It's the night before the night before we fly & I'm seriously considering packing as , at 9am tomorrow we're setting off for a steady journey to Heathrow & our hotel for the evening ! 10:30 pm see's the suitcase almost packed , just need to clean the camera & pack the camera bag , midnight arrives & everything is finally cleaned & packed . 8 months in the planning & it's here...Iceland 2016 ,5 friends & even our own tour t-shirts. 7am Thursday morning , skype is going wild & I fall out of bed. Finish packing the last of the electricals in the carry on bag , sort a few bits around the house & right on time Andy arrives , giddy as a school kid in a sweet shop. Car loaded, house locked & we're off. The journey down is uneventful excepting a couple of torrential downpours which saw the road flooded & slowed us to crawling pace and a junction closed by the police resulting in a detour of 10 mins. Dean & Jo arrived at the hotel approx 30 mins after us , we picked Marsha up from Heathrow teminal 5 around 18:45 then spent a pleasant evening in the local Indian restaurant chatting , relaxing & sorting the last minute details of the trip.Back in the hotel , a hot & very welcome shower , alarms set for 04:45 lights out & sleep....or maybe not !
Everyone's awake a half hour before the alarms go off, flurry of activity , cars loaded & we head to the pre booked parking on time , & encounter the 1st issue.......no spaces ! Rather miffed I visit reception & get directed to a little man in a hut at the entrance who promptly points me at a space on the side of the road.......I foresee damage to the car on return so fold door mirrors in & take photos as a precaution. Not the parking I had in mind at £50. We join the queue & board the Hoppa , arriving later than planned at the airport so head straight to bagdrop . Feels weird not having paper boarding passes ! Marsha , Jo & dean & myself get straight through , Andy manages to get delayed due to rips in his passport... Straight through security without drama & off to grab a breakfast & much needed cups of coffee & tea with barely enough time to finish them before we board .NCP car Parking will be getting a letter of dissatisfaction on my return as the faff in the car park threw the mornings schedule out ! The flight passes without drama and we arrive at Kef on time , disembark head to the toilets......Kef airport has the most impressive toilets I've ever come across at an airport & have to be seen to be belived ! Luggage collected we attempt to find the rental company from a sketchy map . I head off to where i think the place is , get it confirmed by a young lady valeting a car & head back to the group . Andy ,by this time has found the rental centre on google maps & they are heading toward me .We trug across a lava strewn carpark , into the office , introduce ourselves & the young chap calls the pick up car to collect us. The van is kept about 5 mins away & is ready for our inspection. I should point out at this time that none of us have ever driven a camper van -ever ! & here we are , about to set off around Iceland in one .....
The chap gives us a quick tour of the van, pulls it out of the garage & off we go , me in the hotseat . I try to recalibrate my brain quickly to driving on the Left & keep a close eye on the mirrors as this van is longer & wider than I'm used to.....& I'm sat on the wrong side :-) 1st port of call is the supermarket ,approx 1/2 mile form the rental centre, to stock up on necessities, juice , Skyr , biscuits , fruit & salad stuff. A small fortune is spent...carrier bags 10p each...these shall be saved for the next visit. BY the way , Skyr is just the best & now being stocked in supermarkets in the UK...try some :-)
Loaded up we head off in the hope of finding Hvalyeri beach for a scouting session.....we fail miserably & my temper begins to rise, this is one of the main places we'd hoped to visit ! Not wishing to use too much time we set off again for the Sun Voyager sculpture in Reykyavik . This proved far easier to find as did parking the van . A few shots of the sculpture & we headed up the hill to visit the Hallsgimksja , the town was far busier than expected but the sky was moody so a few long exposures we taken. A quick nosey inside revealed the most impressive organ pipes but as I didn't feel comfortable using the tripod( this was a church afterall & tourists were all around) so I settled for a phone snap. We passed an hour or so at the church then headed back to the van , programmed the satnav for Selfoss & headed off . I for one was glad we were heading out of the city , nothing against it but a combination of wrong side of the road, new vehicle & lots of traffic was doing nothing for my stress levels !
A quick stop at the 1st service station to partake of Iceland's famous Hotdogs ( truly scrumptious I can confirm) & we headed out on Route 1 to Selfoss some 40 mins south. Scenery became prettier , buildings became more sparse & the traffic thinned . A beautiful downhill section lead to a left turn on to Route 35 heading to Geysir via Laugarvatan then on to Gulfoss for sunset - this was the plan at least. The road to Geysir was as I remembered it from last year & was quiet but I noticed several campsites that certainly hadn't be there last year. Iceland seems to be getting busier , I can only hope it doesn't become to commercialized .The main attraction for me , aside from the never ending photo opportunities is the almost total peace and quite and lack of touristy things .Other than the numerous coaches carrying tourists last year I rarely saw visitors so the landscape remained unspoilt.
