VIK, ICELAND | DAY #3 The grey sky is never a limit to fully appreciate the beauty of Iceland because it makes everything typically melancholy. We jump in the car, we stop on Dyrhólaey headland to see the country’s largest lighthouse, around it the rocks overlook the beach as the water bathes it. We are fortunate to see some groups of Puffins perched between the rocks. They are smaller than we imagined but are wonderful.
In the distance we see Vik, its famous beach and its colossal stacks. The small village of Vìk is animated by a gas station, a restaurant, a tiny agglomeration of houses and a red roofed white church overlooking the town. But the real show, as always, is nature. And Vìk is worth a stop to appreciate the many peculiarities. The long black beach creates strong contrast with the off-white Ocean. We walk on the sand and enter the spaces formed around the lava rocks. We look at a nutritious group of Arctic Sterna looking for food among the sand grains. They immediately starts screaming out loud to our presence, so disturbed by their insistence, we decide to let them hunt freely and to return to the car.
A little further away there is another beautiful beach, the famous Reynisfjara, characterised by dark grey pebbles and beautiful basalt caverns as a prestigious fabric of geometric fantasy and similar to pipe organ. Finally, in front of us, the beautiful legendary sea-stacks that, according to local folklore, are petrified “Trolls” victims of the sun. Meanwhile the sky darkens and a slight mist begins to rise from the water. The landscape becomes more and more mystical. The colours outline a natural landscape of a surprising black and white. Wrapped in our Quechua vests we watch the show in front of us.
Returning to the Hostel, the kitchen is attended by tourists from all over the world, we cook pasta, a couple of Indians enjoy curry-flavoured rice, Austrians warm-up speck, while Americans cook chicken. This is also part of the adventure.
SKAFTAFELL | DAY #4 Immediately after the shower and breakfast we head towards the Skaftafell National Park, a destination for tourists and the second biggest park of the island. The clear, cloudless sky and the hot sun will accompany us all day so it will be easy to stroll along the sandy path that drives us to the foot of the small Skaftafelljokull glacier. The wind that melted the noon sun heat, suddenly became intensified, so the idea of eating our sandwiches sitting on the shore of the lake – formed by the glacier melting – does not seem so genial. But now we have become true hikers and nobody stops us anymore. When you reach the camping area, take a 45-minute walk uphill to the small and elegant Svartifoss waterfall. This waterfall hidden in the heart of the mountain, in a lush vegetation, is famous for the pitch coloured basalt columns surrounding it. We sit down on the rocks, listen to the birds singing and observe the rainbow that forms over the stream. Though not recommended, we do not resist and put our hands into the cold water.
Our adventure today is only halfway and so we go downhill to fill our bottles of local fresh water. Then we go for the second glacier today. The Glacier Vatnajokull is wider and spectacular than the rocks, the ice-tongue of the mountain descends to the valley to become a lake where small icebergs float. Its surface is striped like a zebra, it is shaped by the wind and sparks in the sun in its white splendour. We are just us and another couple in the company of Vatnajokull. We cautiously climb into the highest rock where we enjoy the view of the landscape. Sitting in front of a glacier in the northern Europe’s island with the perfect temperature, knowing that the most daring vacation of my life is a dream come true.
The late afternoon knocks on our marching table and just when we thought we had seen the best of the local naturalistic spectacle, comes the time to stop for sunset at the much-anticipated Ice Lagoon. Guides and lonely travellers strongly recommend watching the Jokulsarlon on the evening when the atmosphere becomes enchanted. Behind the high sand and rock dunes spread out the most beautiful landscape we have ever seen. Big Icebergs float melting in the vast lagoon with the thousands of shades of blue, the seagulls swirling against the sun and some seals peek out of the water to observe us, the enthusiastic tourists.
In an elegant calm of daylight the largest icebergs melt down into the water and crack like firewood, creating slight landslides in the lagoon, while the smaller ones go slowly down to the Atlantic Ocean. We would like to stay here to watch this landscape while it gets darker but there is another sunset waiting for us.
The small port town of Hofn, which overlooks the Hrivngvegur and has little more than 2000 inhabitants, will be our last stop of the day. We will sleep here in a guest house not far from the characteristic coloured houses that look over the harbour and look out over the mountains. The sunset is already fading in orange and violet tones. It feels like we are visiting the Icelandic version of Dawson’s Creek. Silence reigns, and even a typical red cat is able to rest “uncomfortably” perched on a rock.
The seemingly deserted houses have colourful fences and folkloristic gardens with small reproductions of typical grass houses, trolls and other nautical features. Although little Hofn is delightful and well worth a relaxing moment to observe the ocean.
The journey continues…
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