Iceland – Great South Iceland

So our plan is this.

We are going to head down south, because that is pretty much where all the cool kids go.

The entire south coast is littered with waterfalls, black sand beaches, natural lagoons, bulk mountains, and a plane wreck.

We decide to spend two days down this way to make sure we get to experience it as best we can. We drop the key into the neighbour, so he can look after the dog for the night, and off we go.

We head out at around 12:30 pm.

I mean, we didn’t get home till 4am, and I was driving the whole time, and then since, I was peaking after being awake for so long, I used the initiative of being a fully grown adult, and decided to stay up another two hours and edit photos, talk to mates back in Aus and stuff.

Idiot.

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Nonetheless, we slept for a very, very long time, and it was worthwhile investment of time. We get out of the house and head straight for out first waterfall. Even though Iceland is littered with waterfalls (10,000, supposedly), we are headed to our first waterfall worth mentioning. I mean, we have seen a few, but not really any that are worthwhile making a mention for, to be honest.

We have already done the Reykjavik to Selfoss stint from the other day in the Golden Circle, so this time, we just power through. We are a little behind in sleep from spending the morning recovering from the night of northern light hunting, so we don’t spend the luxury of time on things that are unnecessary. We arrive at Seljalandsfoss (good luck pronouncing that one p.s… the ‘a’ in Icelandic is pronounced as ‘ough’*), which is a waterfall that I have seen pop up along my new feed on facebook multiple times. Its not as common as the likes of Skogafoss, or anything like that, but it still makes the rounds.

We endure the tourist-inflicted roads.

There are bulk tourists.

I mean, bulk tourists.

So much so, that the snow that fell throughout the course of the night was just turned into slush. Remember yesterday how I was saying that the thick layer of ice was an issue for us when we went up north and were susceptible to the winds that wanted to climb the mountainside, but needed to get through us first? The ice was nothing compared to the slush that the immense amount of hired cars made from the snowfall from the night earlier.

The speed limit is 90 kilometres per hour, but as per usual, in ever other nation other than Australia so far, nobody cares, and usually cruises at 110/kmh instead.

Just like Canada.

Australia needs to chill the hell out. Even on icy roads, people are clocking another 20 clicks above the limit. Settle down with the whole ‘drop 5, save lives’ campaign Australia. The rest of the world is getting along just fine.

Even with snow…

…and winds…

…and bulk cars…

…on the wrong side of the road…

We good bro.

Long story short, the roads are insanely slippery, I would take the ice over the sludgey road any day of the week. We passed a couple who had found themselves in a ditch on the side of the road due to the same reasons we had avoided. Being that we have got car insurance from our travel insurance, we chose not to take out insurance for the car when we hired it. The only issue is that it only covered up to $5000 AUD. This mean that if the car needed any repairs, we would be liable for some of the money also.

Any repairs that needed to be done in Iceland were never going to fit within the $5000 mark. Our insurance, instead of an agreement, became logic, and very careful driving, which included only ripping skiddies in open carparks (which, since I was driving, we 100% did).

We arrive at Sellfoss, and there is enough of a wind to up-end at least 16% of the unprepared tourists and their ugg boots at the attraction. The water seems to be spread into a fine mist as the wind passes through the impact zone of the water. It doesn’t really reach us, even as we are only around 20m away. In relative terms, 20m is pretty close to this waterfall. We stop for a quick tripod-seflie, and hold up all the other passer-bys in the process.

They’re polite enough about it.

They know how it feels to want to get a decent selfie, and have people interrupt it.

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1st world tourist problems.

#travelproblems

#amirite?…

We get out shot, and start walking up the steps to walk behind the falls. We have been given these strap on crampons from Valdimar and Sara, so we hook them onto our feet, meanwhile everyone else in their volleys and nike kicks do a fine job of learning to walk again. Their companions cheer them on as they stabilise themselves after a slight slippery skate toward hypothermia at the bottom of a winter waterfall. To be honest, its pretty much like watching a 5 month old learn to walk again.

We shake our heads in judgement.

These are full grown adults. I mean, we’ve never been to Iceland before, but friggin hell… We can put two and two together, and work out that mist and snow-like temperatures equals ice.

A lot of ice.

Natural selection, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.

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We marvel at the equal levels of stupidity and enormity of the icicles that hang from the railings of the stairs to the icy viewing area of the waterfall. But! This isn’t the cool bit. The cool bit is that there is another waterfall another 500m up the road that isn’t so visited, but is hidden behind a rock wall. You have to access it via a gap in the wall, or you can view it from above.

Being that it is winter in Iceland, we opt not to climb up the rock and view it from above.

Being that it is winter in Iceland, we opt not to wade through the water to reach the foot of the waterfall.