Laugarvatan passed without notice & we pulled at another new campite at Geysir , only a handful of tents & a couple of motorhomes so not too busy . Quick visit to the loo's then gathered our gear & walked up to the main attraction , Stokker . On the other side of the road is Geyir Hotel, restaurant & gift shop . Last summer the parking area at the side of the hotel had been filled with all manner of vans, mpv's & 4x4's fitted with tyres that were almost as tall as me .These were the trucks that take tourists on excursions across the glaciers , today there were none there...another sign perhaps that tourism is on the increase ?
The path that leads to Stokker is edge by a stream of steaming water, small signs dotted along the way indicated the water reached temperatures of 80-100 degree's.This is possibly the only indicator that Iceland is discovering Health & safety... We passed Little Geysir , who is now considerably bigger than last year and headed to his big brother .It was heading toward 8pm and here was still a fair amount of people surrounding him, waiting eagerly for the next erruption . I had hoped to find the place empty , certainly this time last year all the tourists were tucked up in their hotels by this time , doubtless reliving the days adventures over a glass or 2 of local beverage . Undeterred we spent a lovely couple of hours taking shots from different angles & exploring further up the hill behind where Lupins where growing in huge swathes as far as the eye could see & we were treated to some spectacular cloud formations.This more than made up for the excessively loud tourists at the geysir...is there really any need to make sure everyone for a 10 mile radius can hear you talking to the person stood next to you ?
Back at the van we loaded up & headed off, past Geysir & on towards Gulfoss , hoping for a decent sunset , the sky looked promising so hopes were high .As is the norm, the road to Gulfoss was lined with swathes of Lupins, horses with their foals in fields either side of the road & of course, stunning views whichever way we looked . The right turn down to Gulfoss lower carpark snuck up quicker than expected , brakes anchored on , turn made just in time....once parked up we put the kettle on as it was far to long since our last cupa. Far more folk around than last year, tourists & a photography tour . We all headed off in various directions to set up for the 1st shot , color was just starting in the sky though didn't promise to become spectacular. This time the wind wasn't so high & I ventured along the path to the lower level , stopped for a couple more shots then made my to the far ledge which was full of people with tripods & phone cameras .I picked my spot set up , focused , cleaned the lens of water spray , put the filter system on, cleaned the filter of spray & pressed the shutter button....at the precise point a rather large lady decided to stand right in front of me ! I cursed several times & waited for her to go , cleaned the filters of spray yet again , she moveed & I took the shot ! I was by now rather bored with the whole "clean the filters of spray" scenario so packed up & wandered back to the van along with everyone else .
From Gulfoss we were aiming for Seljalandsfoss for sunrise but ,as was to become the theme of the whole trip,we were running late . Back tracking past Geysir we turned left on to Road 359 just as the sky began to glow red , made the call to pull up ,3 of us jumped out of the van & headed off to quickly set up for the shot . Sunrise was like a line of fire across the sky, we were on a narrow bridge above a river which was reflecting the fire. Grabbing a couple of different compositions I turned to the other side of the bridge to shoot downstream , the light was good & the sky moody. Marsha choose this point to make friends with a couple of local Icelandic Horses in the field adjoining the river. Sunrise captured we piled back in the van & set off....again....with a to visit Faxifoss on the way. This waterfall had a signpost which made life simple , we turned & followed the track down through a campsite to a fishing area at the bottom . Rather impressive , small in comparrison with Gulfoss but still millions of gallons of icy cold water rushing over the edge & away downstream . Jo & Marsha chose to stay in the van so just Dean , Andy & myself ventured to the waters edge & eventually Marsha joined us . A pleasant 45 ins or so later we pile back in the van & head off to find the walk behind waterfall & the amazing toilet I'd experienced there 2years ago on a visit in search of the northern lights.
A good 1hr 30 mins later we pulled in the Seljalandsfoss carpark & again , changes were apparent & in my opinion not necessarily good ones . Part of the appeal of Iceland is its wildness ,natural & unspoilt by man .This water fall is illuminated at night & that I can forgive,the inclusion of the shop on site & 2 more loo's is pushing it . After getting the shots I wanted I headed to the toilet for a change of socks, undies & t-shrt....the loos were dirtier than I recalled, the heating wasn't on, the water from the taps was laughably under pressured & it just looked a little worse for wear.......quite a disappointment , which may seem a strange thing to say about a toilet but hey, I'm odd :-) There were 3 or 4 other vehicles parked up already, tourists again rather than hardened photographers....it was roughly 4am . A bite to eat & out to photograph the waterfall , the sky was looking good , far better than my previous visit so I ventured up the new steel staircase & set up for a shot . De ja vue kicked in....wipe lens , wiper filters, focus , wipe filters ,shoot , wipe filters...I left it at one shot & headed back down ,wiping filters was starting to bore me !
