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Published: August 4th 2014
Today was a day on the road, travelling from the highlands, to the south west and then across to the east of the island (due to the presence of Vatnajökull, taking up most of the central eastern part of the island it was not possible to take a more direct route). Yesterday we saw the western side of this monster glacier and today we have seen most of its southern edge and it dominates the whole south eastern area with little between the glacial mountains and the sea.
En route we stopped at Dyrhólaey, named for the arch stretching into the sea (holey door). This place is well known for its puffins and windy aspect. We experienced both today. The puffins were fantastic but the wind was so strong that it was hard to stay on your feet let alone hold a camera steady. The puffins didn’t seem to mind though. They huddled together on the cliff or bobbed about on the sea, regularly taking off and swooping in for what looked like a precarious landing with both feet stuck out serving as some sort of rudder. This is probably when they look their most endearing. We hope to see
them again when we travel back via the same route later this week and hopefully it won’t be quite as windy.
Just round the coast is Vik where we made a stop for lunch. There is not a huge amount there but it is quite picturesque and seems to be the hub for the area.
Most of our journey today has been on route 1, the main road that goes around the island. Until the 1970s the area where we are now staying was pretty inaccessible as they considered the land to the south of Vatnajökull to be unsuitable for bridges and it is crisscrossed with rivers flowing off the glacier. Part of one of the bridges was washed away in 1996 when Vatnajökull erupted and caused a huge flood.
We also saw Jökulsárlón, the lake into which huge ice floes break from the glacier and then flow into the sea. As we are staying in that area tomorrow evening, we plan to take one of the boat trips that take you right up to the edge of the glacier.
Tonight we are at Fosshotel Vatnajökull, which is very modern and stylish, which makes it seem
pretty incongruous in the area, as it seems more rural with lots of abandoned houses, presumably farmhouses, maybe following one of the eruptions or floods. We were enthusiastically greeted by a young black dog, soaking wet as he is obviously not allowed in and it was raining quite heavily (although it has stopped now).
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