Wednesday, April 13, 2011

South Coast of Iceland

I took a two-day to the South Coast of Iceland, and if anyone is looking for somewhere to go around this time of year for just a short time, I'd highly recommend my journey! N & T and I took two days to travel from Reykjavík to Jokulsárlón and back, staying overnight in a 'Farm Holidays' residence near the famed glacial lagoon. Not too many tourists (yet, just wait until July, so I'm told) and the weather was intermittently horrible, but also sometimes intensely sunny and beautiful.

Our first stop was a new one for me, tipped off by another Fulbrighter. We stopped at Raufarhólshellir, a 1-km-long cave! It had several openings in the 'ceiling' where snow was piling in, and it was really rough going with lots of geometric collapsed rocks everywhere. But when we finally got to a point to go no further, the hike was well worth it- all of these ice formations greeted us with eerily stillness. The whole cave was dripping and melting, and you could even hear icicles crash and shatter from inside the cave.

I of course, was nerdy enough to bring a set of handbells, and T and I played them in amongst the icicles. It was an amazing experience. I recorded part of it- this is a section of the improvisation, without any other modifications- no audio tweaking or anything. I'm sure these sounds will get used for some other bigger work soon.

We stopped again by Seljalandsfoss, which never stops to be amazing that you can walk all the way around the waterfall.
I saw Svínafellsjökull for the first time, and was almost more impressed by these colors and patterns than at Jokulsárlón; the ground up sediment in the water in contrast with the milky blue of the glacier, slowly melting into this lagoon, is really incredible.

We stopped at Vík í Mýrdal and checked out the basalt cliffs and the beautiful coastline there. Man, Iceland loves its hexagons!

We ended up at Jokulsárlón, where the weather wasn't great but the glaciers were still amazing. We stayed at this farm-house converted into nearly a hotel, which was right on a 'beach'- more like a lake where a sandy embankment protected the coast from the pounding ocean waves.

A pretty amazing view for under US $30 a night! Though we did sleep in rooms next to fifteen 12-year-olds from France. They were surprisingly well-behaved. In the morning I had a breakfast as if I were a kid again, in a lion mug with some chocolate milk (and other healthy foods too, of course!)

The glacier views around Vatnajökull this time were much better- in September when I saw them last, there was so much rain and fog that I hardly saw anything! Now I could see all of the glacier 'fingers' coming down the mountain from the big parent glacier which takes up a good portion of Iceland's land on the south coast (and influences the weather for the country!). And, a rainbow.

We stopped at waterfall I had not seen yet, Skógafoss! Legend has it that there's treasure buried behind the waterfall, and someone managed to grab it once, but only could hold onto one ring off the chest. Now that ring is in a museum. I could believe the tale- It feels like you should be able to float through the mists and find a hidden cavern behind the falls.

Another peek at Vík on the way back, this time from a high-rising landmass called Dyrhólaey. The winds were intense up here but the views were incredible. It kind of felt like Aslan territory. That's a Narnia reference right there, yeah, I went there. The sun was shining on these huge ocean waves, all white and foamy, and they crashed on huge black rocks, and the winds could nearly blow you off your feet. It was the edge of the world.


Anonymous said...

The handbells are lovely--what a great idea and I look forward to hearing the compositions. Great photos!

Erin said...