Next on the hit list was Skogafoss, a huge, sheet waterfall . I need to sleep so jumped in to the over cab bed & let Dean take he wheel. I dozed fr 10 mins ,heard the talking about which entrance so gave sleep up as a bad idea . Skogafoss is a neat little set up , camping ,cafe, information centre & a large car park. The car park was much fuller than expected given the time & there were tents in the parking area , again it was far busier than this time last year .Wellies on camera bags grabbed & we head to the fall . Dean, Andy & Marsha are setting up their shots , Dean & Andy almost in the middle of the river ! I've a particular shot in mind but can't get it so settle for shooting the light on the hills that run down the leftside of the river that flows from the fall . It got quite addictive as the light kept changing ! We head back to the van after an hour or so, no-one feels like walking up the steps to visit the top , tiredness is setting & we need food & a cuppa. As we were running late & it was blowing a gale I suggested we miss one of the places we were going to visit . We agreed which one so headed straight to Dyraholay black beach & the Basalt columns . I'd tried to photograph these before & failed to find an interesting composition so I stayed in the van......i really didn't fancy getting windswept & soaked!.
From here we headed in to Vik & the Church on the hill surrounded by Lupins . More signs of improvements in the form of a now tarmac'd carpark ! we braved the wind, grabbed a few shots & had a little giggle when a Bride & her photographer turned up....she looked frozen ! A quick visit to the fuel station & the Ice Gear store then a whizz to the town's Swimming pool where Marsha could shower. We'd planned for a campsite on the sunday evening so the rest of us opted for showers then . I took advantage of the break to grab an hours kip across the front seats as that was the only space available . Not the most comfortable place but I needed a sleep.
Marsha returned & we headed along Road road leaving VIK behind & heading for Jokulsarlon Lagoon, one of the highlights of the trip . The road was relatively free of traffic, the wind fairly high & the rain persistent .The wether report had said the worst of the weather was going to be Vik area so we hooped to arrive at Jokulsarlon in better weather. The scenery changed from large open plains covered in large swathes of lupins which reached as far as the eye could see, mountains dotted around, I guess the result of volcanic erruptions over the years...but that might be wrong. A few miles further down the road it started to look like the surface of another planet . Large mounds soft pale green moss covering lava, stretching in to the distance, almost surreal, then changed again to open plains of vibrant green fields then miles of flat barren black sandy area's with tufts of hardy grasses appearing ,the result of the most recent erruption of the volcano with the name I can't pronounce let alone spell !
Great tongues of the Vatnokojul Glacier could be seen to our left as we approached our destination after around 2 hour of driving. To the left was a sign for Faljusarlon Glacier tours so we turned off on to the rough track & parked up. This is like a mini Jokulsarlon , hundreds of icebergs in all shapes & sizes filled the lagoon which was, strangley ,a muddy pale brown.....perhaps due to torrential rain ? we split off & went our own ways to get the photo's we wanted .Having shot a few Bigger photo's at Jokulsarlon last year & started looking for detail, trying to pick out the almost irridescent vibrant blue green of the bergs, a berg that looked like a huge snowball caught my eye as it stood out from the darker greeny grey of the mountains behind and a lone small berg floating near the edge of the lagoon that looked like a small crocodile .That done I wandered a little further but found the scene too cluttered so I hiked back up the hill & headed back to the van.
The others appeared shortly after, all overdosed on the scene .We set off back on Route 1 & pulled over in to the car park before the bridge which leads to the Ice Lagoon . More cars than I expected were already parked up & we pulled in next to one where he occupant was busy cooking tea of boiled rice & fish on a little camping stove . Again, we all took different routes down on to the soft black sand heading to the waters edge which was scattered with pieces of ice of all shapes , sizes and colors that had flowed out from the lagoon . Mother nature was not on our side & we knew sunset wouldn't happen but the place is still captivating . I was looking for a particular shot but had no luck , & as I didn't want to take photos for the sake of it ,I made my way back to the van after an hour or so & waited for the others to return. Andy was last, as expected......he'd been in seventh heaven on the beach & was making the most of it.
