South Iceland : reindeer, puffins, waterfalls, and a little lamb that pooped on Josh

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Europe » Iceland
June 17th 2014
Published: June 18th 2014
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Two things brought us instant joy inIceland: hot pots and ice cream. I made sure our departure from Northeast Iceland should include both things.

We stopped at Selardalslaug, a riverside swimming pool and hot tub in the middle of nowhere. We did have to wait for a children’s swim class to be over, but then we got FREE access to the pool and the lovely view in the river valley. Afterwards we stopped for gas and ice cream in Vopnafjörður before heading south towards the eastern fjords.

East Iceland

We made a pit stop in Egilsstadir. We had to wait until the thrift shop opened at 4 pm – seriously do not understand Iceland business hours – where I struck out, but Josh found a killer homemade sweater for $15. Although he is only 26 - his sex appeal improved dramatically 😊

Our little car braved the steep incline down and around some of the east fjords. The views were stunning but preferred the quant fishing villages that we first saw in the West Fjords.

We spent the night at the quaint, and creeky, 100 year old Berunes Hostel farm house. I was in dire need of holding a little lamb so the owner set up a farm tour for me in the morning. Josh woke up early and joined me on a tour of the dairy barns, through the soon-to-be steak steers barn, across a creek (which I fell in) and over to a barn packed with newborn lambs and their moms, waiting to get sent out to pasture.

I got to hold (maul) a one-day-old lamb and goat. When I passed the little lamb over to Josh it crapped on him, and I forced him to hold on so I could take photos in between fits of laughter.

Southeast Iceland

We picked up Simon and along the way west we spotted our first herd (three) of wild reindeer. We ventured on towards Hofn, pronounced hup, which is a harbour town famous for langoustine. I splashed out on the surf and turf of lamb and langoustine at Kaffi Hornid. And no, I did not have a problem holding a little lamb and then eating one for lunch all in the same day.

In the afternoon we stopped in at Jökulsárlón, a large glacial lake in southeast Iceland, on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. Multi-coloured Icebergs calve from the glacier and then park in the lagoon until they eventually melt down to sizes that can drift past the bridge and out to the Atlantic Ocean.

The lagoon has been used in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, James Bond’s Die another Day and in the intro to Batman Begins.

I had never seen anything like it. I had a blast playing around on chunks of ice near the water’s edge or on the beach, although my attempt at a headstand ended in bloody knuckles and bruised head. But Josh got a pretty cool photo so I guess it was worth it. There were lagoon boat rides you could take but us cheapies enjoyed the views from the shore; there was more than enough to keep us entertained for hours.

We spent the night at Svinafell farm which was only 8 km from Skaftafell National Park. In the morning we joined the herd of tourists making the easy walk to Svartifoss, a beautiful waterfall flanked by black basalt columns that seem to pop out of nowhere from the green hillside.

Afterwards we ventured over towards Skaftafellsjokull where we played around on the base of the glacier. For some reason it wasn’t popular with tourists, possibly because of the quicksand/mud warnings, so we had the whole place to ourselves.

We settled into the Puffin Hostel (the puffin was wearing a fancy tuxedo on the logo) in Vik, Iceland’s southernmost town with distinct black sand beaches. Strangely, this was where we saw a dead puffin that had washed ashore.

Southwest Iceland

To the west of Vik I enjoyed playing on the beautiful stack of basalt columns that look like a giant church organ at Reynisfjara; an excellent place for jumping pictures. We intended to head west but the gas light came on so we had to double back to Vik for gas and ice cream. We got a new kid at the counter and he overcharged Josh for a small, charging him for a medium, but giving him a small. Josh called him on it, so instead of making him a new one, he just gave Josh two cones – making him one happy camper.

As we toured through Southwest Iceland we started to see more and more tourists. We joined the crowd with a pit stop at Skogafoss. After getting sprayed at the bottom of the 62 m high waterfall we climbed the nicely welded steps to the viewing platform; I realized I am out of shape and the all-Icelandic ice cream all the time diet was not helping.

By the time we got to Seljalandsfoss I had hit my waterfall threshold for the day and would not leave the car to brave the wind and the rain. Josh made a sandwich in the car and I laughed at the throngs of tourists coming off the tour buses while Simon walked behind the waterfall and came back to the car. Seljalandsfoss – check.

We made a pit stop in Selfoss at the thriftshop I had heard about. My tally included an Icelandic zip-up sweater, three short sleeved homemade wooly tops, a scarf, and a knit bag for $80. Considering a new sweater goes for $200 – 250 in stores I wished I had bought more for gifts.

We rocked up at the Bus Hostel in Reykjavik to find Paul and Kevin (who we met in Akureryi). We formed a posse and went out for a night of pub-crawl adventures –Reykjavik style.

Since we had a full day of sight-seeing planned Josh and I tried to tap out at 3 a.m. but I lost part of my shoe and we had to go back. What ensued was a comedic encounter that felt like it was 10 minutes long. A local man who bought me an ice cream where Josh decided to have a hot dog, all three of us watched a teenager almost vomit in a fountain, the guy pointed out where she ended up puking around the corner, then I found my shoe, then some hipster locals helped put it back together, and then one of them put snus tobacco in Josh’s mouth. We found Paul and the three of us walked (Josh sort of sailed) back – arriving at the hostel at 4:30 am.

Golden Circle

It was our last day with the car and our last day to complete one of the most touristy activities in Iceland– the golden circle.

It was pouring rain when we arrived at the first point of interest -Þingvellir National Park. Famous for establishing the first parliament in the world, and the site of the separating North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, it was hard to enjoy the natural surroundings when we were getting pelted in the face with rain. I was refused to pay to use the toilet at the visitor centre, but Josh was pleasantly surprised by his $2 coffee from their machine. He actually exclaimed “this is the cheapest coffee I’ve had in Iceland!”

Next up on the tourist track we were entertained by the Geysir – a hot water spout that shoots up every 4 – 8 minutes. Didn’t matter that I knew it was coming, I would jump, scream, or hide behind Josh every time. I was slightly chilled from the rain so I parked myself in front of steaming pot of water that smelled like eggs. Honestly, we came across the egg fart smell so often in Iceland i'm convinced you could have gas the whole time you are here and no one would know - you could just blame it on nature.

Finally, we stopped at Gullfoss, a lovely double cascade waterfall. I was most excited to try the lamb soup which Arianne had told me about; the $18 price tag included a free refill and the boys all took advantage of the free bread with my dish.

We strayed towards Hruni, where we heard there was a free hot pot. A hand painted sign got us to a dirt road where we climbed over the hill and found the shack which acted as a change room. It was windy so we ran from the shack to the natural stone-lined hot pot that was filled with Germans. Certainly not the blue lagoon, but it was free and very entertaining.

After another night of drinking, and rocking out to some 80's tunes at the Big Lebowski Bar, we had to get up in the morning to drop off the car. I was sad to say goodbye to our little car – we survived gravel roads, monstrous hills, roads to theArctic Circle, the West Fjords, pot holes and pot, pot, bumps. After two weeks together we handed the Icelandic rocket back to Fair Car - she was good to us; we will never forget you.

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