Thursday, June 27, 2013

Day 11: Jökulsárlón

Today was the day in which we officially finished our drive around Iceland's Ring Road (Route 1); we left Höfn and headed west towards Reykjavik; along the way we planned on stopping to go on a boat tour of glaciers Jökulsárlón, a large glacial lagoon in southeast Iceland, on the borders of Vatnajökull National Park, which includes Vatnajökull, Europe's largest glacier. Although it was overcast, it wasn't raining, but I do feel like I had one of two authentic Icelandic experiences today: While I was driving 90 km/h, a sheep ran out on the road in front of me and I came within inches of hitting it. Fortunately, it ran off in the right direction at just the right moment, but I was certainly awake by that point.

The much more interesting authentic Icelandic experience was, of course, our boat tour of the icebergs and the glacier lagoon. We'd arrived a few hours early before our boat tour, so while we were waiting, we walked down to the beach, and saw the glaciers were at least temporarily stranded on the beach (this happened to be during low tide). At least one was so big, Ed could stand on it.

They were beautiful, though; many were just sitting there, bobbing away in the ocean, in varying shades of blue.

Once we got out on the boat, we were surrounded by blue icebergs, many of which were huge, and a sight to behold.

Halfway through the boat tour, of course it started raining again, and remained raining for the duration of our nearly five-hour drive, but that didn't stop us from seeing some remarkable scenery. About an hour before we reached Vik, we came to Laufskálavarða, a lava ridge surrounded by stone cairns, between the Hólmsá and Skálmá rivers, close to the road north of Álftaver. All travelers crossing the desert of Mýrdalssandur were supposed to pile stones up to make a cairn, which would bring them good fortune for their journey. We couldn't find any unspoken-for stones to add to the already existing piles, though.

We also passed many square miles of fields of Arctic lupine; both sides of the road had expanses that we couldn't see the end of. And we encountered similar stretches of fields, on both sides of the road, that had many square miles of moss-covered volcanic rock, something that I find fascinating. It's such an interesting landscape.

For the week that we're staying in Reykjavik, we've rented a (very) small apartment. It's about the size of a regular hotel room, but comes with a tiny kitchen that encapsulates a two-burner stove, sink, microwave, college-sized fridge, plates and utensils, a frying pan, and the ability to make toast, coffee, and tea, all of which is quite handy; we'd been discussing just bringing in sandwich accoutrements or other food so we could eat some light meals here, and it's nice to have the ability to have a cold soda in the fridge as well.

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