Saturday, October 15, 2016

Iceland road trip - day 4

Saturday 17 September 2016 

The aurora forecast for the previous night had said 'moderate' so I was up to my usual antics of keeping an alarm to wake me up every two hours. Even Xena knew the routine of her crazy mama by now, which is why neither she nor Viv would wake up when the alarm rang. I'd wake up, snooze the alarm for two hours later, peep out of the window, see nothing and go back to sleep. The Lights didn't make an appearance that night either. Oh elusive aurora, would we be blessed with your darshan at all? 

This was the view from our window. We were literally among the rocks. 

And there was this little cottage behind ours with the words 'Hamar Inn'! Click to see a bigger version if you don't believe me! No, there was no Bihari living there. 'Hamar' in Icelandic means 'stone'. 

Our Singaporean flatmate kept his word and actually came to our room to deliver Xena's pancakes! I was thrilled that for once, she'd eat something. And eat she did. Which is why I told Viv that we needed to get our hands on a pancake mix at the next supermarket so at least I could make a filling breakfast for her each morning. Most of our accommodation was homestays or airbnb apartments so using the kitchen was not an issue. 

There was this weird poster called 'Tomorrow's India' in our room. 

We got ready, said goodbye to our host and his dog and our kind Singaporean flatmate, and set off to chase more glaciers! Viv picked up some more food from the nearby supermarket. I was very surprised to see how tandoori chicken sandwiches were readily available everywhere, considering the lack of any other Indian influence we saw in Iceland. 

Moss-covered rocks along the way

No surprise -- it started raining very very heavily as soon as we set off! We saw several high but narrow waterfalls on the way, but didn't get out because of the rain. It surprised me to see how nonchalantly the sheep and horses kept grazing away in the heavy rain. 

But I had to admit that we had gotten really lucky with the rain. If we'd had this kind of heavy rain in the last two days, we'd pretty much be just driving around without getting out anywhere! But then there's a saying in Iceland - "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing." 

It was still raining by the time we got to Svartifoss waterfall, so we decided not to do the 1.8-km uphill hike to get close to it. Luckily, we'd had some spectacular waterfall experiences before, so it didn't feel too disappointing to just drive past the waterfall with only a photograph. 

The Svartifoss waterfall is also known as the 'Black Falls' due to the dark lava columns that surround it. 

The rain thwarted our plans to go to Fjallsárlón glacial lagoon, created from thVatnajökull glacier. You can see pieces of icebergs that have broken off, drifting around in the lagoon. You can also take a boat ride to get really close to the icebergs, but Xena didn't meet the the minimum age for it.

The heavy rain meant that Xena and I stayed in the car, while Viv dashed out to take a quick look and some quick photos on his phone. (There was no way the DSLR was coming out in that kind of rain!)

So we decided to move on and try our luck with Jökulsárlón, another glacial lagoon stemming from thVatnajökull glacier. Boat rides were also on offer there, but since Xena was not eligible, we couldn't go on them. However, I was hopeful because I'd read on Tripadvisor that the lagoon was really close to the parking lot and iceberglets were easily visible. Of course, I was sceptical about how close they'd be to the carpark if boat rides were what the tourists preferred. 

However, as our car neared the parking lot, my mind was blown away. Right there, within a few metres, were stunning blue iceberglets (baby icebergs, of course; what did you think?) floating in the lagoon. I was so excited I forgot to put on my hat, coat or raincoat. I just grabbed the DSLR (and an umbrella, of course!) and dashed out, leaving Xena and Viv to laugh at me as they took the more patient route and got dressed into their warm coats and raincoats before disembarking. 

This picture should give you an idea about why I got so crazy excited! I was standing at near-touching distance of these heavenly-looking blue iceberglets!

I took tons of photos of the iceberglets. One of the pieces actually looked like a seal, a beautiful blue seal. 

Jökulsárlón has been the location of many films such as Die Another Day, Lara Croft, Batman Begins, as well as the reality TV show Amazing Race. 

Viv and Xena pose with the iceberglets. 

The iceberglets looked like different animals and objects...

...and I actually spotted one that looked like a sea lion!

I kid you not!

Even after we got back into the car, I was so jumpy and excited about what we had just seen. It was really an out-of-the-world experience!

We got back on the road, back to our usual mountains and valleys and fields and sheep. 

The Heinabergsjökull glacier was next on our agenda, but getting there was treacherous. It involved an 8-km gravel path with barely any signs about anything. Every few minutes, we would wonder if we should just turn back. But we kept going in the hope of seeing a stunning glacier. After a looooong looooong time, we finally saw another car. Phew! An elderly couple in the car told us that the glacier was still 4 km away and that the view wasn't that clear. So we made a call. We had come halfway and decided to carry on and finish what we'd started. "The view had better be worth it", Viv said. Well, guess what? It wasn't. As the man had said, it was too foggy for us to see ANYTHING properly. Viv did another one of his mad dashes to get some quick photos of whatever he could see. 

...which was this. Yup, totally not worth it. 

There was literally no one there, and definitely no visitor centre as I'd read somewhere. We only saw a tiny toilet, which I refused to go into. Viv's bladder was not that stubborn so he went. And when he came back, he told us that it was a waterless toilet. WHAT. What on earth was a waterless toilet??? I was horrified. He said that there was a container full of wood chips and a shovel and you were just supposed to cover up your deeds using the wood chips. OH.EM.GEE. I was sure glad Xena and I didn't go in. And that I had taken along tons of sanitiser.

More sheep spotted on the way back from Heinabergsjökull. Check out how they posed for us!

When you're on a long road trip, it's highly advisable to switch drivers. 

Okay, I was kidding. The car was stationary, so Viv let Xena 'have a go'. This is her, making 'car sounds' as she wildly swings the steering wheel. 

"Mama! Daddy let me drive!" 

Our home for the night was this adorable little place 'House on the hill' in the fishing town of Hofn. It had beautiful surroundings, super clean rooms and did I mention sensor-operated corridor lights? Our hostess told us that Hofn was a really tiny place and the only things to do were a walk along a tiny beach next to the harbour or the heated swimming pool. It was still raining, so we decided to stay in and let Xena complete her nap which she had partially taken along the way. Around 6 pm or so, we headed out for dinner to Hafnarbudin, which was a 3-minute drive away.

I had the famous lobster sandwich, which was amazing. Viv had something. I have no recollection of that. I was THAT engrossed in my lobster. Also, the presence of Coke in glass bottles had me totally distracted. 

My precioussssss.....

When I asked Viv if he wanted to share the Coke with me, he flatly said no. I was really surprised, was he being calorie-conscious, or just trying to make feel bad? 

"How come?" I asked him. 

"Because I'm going to have a beer, of course!"

Of course. LOL!

Viv and Xena posing with Gull, an Icelandic beer

Finally, we called it a day. We were quite exhausted and I was prepping for another night of the alarm going off every two hours. The forecast still said 'moderate', but what is the heart without hope?



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