As predicted, my hair was straw-like this morning from bathing in that geothermal waste water known as the Blue Lagoon, but at least I didn’t have to shower naked in public like I did last night. That was endlessly humiliating for my British sensibilities.
Though I would never describe myself as an outdoorsy person, I donned my hiking boots today for a day’s wandering around the beautiful coast of South Iceland.
Beginning our long ass drive at 10AM (we can’t seem to get out of the house earlier than that, because our geothermally heated house is too nice), we drove through lava fields, into fertile farmland, and past dramatic volcanoes. Our first stop was Seljalandsfoss, a chilly waterfall that the intrepid visitor can actually walk behind. My first concern, however, was finding a toilet – there aren’t enough in Iceland that don’t charge 200 ISK (£1.30). I think this is the main reason I can’t do hiking well – anxiety over toilets. Maybe I need one of those ‘shewees’ or something.
But I digress. View Exhibit A:
It was freezing, and my phone kept butt-dialling my contacts that begin with A, for some reason. That made for a lot of embarassing explaining.
It was good fun to clamber all up behind it, but I wouldn’t recommend it for the safety-conscious. There are no fences or signs to stop you from falling into the freezing water, a world away from the OTT health and safety back home. Plus my favourite jeans got all muddy!
Getting back into the car and driving on, we pulled off at a layby for a picnic, which was also an Eyjafjallajökull viewpoint. Yep, THAT Icelandic Volcano. The one that fucked up all that shit back in 2010, meaning no flights could go anywhere, costing global capitalism $5 billion. Icelandic volcano 1 – big airlines nil.
Iceland’s Notorious B.I.G.
It’s actually not even a big volcano – it’s small compared to its massive neighbour, Katla. But it’s the country’s newest tourist attraction, and within days of the eruption entrepreneurial Icelanders were running tours to it.
Continuing the drive along Route 1, our main destination was the black sand beach and its basalt columns. I’ve seen black sand before at Tenerife, so it wasn’t entirely alien, but in these cold climes it felt strange indeed. The beach also had basalt columns, like the ones in Northern Ireland, only much paler and sun-drenched.
Annoying couple tourists are annoying.
I also went in search of volcanic pumice stones, the only souvenir I can afford from this country, since I am dirt poor. All that Blue Lagoon volcanic health stuff was a ripoff – just rub mud on your face and scrub it off with a pumice stone. Bish bash bosh.
Last – but certainly not least – we stopped at the beautiful, wonderful Skogafoss. Not expecting much, as we’d already seen a waterfall earlier that day, we were greeted with the most incredible sight. The sun shone on the mist and produced a brilliant double rainbow. Yes, remember that 2010 meme? I saw one today and IT. WAS. AWESOME.
Yes, I am Jesus, and these other tourists are getting in the way of my miracle.
If you choose to, you can climb the 500 or so steps to the top of the fall, but I wouldn’t bother – it’s a much better view from down there. Since it’s glacier runoff, the water is crystal clear and chilly, but there are oodles of other irritating tourists putting camera tripods in it to spoil it all. I came to Iceland to get away from people, dammit!
Tonight, we head out into the cold for another bash at the Northern Lights. The forecast is looking really good tonight, so I can only hope that my dream will really come true this time. Fingers crossed!