Light rain started so I fired the van up & moved on , across the bridge to the other side of the beach ....I was asked why as it was the same as the one we'd been on.....no, it isn't, the waves come in more on that beach as the lead in is somewhat flatter . My travelling companions decided against going for a look & went to bed . The rain was now harder but I walked down to the waters edge in the hope of seeing the shot I wanted but there were very bergs for some reason so I decided against taking any photo's.....couldn't face more filter cleaning ! Back in the van with 3 tucked up in bed , Andy in the co-pilot seat , I turned the van around & headed over the road to Jokulsarlon Lagoon . We both hoped the rain would ease...wishful thinking ! The lagoon was very different from this time last year . Large icebergs were making their way very slowing down the mouth to the sea , a few large ones were still in the lagoon itself but it was essentially empty .Very strange & I still wonder why this should be . We sat for a few minutes, took a couple of phone shots as the rain had got heavier then made tracks back on to Route one & headed off to find Vestrahorn .
This was another of the major places we wanted to see but we both felt the weather was going to be against us. The rain was starting to ease , the roads empty as usual , 3 asleep in the back we trundled on at a steady 60mph ( this was a very rough guess as the speedo appeared to be over reading by at least 10kph . One missed turn meant a detour of approx 15 mins ,mountains in the distance looked similar & several times we thought we'd seen Vestrahorn .Then a sign appeared just before a long tunnel so we turned off . For 400 yards the tarmac continued then it turned in to a dirt track with ruts that looked & felt like you were driving over corrugated iron ! I drove on very very slowly, conscious not only of the sleepers but the possibility of damage to the underside of the van by an errant stone being kicked up from tyres at speed . The track went on for some 3-4km's , some off camber downhill corners made me very nervous as it felt like the van was leaning far further than it should have been & I had visions of the thing toppling over . Eventually we came to a fork & just a few yards up to the left of the fork we spotted a carpark .
A rather strange place , skeletons of , possibly , some large fish & maybe an elephant head lay on the floor outside a smart very new looking wooden building which appeared to be an office & several large totem poles carved in to mens faces to either side .The picture in the window was of the mountain range we wanted to photograph - Vestrahorn. The rain had eased to the kind of steady drizzle you don't really notice but soaks you in 10 mins . Undeterred Andy & I set off to find this elusive mountain range , having come this far a bit of poor weather was not going to stop us .We didn't take the cameras though , the mist was low enough that any view would have been obscured . Up a short hill , round a corner & there it was, tops shrouded in mist , but it was definitely the right mountain . We walked a little further & came to a sheer drop down to the level below , to a mass of iron , bins , woooden planks , some sort of tractor I think & various other bits of rubbish . It bought home how a photo doesn't always tell the truth . We found a gentle slope down to the bottom & walked out a little way across the sea floor ( the tide was out by the way ), this as as far as we could tell, where the reflection photo's would be taken....if he weather was better of course ! The rain was still doing its best to soak us so we headed back , was around midnight i think . The others were still asleep , the only space left for the 2 of us was the make up bed from the dining area . Not wanting to make too much noise we settled for trying to lie on each bench seat....it didnt work. I think I got about 2 hours kip , not enough room on the seat to turn over & the cushions were unbelivably soft which was playing havoc with my hips, so I gave up after 4 hours & got up again. The others woke shortly after , 3 of us went for a wander to look at the mountain again in the vain hope that the mist had lifted enough to get a least one photo...It hadn't . It was about this time one of my fellow travellers made a comment which irked me more than somewhat & was the start of a major fall out. I will make no more mention of it but suffice to say I have learnt my lesson & will travel solo in future !
The decision was made to head off to the next destination of Breidalsvik for a fuel & provisions stop, then onwards to Egilsstadir for the 1st campsite . The rain & mist stayed with us , the low cloud obscuring the far mountains as we drove through the valley toward the twisty uphill hairpin dirt track which is ,in actual fact , still Route 1 , the main road in Iceland. This is my 2nd trip through the valley & yet again I can only imagine how stunning the views are . There's a new pull-in at he top of the hill , next to the mountain hut so we parked up, took a few quick camera phone shots & started the long & windy descent to Egilsstadir . The campsite is run by a jolly lady with very good english , which is just as well as I currently know only 2 icelandic words & 1 of those is a bit suspect in pronunciation . I pay the princely sum of 7900 isk approx £45 & we pick our bay.....admittedly we're only going to be a here a few hours but the cost includes showers ( much needed) electric hook up for the van ( everything needed recharging), waster water & chemical loo disposal so not a bad deal at £9 each. 1st Job is to hook up to the leccy then get he extension lead out & bung everything possible on charge .Inside 2 mins we had 10 items hooked up plus extras in the vans 12v outlets . Next up are showers, spotlessly clean with plenty of hot water they are much appreciated . Fresh clothes put on & we wander over to the local Netto for a few supplies & the N1 gas station to indulge in the Icelandic speciality , a hotdog . Everyone is sitting around chatting, I'm geting itchy feet & want to set off for Myvatan so I wander back to the van , unload the groceries , repack ( well, stuff to be more precise) my case & wait for the others .The plan was to leave by 3pm, we finally set off at 4.30pm !
