Friday, July 12, 2013

Iceland Road Trip

I experienced the strongest wind I've ever felt when we visited Dyrhólaey, a peninsula on the south coast of Iceland that rises high above the water. We had to drive on a long narrow road surrounded by water on both sides to get there, and this is where the wind blew the hardest, unobstructed by land. I was afraid we'd be swept off the road like a leaf in our tiny car. Once we came to a stop on top of the cliff, the car rocked back and forth as if a giant was jogging with our car in his palm. We stepped outside and leaned into the wind to avoid being knocked over (literally), and walked to the coast to watch incredible waves crash onto a black volcanic sand beach. The contrast of the frothy white water against the black sand is so intense. At times it felt like I was looking through black and white glasses because there was no color in sight.

Just on our first day from Reykjavik to Vik, we saw Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls (and many more from the road... and many more in the days to come).

We arrived in a small village called Vík around sunset, and we knew we reached our final destination (for the day) because of the houses and churches dotting the hills. Less than 300 people live in Vík, but it is the biggest settlement for some 70km (43 mi). We found only 1 hostel and 1 hotel that was open, and went with the hotel because it had a restaurant (our only hope for dinner that night). The special on the menu that night was horse steak and the waiter did a fine job of convincing Yuriy, who had never tried horse meat, that it was marvelous.

In one short day, I experienced so many sights and places for the first time. It's hard to fall asleep after a day like this, because it feels like you're already dreaming.

- Julia

The icy stairs that lead to the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. 
The strongest wind we have ever felt was on a peninsula called Dyrhólaey. I don't know how our little car didn't get swept into the water.
The strength in the ocean was mesmerizing. 
Many houses were built into the hillside and completely isolated. They looked like they belonged in a fable, not in real life.
The main highway around the island was mostly empty, allowing us to stop just about anywhere for photos.
Yuriy trying his first Icelandic horse steak. 
I opted for lamb, an Icelandic staple. A good way to end a day of exploration. Columbus and Magellan didn't have it this good.