First time during Corona conditions actually travelling seemed feasible in late autumn ’21 – given a certain set of limited options. One of them: Iceland. An island in the arctic northern atlantic, aim of desire and a place were many people love to travel … and not everyone does, specially not during november.
Since I wanted to see the arctic north in the winter time, this seemes appropriate and we decided to go on short notice, unsure about our usual travel preparations.
I went online and googled for a nice looking gest house for a reasonable price. Flights were acceptable and even the rental cars did not bust the budget in November. So booking confirmed and then we started to make our mind about what we were up to. Playing covid restrictions safe we even tested at the airport to get a multi language certificate and the chance to escalate processing, when the result was not there in time.
Turned out that this was unnecessary and we got first on the plane and then in the country. The border patrol was quite reserved, until test result and vaccination certificate cleared and then all nice and friendly. And that was pretty much it, besides a mask every now and then in a supermarket.
Traveling late November had the disatvantage, that we, allthough flew in early, left the airport in merely daylight and when the rental car – a medium 4×4 – was packed left the premise in entire darkness. The first fourty minutes driving between Kevlavik and arround Reykiavik were urban style with a traffic and city lights and we even managed to visit our first Kronan supermarket to stock grosseries for the better part of a week.
Leaving Reykiavik behind we drove two hours through mere darkness, passing by a village every now and then – and it was merely five in the afternoon. I did not pay too much attention on the distance to the booked guesthouse, but it turned out to be at an F-road – which are the loose graveled roads iceland has and which are classified in accessible, 4×4 accessible and only very large 4×4 accessible. Anyway it was only ten minutes of at the ringroad and at the Seljalandsfoss corner – we got even our first icelandic waterfall at night.
Winter close to the polar circle means chasing daylight all the time, and that was, what we did for the rest of this week. Anyway found the guest house, which was part of a large farm and with actually a nice pantry and wintergarden for your cooking and dining – and were breakfast was served. The very superficial selection lead us to Stora Mörk III farmehous, and I would always return to nice people and the cosy place.
Anyway we got a nice impression from the iluminated guest house and sat in the wintergarden having breakfast and waited to the sun to rise – and OMG what a landscape raised in front of us – giving a first glimpse of what “daylight chasing” would have to offer possibly two times a day. At least as long as it’s not raining.
So long story short, it turned out that there is enough to see arround. A week for iceland is by far too short and that close to Reykiavik and the golden circle you have enough to explore. Startink with the famous Skogafoss, which turned out to be nearly next door as well.
The one thing that really took some driving and a really early start was diamond beach and the glacier lagoon at Jökulsarlon. Starting extra early gave another impressive lightshow, even after driving a hour through darkness…
Just to add another hour through flat sands and along some of the more impressive volcanos. Anyway you slowly approach Vatnajökul, europes largest glacier and you see the kilometer high iceflanks droping to sealevel already a hour ahead – and then you still have to drive another 40 minutes along the shoreline to come to the spot.
But there they are … the first icebergs in my life. And thousands of molten ice sculptures on the black sand beaches. Definitely one of the three most wierd places I have been on earth. Unfortunately a little bit touristy, but -14 degrees celsius (including windchill from the glacier) kept them right at bay.
The drive back to Reykiavik, already acclimatized and with a day to spare was then arranged along the previously mentioned golden circle and with basically three major stops.
First at Gullfoss, probably the most touristy spot we visited the whole trip. Had to wait a hour to have at least the sun rise a bit over the ridges to give some shady daylight down the gorge. But the visitorcenter is very cosy and spacy these days.
Really next door then is Geysir. Not any Geyser – but the original stuff. This was the thing that sponsored the phenomenon the name.
Geysir itself is first of all a village. The first thermal hot spring, then was named after that. The one pictured here is actually Strokkur since the great Geysir fell dormant and activity shifted 100 meters up hill. Feels a bit sad. On the other hand, strolling through an area where your average creek is good to boil eggs and all the springs are hot and bubbely is an experience on its own.
Even a bit spooky with the steam in the chilly air and the low standing sun.
A bit further down the golden ring you pass through Thingvellir national park. Another place that couldn’t be more special.
Here you literally jump from Europe to America and back … at least if you haven’t to cross the creek. This is rift valley, where the two continental plates drift appart. It actually crosses entire Iceland but this is one of the more spectacular places. It’s so magical, that the first wiking settlers here hold their “thing” which was their tribe assembly, and they founded the first parliament in the contemporary meeting in 930.
So besides the hostoric ground you may walk literally on the mid atlantic ridge … a fascinating idea.
Probably a spot were you can spend much more time.
And to wrap it all up – you can go to Iceland unprepared and spontaneous and it will not disappoint you. There are so many wonders to see, that you stumble over them all over the place. So nothing wrong. And even then a week is by far too short.
If one thing is sure, that is that I will return even in winter again, but probably something more marchich – more snow, but longer days. Since the land of fire and ice shows all its beauty and I have so much not yet seen. No Puffins, no ice caves, Volcanoes in too safe a distance, the planwreck …
In that sense, Kyp with a last picture, F.
Gunnuhver Hot Spring, close to the largest geothermal power plant on earth. Here temparature reaches 300 degrees Celsius at the top soil.
The spot is nammed after the poor cursed Gunna, which was badly treated by her landlord and her only posession, a copper pot, was taken away from her. She went mad and died over this loss and from her coffin the sentence “don’t dig deep, I won’t lay long” was heard. Not long after the funeral the landlord was found slaughtered on a field. Days later his wife. The villagers asked for advice with the local priest who somehow seemed competent in witchcraft as well. He recommended to give her the end of a wool thread and roll the ball to a place were she could not do harm. Said, done and the ball rolled into that spring, where poor Gunna stays till today.