Route 1 to Myvatan is yet nother road where the scenery changes with almost every bend , lush greenery , fields of Lupins , lava rocks , a few horses here and there and a winding ribbon of black tarmac for as far as the eye can see . The last 20-30 miles or so before the Geothermal area the scenery changes yet again to just how I would imagine the surface of the moon to look , black and goldy colored sandy ash , tufts of hardy grass dotted around randomly , small pockets of snow still lying on some of the distant mountains and today it was topped off with a blue sky . And wind....lots of gusting wind sending sand into eyes & camera lenses ...... not ideal ! A quick stop in the same layby I called at last year so I settled for a quick pone snap as yet again the sun was in front of us meaning we were shooting in to the light . We piled back in to the van & headed off to the Geothermal Area of Namafajall.
Having visited last year I wanted to try for a few different shots & I spotted the 1st one on the way into the car park . I grabbed my bag whilst the others were still thinking about things & set off through the roped areas heading to the road , the black sliver of tarmac winding uphill in a gentle S curve . Although the sun was wrong I figured it would still make a shot . Jumped over a small gulley & climbed the embankment to the road.....Iceland doesn't seem to have pavements on Route one , just a solid white line approx 5 inches from the drop off......thankfully traffic was minimal . I pointed the camera & took a test shot, that'll not work then , the flow of the s bend was lost so I about turned & headed back jumping over the small gulley again & back on to the marked path. The sunlight was just catching the hill in front of me which caught my eye so I set up the tripod , framed the shot to include the area that was scarred with yellow , green & white patches of dried mud ( presumably from small erruptions such as those going on in the main area).As is normal for me , by the time I have everything set just right the sun does a runner behind clouds & drops low enough that when it comes out of hiding i's too low to light the hill ! Undeterred I opt for a long exposure as the wind was fair chasing the clouds across the sky .That done I wandered down a little further , popped the 70-200 on the body & frame up the road shot I'd been after . The sun was playing ball again & with a couple of different exposure settings i got something close to what I'd had in my minds eye . I then settled to wandering around the main area taking the occasional shot , more abstract than anything but hopefully they help to build a picture of the place.
Back in to the van & off up the hill round surprise corner , which failed to illicit any response from the others ! At the bottom of the hill is a large pool of sparkling aquamarine water, a geothermal pool , not exactly an everyday sight ! We managed to drive straight past the Myvatan Nature Baths which was the next port of call . Not sure how we managed it but as I was in the back I couldn't see if there were any signs . The place was 5 mins from Namajfall but we kept driving for almost 1/2 an hour before finally realising we'd gone wrong . As there is a ring road around Myvatan we opted to stay on it & head back to where we had been in the hopes of finding the Baths. There it was on the right just after the aquamarine pool ! I opted not to go in to the baths , partly as it wasn't exactly cheap , partly because I was still feeling miffed....all I wanted to do was take photo's & it looked like we were going to miss sunset at Godafoss . I made a cuppa , wrote a little more of my travel diary , had a quick nosey at facebook & they duly arrived back just gone 11pm . A little more faffing around & we were finally on our way. We arrived just about midnight , only 1 or 2 other cars in the carpark so almost before the van had come to a stop I'd grabbed my gear & headed off .
This time the water was a wonderfull aqua color & the light was perfect . I started in the obvious place and then just wandered downstream , stopping along the way to get shots from different angles . Through the rusty turnstile I crossed the bridge & looking down at the water I wondered if it was possible to get down to the next level . As i reached the end of the bridge I spotted little rustic bridge so figured i could indeed get further down the banking . I found a little path which lead me to the bridge....i did wonder how safe it was as part of it was missing but hey , live dangerously :-) Safely over I headed to the edge of the sheer drop but then spotted lovely small waterfall dropping in to a tiny pool.....a photograph or 3 had to be taken . The info board at the head of the path told me this was Geitafoss & I spent half an hour or so taking shots from various angles then headed back across the rickety bridge and followed the main path back to Godafoss.The sky was turning all shades of beautiful , the only sound to be heard was the occasional bird and the roar of the falls . I walked back down the path having shot my fill of sunset photos...the sunset starts around midnight & continues to color the sky right through to sunrise . The lack of darkness plays havoc with your body clock but it's so amazing that to sleep through it is a crime . I crossed back over the big metal bridge & started back toward the camper & it's sleeping occupants . Andy was still out but he too soon went in . I set up close to the falls & waited for the sun to come back up & put some light on the water. Sadly it never quite happened but I did manage to catch my 1st rainbow over falls which more than made up for it .
