Sunday, September 14, 2008


As we drove along we weaved around green hillsides filled with sheep grazing dangerously close the edges, large glacier covered mountains, and finally to our intended destination - the black sand beaches. We were also surprised how close the Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Isles) appeared from the coast.

When we arrived in Dyrhólahverfi (Vestur-Skaftafells), a bird watcher's paradise, we took our trusty little rental car on some extremely bumpy roads. I still have no idea how Stefan managed to get this thing to the top, but the views there are really striking.

We stood on top of the 120 m headland for quite a while. There is a beautiful arch, which is naturally made, and really demonstrates the strength and beauty of nature.

Also in view from the headland are Reynisdrangur Sea Stacks, which are basalt formations. If that wasn't enough, directly behind us we could see Mýrdalsjokull Glacier. Inside the Mýrdalsjokull Glacier is the Katla Volcano, which erupts on average every 40-60 years. The last eruption was in 1918.

Surrounding the shore line down below are the Mýrdalssandur Sands - the black sands that I was so excited to see. The contrasting colors in the landscape made me stand in awe.

We drove down to some of the beaches, and walked along the shore. It was very quiet except for the sound of the crashing waves. The shoreline had smooth pumice stones, fine black sand, and beautiful craggy caves and columnar basalt.

Stefan saved the day by finding my sunglasses in the tide. They must have fallen out of my pocket as I was running to join one of our self timed photos. Coincidentally, they were a replica of the sunglasses I lost in Barcelona. He asked if I always want to leave something behind in the places that I love. I am so happy he found them.

After taking all of the scenery in we drove to Vík í Mýrdal, which is so very tiny. I think Dyrhólahverfi takes most of the credit for beauty in this area.

Iceland had yet one more treasure in store insuring that it would leave us with something to remember - another stunning sunset for our last evening. The entire drive back to Reykjavik was draped in pinks and purples.

A common theme of this trip is probably complete bewilderment. I know that nature is extremely incredible, however I've not been somewhere that so much is packed into one small place.

If that's not reason enough to have fallen in love with Iceland in the book I was recently reading (Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner). His book has piqued my interest in Bhutan, but what he has to say about Iceland is very interesting as well. In his chapter title, 'Happiness is Failure', he suggests that Iceland has so many people involved with the arts because it doesn't see failure as a bad thing.

It goes along the lines of my ceramics teacher that I have written about before. You make a lot of junk before you really make impressive things. In Iceland, that's OK and even encouraged. I think it's a combination of the natural beauty and the 'live and let live' carefree attitude that easily makes this one of my favorite countries. It probably also helped that we visited on a cusp season - day light hours were still reasonable long, and there weren't tons of tourists, but even so, I think Iceland has a permanent calmness about it.

I also love that it has a blank slate feeling to it. The people don't seem to be in a major hurry to change that, which is so nice. They choose to live with nature and preserve what a beautiful country they have.

There are plenty of things we didn't do during this trip - see Puffins, visit Vestmannaeyjar, go to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, visit the Kerið crater, see the aurora borealis, and I am sure many of other things I don't even know about yet.

I will definitely make it back to Iceland. It has so much beauty it just moves me to tears. What an amazing world!


JoernandAllison said...

Wow, I am going through a little sadness too, knowing that the trip has come to an end. It must have been nice to blog about it afterwards, kind of a way to reflect on it all, bit by bit.
The black sand beaches look absolutely breathtaking, and the rock formations surely give you a view of the sheer power of nature.
What a trip! This was not an ordinary one, not like any trip is ordinary, but this was extraordinary. I am so happy for you and Stefan that you had such a wonderful experience!

Anonymous said...

The black sand beaches are so so beautiful! Some of your pictures look other worldly! I've really enjoyed all of these Iceland posts, thank you for posting them!

You should submit your pictures to their tourism've convinced me to go!

Emily said...

The whole trip definitely surprised me with how awesome nature truly is. I'm glad you enjoyed it! It's a nice little place where I can journal about things and add pictures to it too.

I don't know if my pictures are that good, but thank you! I'm sure you won't regret going - I can't wait to see your pictures and hear your impression of it all.