We are happy with drinking the freshest of fresh water that flows right at our feet instead. This is grand. Fresh water cannot ever really be beaten. Its as fresh as it feels amazing. We head back into the car, and mish it down to the next falls, which are not that far away. The way we feel about it, however, is that there are going to be bulk tourists and we have already seen two cool waterfalls. We don’t feel the need to stop and check it out properly.

Bearing in mind too, that we kicked the day off late.

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Also, an irrelevant fact was that I was on the phone to Jesica and Ellen for a long time discussing business, so that chewed up a bit of the day… Pretty much, the day was getting on, and we needed to start being more selective about where we were investing our time for the rest of the day.

We stopped, only for a photo and moved on.

We wanted to reach the glacier.

So to give you context, we went to NZ with Bec’s side of the family, and we went on a tour to check out Franz Josef Glacier. As we were walking with the guide, I ask him, “So can we walk on the Glacier?”, to which he replied “Ha! Yeah right…”

Dick.

This time, there were no tour guides, and everyone who was walking back from the glacier were talking about touching and/or walking on the glacier. I felt this time, that NZ was going to be redeemed.

I was right.

We walk down, and the only kind of directions we got were from some Italian bloke or something, who told us to go down this hill, instead of the path we were on. He seemed like the kinda bloke who would stitch you up just for a laugh, but against my better judgement, I decided to follow his instructions.

He wasn’t a complete tosser, much to my surprise, and in fact gave us the right tip off. 10 mins later, we are at the foot of the Glacier. We didn’t get anywhere near this in NZ. I feel as though Iceland allows it’s tourists and residents the freedom to use the thing that not many other nations permit their residents. That thing is called common sense.

If it’s snowy, don’t speed.

If it’s icy, don’t climb it.

The only warning sign before the glacier pretty much in summary said, “Please get a guide, if you feel like it”. Luckily for my back pocket, I didn’t feel like it, and it was getting dark, so we were 2 of the last 6 people to make our way to see the glacier. Every one else was leaving. We were just arriving. We didn’t mind. Luckily, we had packed a torch, so we were pretty much set.

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We get there, and I pretty much just momentarily climb on it to say that I’ve climbed it. It is extraordinary, and you can hear the ice popping and cracking as the mammoth piece of ice slowly inches it’s way closer and closer to the valley. It truly is remarkable. We get close enough to it, and see that there aren’t layers to the ice like you would find with rocks that have taken years upon years to fuse(?) together. It is just one huge chunk of ice, and you can see straight through it. Admittedly, this bit that I am looking at is pretty thin in relative terms to the rest of the glacier, but it is still decent.

The glacier is just a rich deep turquoise, only broken up by deeper shades of blue to contrast against the black volcanic landscape that surrounds it. Its amazing. What is more amazing, is being this close to it. We get our fill of the glacier and make our way back to the car, helping the last two couples who all struggle to battle their footing and see where they are going with the evening light fading rapidly.

Our last destination is the Solheimasandur Plane Crash site.

It is one of the quintessential photography sites to see while you are in Iceland.

I like photography.

I am in Iceland.

I will fulfil my duty as a tourist, and walk the 45 mins to reach the crash site in the rain… with more layers than were necessary… sweating… in the dark… running… with my camera gear getting wet.

…because photo.

10/10 worth it tho.

We get there, set up the tripod and start light painting. Bec is pretty much running the show this time, and I have just got the torch and following her command, adding more each shot that isn’t satisfactory. I thought there was going to be enough ambient light to be able to pull something from a 30 sec exposure, but alas, the evening was darker, and the cloud cover thicker than we had expected.

We got the shot we wanted, and I could hear the panic in Bec’s voice. The rain was setting in more and more, and it was only going to get heavier. My bag was soaked and the only thing we had to protect the rest of the gear was my semi-rain proof jacket, which we would hold over the camera to stop it getting really badly wet. By this point, it was already pretty bad. Im just hoping that the water doesn’t seep anywhere and cause fungus in the lens. That would be really less than ideal.

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I climb aboard the plane for the final shot that I have in mind, and the 3, 30second shots that we take seem to last an eternity.

As every good photograph though, it was totally worth it.

We packed up our wet gear, and walked back to the car, which seemed to take forever, and then some. We finally got back in, and ran the car to heat up our external bodies, while our soup warmed us up internally.

We had pretty much seen everything we wanted to see, so we headed home.

We weren’t sure if the neighbour was still going to be awake, so we decided that since we had the sleeping bags, we would sleep in the car if the lights were off.

The lights were on.

We went to bed.

We slept.

It was late again.

 

Come back tomorrow,

Billy

 

* its not really pronounced as ‘ough’

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is playing in the background as I recollect my day. You should listen to it. If you dig it, you should check out ‘Cleopatra’ and ‘Sleep On The Floor’. All three songs are intertwined. Check it out, if its your deal.

 

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