I noticed a chap set up a little to my left , we smiled & said good morning & started chatting. He was over from New Jersey for 10 days & was touring the whole of the ring road by car & hostel rather than camper van . Back home he would mainly shot wildlife & he started telling me about foxes, almost tame , that inhabit a beach local to him. The photo's he had of these foxes were truly stunning . Sadly I never thought to ask his name or if his photo's were on flickr or the like but i shall be doing some web searching when I get home . I can foresee a trip to New Jersey ! Sunrise fizzled out, the light never quite hitting the water so I packed up , bid the fox photographer farewell & headed to the van . I knew I wouldn't sleep , the bed was stupidly uncomfortable but at least I could sit down & maybe doze a little . I think I dozed for maybe a couple of hours , hips & back aching from the too soft mattress so I got up & went for a walk to the Hostel the other side of the main road which , although it wasn't open , had some toilets outside .
By the time I got back the others were up , breakfast was duly eaten & off we set , back on Route 1 towards Blondous . It was meant to be Akureyi ! I dozed on & off & when I woke we were just pulling in to Glaumber , a quaint church & a few original Icelandic Turf houses .There were a fair amount of tourists coaches already there but they tend only to stay at places for about 1/2 an hour so it was a case of just being patient . I didn't venture inside the buildings as tripods were not allowed & I didn't think i'd be able to hand hold & get a sufficiently fast enough shutter speed . I did take a look inside the church though , very beautifully decorated & surprisingly elegant ( not quite the description I had in mind but can't find the right word ). Outside was a youngish chap building the traditional turf wall , fascinting to watch him work, almost an art form . It was good to see some of the old traditions still being used . We stayed around an hourish then headed back off toward Blondous . I dozed yet again so missed most of the journey . Blondous is I think , mainly a fishing village though it obviously see's a fair amount of tourists as there were at least 2 hotels & a few guest houses . We parked on a side street & I headed off to try & get some shots of the local Icelandic Horses. They were incredibly nosey & headed straight over to me as I stood by the fence....which was a shame as I really wanted a distance shot....never work with children or animals ! I fired off a few shots but with the sun again in the wrong place ( never happy are we :-)) then turned & went back to the village & down towards the sea. The tide was in so no real beach to walk on so I settled for an abstract type shot of a rather ancient mooring bouy - at least that was what I think it might have been . Heading back to the camper I called in to one of the hotels & asked if it was possible to get a cup of tea . The gent I spoke to turned out to be the owner & although the place was't really open he went to the kitchen & made me a much needed brew . I sat outside the hotel in the sun & he came to chat to me . He'd only just taken ownership of the place , he was actually n accountant but he'd got fed up with the rat race and decided to do something completely different for a while . He wasn't sure how long he would be there but his moto was " everyone should enjoy life & not spend it all doing something they don't enjoy" .
Eventually the others turned up and we headed off again , Hvitserkur was the next stop .The road turned from paved to dirt track again & by god,the camper van did well to survive . Although the ruts weren't huge they were regular and the van rattled loudly , crockery & cutlery banging around in the cupboards , thankfully the plates and bowls were plastic and designed to withstand such violence .
We turned off the main road down a steep track to the quite busy car park .The sun was shining and the wind had eased so I set off along the pathway to find the monolith that was the reason for the visit . In the distance i could see 2 rock formations and hoped these weren't the ones we wanted as it looked to be about 2 miles away , a distance i didn't fancy walking whilst carrying my camera rucksack which weighs far more than it probably should do ! A decked viewing area came in to view and from there , almost directly , below i could see the monolith on the beach below .That was the good news. The bad news was the climb down looked a trifle steep , very steep in fact with no obviously well worn route to follow which surprised me given the volumn of people that visit each year . Ah well , in for a penny in for a pound. I started down the track nearest the decked area , very very slowly as slipping could result in broken bones or worse....broken camera gear ! I made it to the bottom without mishap thankfully and stood for a few moments just staring at the monolith........photos just don't do it justice , they certainly don't convey its size , it is massive ! The sky was blue with a few white clouds but only looking out to sea which meant a less than ideal position for shooting but beggars can't be choosers and rules are meant to be broken . The sun was lighting the side of the rock giving depth and bringing out the muted colors , the wet sand had ripples in it and a large puddle showed a slight reflection . I set up and took several long exposures trying to get some movement in the clouds , kinda worked i think . I then moved further down the beach so Ii was looking at the creatures head....it was like it was 2 different days , thick whitish grey clouds , stationary in the sky & not a patch of blue to be seen . Several more long exposures to smooth the incoming sea taken from different angles and I was done .It's quite a surreal feeling actually taking photos of something you've seen so often on the web . I then spent 1/2 hour attempting bird in flight shots as the cliff edges were filled with breeding gulls (don't ask me what breed ) and youngsters , possibly taking their 1st training flights . After 1/2 an hour I remembered why i don't shoot birds inflight....tricky little blighters....motocross is far easier ! The climb back up the rocks was far easier than I anticipated & whilst getting my breath back at the top i took a few moments to drink in the view.....it was one of those LARGE views that simply takes your breath away.
