Denise Goldberg's blog

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Geysir, waterfalls, and then...

It was another very full day today, with mostly dry skies until after four when the skies opened up. Remember when I said I decided to travel counterclockwise yesterday to allow myself another dry day? It was the right thing to do; it's been raining hard here in Vik all day. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow.

I was sitting in the breakfast room this morning when I noticed some beautiful watercolors and oils on the walls. I asked about the setting, and discovered the inspiration came from the coast in Eyrarbakki, a small village just 11 kilometers down the road. Ah, that changed my plans a little; I needed to go there. A short drive, and it was time to wander by the sea. The tide was out. As with other coastal visits I'd really like to see it at high tide too. Maybe on the way back, maybe on my next trip to Iceland. There were pools of water, sculpted sand (below the high water line), sea weed, crashing waves further out. The sky was gray at first, but blue appeared for a while.

I was fascinated by a sign in one spot along the shore. It was the southernmost point in Iceland, and if you follow the longitude line straight south the next land that jumps out of the ocean is in Antarctica.

I tore myself away from the Atlantic Ocean and headed for Geysir and Gullfoss. Both are popular tourist destinations on a route known as the Golden Circle. Sometimes wandering on tourist tracks makes sense, and today was one of those times.

My first stop on this route was Kerið, a volcanic crater lake showing wonderful colors on the sides of the crater, browns and reds decorated by bright green moss.

Geysir is the home of Strokkur, a geyser that very nicely erupts every 4 to 8 minutes. I stood there for a bit, waiting, watching the movement of the water in the pool, and then, eruption! The eruption brings Yellowstone to mind, yet the steam also reminds me of the steam vents in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Gullfoss was not much further up the road, a thundering waterfall in multiple levels. As I drove closer, the windshield was speckled with water - not rain, but water flying from the falls. It is possible to walk close to the falls, oh so wet! After tucking my cameras away I moved a little closer. Then I realized there were stairs leading to a higher view, one that allowed me to stand without taking an unintended shower. I won't say that I was standing still; I was again at the mercy of the very strong wind.

When I finally tore myself away from the waterfall, I headed back to the Ring Road to continue to the east. Driving, looking around, driving... I saw a pair of thin waterfalls dropping from a cliff. At first I thought it was just a driving by view. Then I thought I saw people and cars. A bit further I saw a road leading to the left. Yes, I followed it, I stopped, and walked. It was possible to walk behind this fall. I didn't because I wasn't prepared to be soaked; the temperature was cool enough that getting wet wasn't too appealing. If it's a nice day when I drive by on Friday, maybe I'll stop again.

Just after that stop the rain came in earnest. I wanted to stop to enjoy the high mountains lined in bright green ground cover, the black of volcanic soil, the streams running quickly beneath the bridges. I didn't. The water came in torrents. Those last 50 kilometers seemed to take forever! At times I imagined I must have missed my destination. Vik is small, but not that small. No, I didn't miss it.

I'm staying at the hostel in Vik tonight. No private rooms here, but I did score a bottom bunk. I can just see myself forgetting I'm in a top bunk for a middle-of-the-night bathroom run. That would be a really bad thing, so I'm happy to be able to touch the floor without climbing down.

Interesting. Two women just walked in and asked about tomorrow's forcast. I was just looking at the Iceland Met Office forecast, and someone else said that the forecasts from Norway are generally closer to correct. Here's the Vik forecast on (the Norwegian meteorological center) if you're interested. I hope that both sites are correct since they show a combination of light rain and clouds as opposed to downpours. I can hope, can't I?