It is now the end of another incredible day in Iceland! We got on a tour bus after breakfast this morning and drove down to the southern coast. Our first stop was at the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. It was absolutely gorgeous and a unique experience because there was a trail that allowed us to walk behind it! Essentially we made a full circle around the waterfall; we got rained on by the freezing water but it was really neat. We got back on the bus and headed further along highway 1 (the only highway that does a full loop around the island and in many places the only road you can take to get to another location) and next stopped at a small restaurant that sat at the base of a mountain. We got to eat outside in the crisp air which was really refreshing plus there was a really cute Icelandic dog that joined us for our meal :).
Our next stop was at the Eyjafjallajokull Museum, across from a famous farm located under a glacier and the volcano that erupted in 2010 causing major airport malfunctions all across the world. At the museum we watched a short documentary about the family’s story during the eruption. I hadn’t realized the true damage that the volcano had done to Iceland, it was unreal to see that the ash cloud left so much damage and destruction to the farms out on the countryside. It was interesting to learn that the biggest danger of an erupting volcano is actually flooding because the glaciers up on the mountains melt and flood down to the valleys. (I also learned that I was confusing glaciers with icebergs because I was picturing glaciers to be floating ice masses in the ocean but they are actually ice masses that fill in the valleys in between two mountains. When the glaciers melt, there is an entire new valley landscape visible. Who knew?). We got some great pictures of the now famous red roofed farm underneath the most recently erupting volcano in Iceland.
After the volcano stop, we went along to a huge glacier “tongue” called Solheimajokull. Our bus driver straight powered the coach bus through some off road terrain to get as close to the base of the glacier as possible. We walked a decent distance to the actual base but had a great view of the white and black ice mass. It reminded me of those sand bottles with the different color sand that you can turn upside down and it all mixes together, a really beautiful landform. I found it interesting to compare this southern coast landscape to the landscape on the Golden Circle tour, which was more inland, because they are so different from one another. There were tour groups actually ice climbing the glacier which must be an awesome excursion. If only we had the time!
We got back on highway 1 and headed to Reynishverfi beach. This is a black rock beach in a little cove area that has landforms off of the coast as the result of ancient hardened lava. The traditional folklore here talks about elves and trolls that associate with the area and our tour guide shared some funny stories with the group about those tales. I absolutely loved this stop, the ocean was so beautiful with the rock forms. I even grabbed a few tiny black pebbles as a souvenir :).
We made a pit stop in a small 300 person town (crazy small place with adorable houses!) and then made our last stop of the day at the Skogafos waterfall. This was easily my second favorite sight of the trip (my most favorite so far was the National park visit to the continent split on the Golden Circle tour no big deal). Anyways, this waterfall was absolutely breathtaking. We were able to walk right up to the base of it, some of the group even took the 450 step path to the top (I passed on that one haha). Legend has it that there is a pot of gold hidden behind the waterfall, which we could see was derived from the stunning double rainbow that was visible from the front! The colors here were so vivid and beautiful, there was the bright blue water with the green vegetation and the rainbow. It was the perfect combination of beauty and I absolutely loved it.
We then made the 2 hour bus ride back to Reykjavik. After some debate about going to a heated pool (a favorite pastime of Icelanders) Julie and I decided to just grab a nice dinner and relax. We met up with two friends and enjoyed a delicious lobster pasta and chocolate cake meal. No regrets! I am exhausted and its definitely time to get to bed. Tomorrow we have an exciting day at the University of Iceland! 🙂