It started spitting with rain ,one of my travelling companions said we ought to make tracks back up the hill as the rain might come in biblical proportions so off we set , apparently food & sleep was needed but I was still buzzing . On route to Holmavik we were , Road 61 which hugs the coast . I was bored of travelling in the back of the van so dozed until we reached Holmavik where the others tried to find a restuarant......odd opening hours in Iceland .I t was around 8pm ish and everything was closed including the Mueseum of Witchcraft & Sorcery which I kinda wanted to have a look round . We had parked in the car park directly behind it & it looked fascinating if a touch creepy . Off we set again , down road 60 turn left through yet more stunning scenery , made even better by the light coming good . Shame really as we were travelling , light is so important for photography & here we were missing it ! Whilst planning the trip we'd spent hours driving round on Google maps & we'd we crossed ,several time if not more , a lovely curved causeway & suddenly it was there in front of us , glowing golden yellow in the evening light . I had thought that we might stop , the light & the curve of the causeway , beautiful aqua colored water to either side & snow cappped moountains in the back ground would have made for s superb panoramic shot......but no, we drove on ! The road snaked through a lovely lush green valley flanked by mountains to either side , several water falls dropping from great heights....but still we drove on .
A town came in to view , Budardalur & this was to be our stop over for the night . We drove down several side roads , and along the sea front where we spotted a small sort of church on the hillside above , and by small I mean it was more like just the top of the spire , painted read & white . I also spotted a small picnic type bench on the grass over looking the sea which I figured might make a good spot for a sunset shot . We eventually parked up in a car park opposite a campsite & I jumped out , eager to go take some photo's . It was close to midnight & I was hopeful that the sky would light up ....positive thinking always ! I headed toward the sea hoping to find the bench I'd seen earlier , managed to miss it but found a small decked area which lead down to the beach , strewn with pebbles & boulders , a swath of seaweed gently bobbing on the surface about 10 ft from the shore , distant snow capped mountains glowing with gorgeous sunset light & almost perfect clouds . I was happy . The sky did indeed start to light up ....behind me & to the right....I couldn't see enough foregound interest to shoot to the right , too many buildings & cars in view plus I don't have any success shooting straight in to the sunset . I got a little bit of color in the direction i was shooting so settled for that , took a few shots then decided to head back up toward the camper go to the right where there seemed to be more color appearing .
I heard voices on the decked area , looked u & saw the happy smiley face of a rather excited black Labrador . Once on the decking I met his owner....the local chief of police & his friend who was visiting . Happy Solstice was their greeting & I responded with the same . We chatted for about 15 mins , the friend originally lived up in the North , where he spent many evenings around this time of year watching the sun never quite dip below the horizon . I was curious about how safe the area was , all the houses had belongings like children's bikes , play toys etc just left outside on the lawns , windows & doors to houses left ajar.....the chief told they have almost zero crime as everyone knows everyone . What a lovely way to live . I needed to move on before the light went so bid them goodnight , they wished me well for the rest of the journey & off I poddled off up to the top of the street , turning right , no real idea where I would get to but wanted something away from the houses industrial units . At the end of the 2nd street I came to was a huge field , stretching out for a good few miles, the breeze had picked up making the long grass sway & I figured this would be as good a spot as any . I walked a little way in to the field & set the tripod down by the fence , aiming to use it as a lead in to the distant mountains & the glowing sky . I fired off a couple of shots , repositioned slightly , another couple of shots & then decided to call it a night . Sunset had just about finished , sunrise would start but I was struggling to find THAT perfect location . I set off back toward the van & side tracked slightly to the little church spire thing on top of the hill , surrounded by Lupins . I tryed several different compositions but couldn't find one I liked , the wind was blowing the Lupins a tad too much but I fired off a couple of shots anyway . It was approaching 2am but I really didn't want to sleep so I mooched off down to the harbour....might as well have a good look round whilst I'm here . Not a soul was about , the only noises were birds calling & waves lapping the shore....this was what 'd come for , tranquility & peace . At no time in Iceland have i ever felt unsafe , a lone female carrying a large amount of expensive photography equipment in the early hour of the morning would be risky at home to say the least . Last year , my final morinng was spent on the seafront at the far end of Reykjavik . There were a couple of groups of youngish lads ( everyone's young compared to me) laughing & joking, having a few beers & I felt slightly uneasy . Several of the lads came over & started talking to me , just curious as to what I was doing , sharing tales of why they were there & then they went back to their friends....no hassle, no aggro , just folk enjoying the scenery & soaking up the atmosphere......priceless.
