Yes, this is indeed a continuation of my Iceland blogs. Yes, the ones that cover my adventure to Iceland, which I returned from two weeks ago and should probably already be finished talking about, but I’m not.
So read on, suckers!
I mean, please continue reading if you feel so inclined. By all means.
The next day we drove two hours south to a town called Vík, a.k.a. my new favorite place in the world where I could probably spend all of eternity. We had an appointment early that afternoon to go horseback riding on the black sand beach.
I’ll preface this by saying, I’m not really one for horses. I’ve only ever ridden a horse twice in my life, and that was a long time ago. The last time I rode a horse, I seem to recall it starting to gallup unexpectedly and then trying to chomp my foot off when I tried pulling the reins to make it stop. So basically I have this idea in my head that all horses are demons. Just look into their black soulless eyes for a minute and tell me it isn’t true.
We reached the stables, and after realizing the other couple of people that were supposed to be on our tour with us weren’t going to show up, we got started. They taught us the basics — all about maintaining a connection with the horse, the soulless demon that you would be mounting and riding for the next hour. We got to ride around on our own in the pen for probably less than five minutes before setting out.
I was riding second to last in our lineup. Everything was going fine. But we had barely been riding for five minutes when my friend’s horse behind me decides it wants to ride second to last and cuts us in line. Maybe my horse just didn’t like being in last place or something, but we immediately started lagging behind. Then, my horse turned around all together and started heading back home. Despite my best efforts (and because all horses are demons), I couldn’t get her (him?) to turn back around and join the group. Our guide had to leash me to her horse until my horse got with the program.
Balancing on a horse is weird. It takes more core strength than I remember. I thought I was going to fall off the whole time, especially when we forged a small stream. Really, though, I needn’t have worried considering we were about 2 feet off the ground:
The black sand beach in Vík is everything to me. You know how you can see a picture of a place and say, “Wow, that looks gorgeous,” but then you go there and discover that it’s not quite as beautiful as you thought it was? Vík wasn’t like that, and I could probably set up camp on that black sand beach, have my mail forwarded there, and I’d be all set. We even saw a wedding happening as we passed by, despite the rain and the cold. Wedding-goers and tourists alike took several pictures of us on our horses. Sometimes I wonder how many other people’s vacation pictures I am in.
After our horse-riding adventure, we stopped for food and set back out to explore the beach on our own. We were making our way to the foot of what I would learn later was the mountain Reynisfjall and the basalt sea stacks called Reynisdrangar. A local legend says these sea stack originated when two trolls got caught in the sun and were turned to needles of stone.
I took the most pictures here, because I was obviously obsessed.
I even did a photo shoot on a rock:
And I can I just mention how absolutely huge this mountain was? It’s so weird to stand at the foot of a mountain like this — to stand right at its base and just look up. It makes you feel small in a good way.
Sadly, the day had to come to an end and we had to get back before we were driving in absolute pitch darkness. But Vík is just one of those places I’ll probably think about for the rest of my life.
The next day was just, sort of, meh. That sounds terrible of me to say, but mostly the day was colored by exhaustion, homesickness, and too many tourists like us. Also really cold rain. We wanted to do the Golden Circle because I think you kind of have to when you go to Iceland. Plus, who doesn’t love some good waterfalls and geysers and pretty landscapes?
It was probably the coldest and the rainiest at our first destination: Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park, home of Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland and the site of Parliament’s formation in 930 A.D. You can also see the major fault lines that show the continental drift between the North American and Eurasion plates. At the information center, we basically took our pictures and got back into the car with numb faces and fingers.
However, we wanted to explore the fault lines more and find a waterfall we could see was nearby on our poorly illustrated map. We circled back the way we came and found another place with less people where we could climb down into the rocks and take a path leading to the waterfall. I wasn’t disappointed — it was much less windy down on this path, and there were also less people.
We made our way back to the car and headed to Gullfloss, a huge waterfall located in the canyon of the Olfusa river. Apparently there had been debate in the past whether or not to use Gullfloss to generate electricity, but it was later sold to the state and is now protected. Yay!
I do really love a good waterfall.
Then it was off to the geothermal area in Haukadalur, home of the geysers Geysir and Strokkur. Geysir is the the really big one, but has mostly been dormant for years. Strokkur, on the other hand, goes off every 10 minutes or so.
Honestly though, all these natural wonders are ruined by human beings. Here’s evidence:
Our last day in Iceland was mostly uneventful. We had to make our way back to Keflavík, probably the ugliest place in Iceland, so that one of my friends could catch her super early plane to Sweden the next morning.
We did, however, stop at the Blue Lagoon on our way there. And while we didn’t actually take a dip and experience all those wonderful skin benefits, we did take a look around. And it’s actually really cool looking.
I won’t bore you with the story of our travel back, which was long and mostly uneventful. On the plane I watched Sherlock, Downton Abbey, and then Arrested Development to cleanse my palette. At 1:30am I arrived home after being awake for 21 hours, and despite that, I was so so happy because I got to crash in my own bed.
I also freaking went to Iceland.