Looking through the pictures from Iceland this week has been so refreshing. Switzerland is experiencing a freak heat wave this week and remembering these cool days is a good reminder that things won’t always be this sweaty.
We woke up early for our third full day of the road trip to drive 10 minutes on Highway 1 to Jökusárlón. It’s an ice lagoon that began formed as the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier started receding from the ocean. As of today the glacier has receded 7 kilometers and it’s only moving further away. In another fifty years, they expect the glacier to have completely eroded. It’s incredible to think we are seeing something that our children’s children may never have a chance to see. It made our visit feel sacred. We booked a tour through Zodiac Boat Tours and I would highly recommend it. We left on the first tour of the day (8:45 arrival, 9:15 departure) and we would also recommend that, if you can, you go as early as possible. We were the only people out on the lagoon and it was truly magnificent. The water was so calm and the feeling of isolation really complemented the whole experience. This boat tour was our favorite part of the whole trip (I really mean it this time!) The blue color is the most recently exposed ice, meaning that all the icebergs you see with blue have fallen from the glacier (or broken off from an even larger iceberg) in the last 24 hours. As we sat out by the edge of the glacier we could hear what sounded like thunder but what was really icebergs breaking apart and crashing into the water. Furthermore, when we got closer to some of the larger icebergs we could hear the frantic drip-drip-drip of the icebergs melting. It sounded like rain! We didn’t see anything major but we heard the transformations happening all around us. The black is of course ash from the surrounding volcanoes. The layers and striations tell of a volatile and storied history.
In the picture directly above you can see where the ice changes from an icy blue into white. This berg had just flipped and was now exposing it’s underbelly more or less. The bergs are regularly breaking apart and shifting their center of gravity. It’s a very cool sight.
There were only 6 of us in the boat and we were allowed to walk around a bit (though the boats are really pretty small) and take as many pictures as we liked. Our driver was so knowledgeable and talked to us about the history of not only the lagoon, but of Iceland as a whole. Again, I cannot recommend this tour highly enough. We were out on the water for just over an hour and it was truly magical. Because of the shifting tide, many of the icebergs had clumped together at the mouth of the lagoon and were making their way out under the bridge. We went over to the beach to check out the remains of the icebergs that had recently made it out. What a morning! It was so invigorating to be out on the water and see such beauty. It was unlike anything we’d ever seen or done before. Isn’t that the best part about travel? Being exposed to so many extraordinary sights and experiences. It’s one of the best feelings. It was about 11:30 when we hit the road again, this time heading west. Unfortunately, unless you take the ring road around the entirety of the island, there’s no way to get back west without retracing your steps. So we covered much of the same ground that we had the day before, but we didn’t really mind. It’s about the journey, not just the destination.
We were headed to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, located just south of the Western Fjords and north of Reykjavik. I got the idea to visit this area based on this blog and I am so happy we did. It was beautiful and desolate and really made us feel like we were in another world. I loved it. More hot dogs for lunch and playlists on the go. We ran into some rain on this day, but nothing terrible. The drive from Jökusárlón to the peninsula took about 7 hours, and that includes a couple breaks for stretching our legs and taking pictures of sheep and waterfalls. It sounds like a long time and it did feel long at some points, but it was totally doable and especially pleasant after we passed Reykjavik and began seeing new scenery. Once you get onto the peninsula you can take a surrounding ring road, Highway 54, or take some mountain passes to cut across. These are relatively short, maybe a 10 minute drive, but they are wonderful! Glacial lakes, hidden waterfalls, gloomy clouds–take the mountain pass. We stayed at The Old Post Office Guesthouse in Grundarfjörður, which is a fishing village situated on the north side of the peninsula. It was a nice little town with one hotel, one guesthouse, one restaurant, one grocery store, you get the idea. We stayed there mostly because it was one of the only towns with any availability, and while sharing a bathroom with four other rooms (dorm style!) isn’t our first choice, it ended up being a nice place to stay. The local restaurant, which is right across the street from the hotel, served really good food. We ate their both nights and tried meat stew, fish pasta, fish and chips, and one more thing I can’t recall. It was filled with locals and tourists alike and made for a nice place to wind down after a long day of travel. I’ll share the final part of the road trip, exploring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, later next week. If you’d like to see more of our trip to Iceland here are a few links: