(Continued from Iceland Album - Part 1) At breakfast the next morning we had a discussion about what we could realistically see & do in the four days we had left. We decided to let go of visiting the Vatnajökull glacier (-jökull at the end of a word means glacier), planning instead on drives and hikes closer to Reykjavik. It was a huge relief to have a plan and - best of all - Airbnbs reserved for the rest of the trip. There’s something comforting about knowing you’ll have a place to call “home” at the end of the day.
With all of that finally settled, we decided to spend the day exploring Vik, starting with the sea. I’ve never seen a black sand beach before. It was surreal, as though an entire landscape had already been staged as a black and white photograph, with the exception of the iridescent green-hued cliffs (and the purply-blue lupines).
From the beach, we drove across the street and up the hill to the the iconic Reyniskirja church. Apparently there was hiking trail up the mountain that began at the far end of the parking lot.
The weather had turned sunny but it was still a little chilly when we set out. We climbed and climbed. I’m always such a bad judge of distance… everything looked closer than it actually was. (Or maybe it was the other way around.) I was the slowpoke of the bunch, stopping to photograph every few minutes, and Katherine, not big on walking, lagged behind with me. She and I would treat ourselves to a few chocolate Smarties — my European fave! — as a reward for making it to the next resting point. Ha! (Hey, you gotta stay motivated, right?)
When we got to the top we explored a little, but turned around and headed back down. The actual mountain peak was farther along the trail, but we hadn’t brought water. Or snacks.
Walking through the fields, I told the lupines how much I loved them.
After a picnic lunch back in town, we left Vik and headed west, stopping at Solheimajökull, one of the “tongues” of the Myrdalsjökull glacier. Myrdalsjökull is sitting on top of Katla, a volcano that’s due to start some serious grumbling in the coming decades. It was so interesting to stand there thinking that the whole landscape in front of us will wind up changing sooner rather than later.
It didn’t occur to me that the ice would be so dark and sooty, but, of course, Iceland is made of volcanoes, and so it makes sense. The parts of the ice that had cleaved revealed that perfectly magical glacial blue… its little inside secret.
Signs that read, “Don’t climb the glacier without a guide” were going unnoticed, and I’d read in a local paper that tourism has skyrocketed in Iceland with some consequences. Every year there are deaths, close calls, and expensive search-and-rescues. Trouble spots aren’t always roped off, or tourists seem to think they can ignore warning signs. Just around the corner from Vik, photographers out to “get the shot” of the Reynisfjara basalt columns have, on occasion, been swept out to sea. Iceland doesn’t mess around, so if you travel there, be mindful, Iceland’s wildness is what makes it so beautiful.