLOWER purée, birch scorched onion & BRAMBLEBERRY granit, cauliflower heads & DILL oil
- caraway cured SALMON & cumin CHEESE, glazed carrot & SKYR foam, thornberry gel & smoked almonds with fresh herbs
- panfried LAMB SIRLOIN & pressed lamb, CELERY ROOT purée & fried potatoes, pickled mustard seeds & ANGELICA powder with warm MAYONNAISE
- scrumptious LIQUORICE & CHOCOLATE cremaux with BLUEBERRY sorbet & blueberry compot with thyme juice
So full! We said goodnight, walked back to our hotel, and are thankful we can sleep in a little bit tomorrow before getting breakfast. We have a tour from 12pm – 12am (hoping for Northern Lights), so my write up of the day won’t come until much later. But I will say, today was a great day. We saw so much of Iceland and had a great guide and great travelers. The Super Jeep company is one I would recommend to anyone.
Continue Reading: Iceland 2017 | Day 3: Hot Springs & Northern Lights-out