Eventually I realise the sunrise good as it was , would be better just watched rather than photographed , more time was needed to find a really good spot & a check on sunrise/sunset directions needed for the next visit as there was definite potential . I made my way back to the camper , it's occupants already asleep , my bed ( such as it was ) made up but still unable to sleep mainly due to the bed being bloody uncomfortable . I settled for a quick peruse of fb , sorted a few emails then tried to get some shut eye . I managed about 2 hours before painful hips & back woke me , turning over bough a little relief but only short lived as the other hip then started hurting . At about 6am I gave up hope of a decent sleep, gentle snoring coming from all beds showed he others were still fast on so I took a walk over to the campsite toilets , toothbrush in hand . The campsite was set out in such a manner that each plot had hedges to at least 2 sides affording the occupants some privacy and people were stirring , heading to the showers ready for another day .
I've not mentioned the weather much so in brief, it was warm , incredibly warm for Iceland & approx 5-6 degrees warmer than this time last year . We had rain in varying amounts but mainly whilst driving ( excluding Vestrahorn) but even then it remained warm . Certainly warm enough that thermals were not needed , most of the time a t-shirt & fleece top were sufficient . Jumping ahead slightly , when we reached the North West it was warm enough for t-shirts , light weight summer trousers & sun tan lotion , even the locals were in full on summer mode, the lads going topless the women in shorts & one spotted in a bikini ! It gave he scenery a slightly surreal look......baking in the sun whist looking at snow covered peaks . It struck me as odd therefore that there had not been more icebergs in Jokulsarlon , surely if the glacier was melting it would be depositing more icebergs in the lagoon ?
Back on track.......everyone finally awake we set off , heading for Glanni water fall , a new one for me .The car park was relatively empty , the main occupants were the midges but these ones don't seem to bite , just generally make a nuisance of themselves , getting in your hair , your ears & if really unlucky , your mouth ! We had purchased nets so we all looked liked brides of the dead but I found them a pain when using the view finder so didn't wear mine as much as I thought I would . I headed to the main viewing area which gave the view past the waterfall & down the river , not inspiring but essential record shots for my failing memory ( age !) I then moved round the path & went down on to the rocks for some closer shots , all long exposures as I'm addicted to milky water . I started to pack up & found that somehow I'd managed to trap my tripod leg solidly between 3 small rocks . The rocks didn't want to budge so in the end I resorted to brute force...not the cleverest of things to do given I was precariously close to the edge of a raging water fall . The leg gave in eventually but bears the scars & is slightly mishapen now . I'd taken all the shots I wanted so headed back to the van to await the others . I could see the weather starting to close in & sure enough felt the 1st few spots of rain.
There was a little wooden summerhouse type building very close to the van , wooden decking around the outside with a table & a couple of chairs and a slightly over hanging roof so I took shelter . The summerhouse turned out to be a small snack bar ( closed) for the golfers , I hadn't noticed we were adjacent to golf course ! Being a nosey type I peered through the windows , more tables,chairs , a microwave , ice cream cooler & a kettle...I could've killed for a cuppa ! The chairs hadn't been outside when we arrived so i, thinking there might be someone inside , I tried the door & it opened in to a little porch type area , the inner door however was locked .There was a little shelf upon which there was a guest book , a sheet of laminated paper with costs written on it & next to that was a credit card machine . It's a different way of life in Iceland .
Around this time I kinda lost track of my diary but I think we headed further along the road in search of Hruanfossar . I'd visited briefly last year but had stayed on the upper levels .This time we parked up almost at the entrance simply because the main parking area was full & the others headed off for a nosey around .There is a large decked area that offers superb views across the river & falls below but didn't , for me at least , give the photo opportunities I wanted . I walked across the grass verge to the edge of the cliffs & spotted an almost path leading all the way down to the edge of the river. I carefully clambered half way down & seeing that it was possible to get all the way down to the waters edge I about turned & went back to tell the others . Everyone kitted up & we headed off .The climb down was a touch tricky in places , water trickling down the sides of the rock face pooled in places making little muddy areas that were slippy but eventually we all made it safely down . It was well worth it , we were able to walk all the way along the the edge of the river , almost to the decked area above & we were directly opposite the amazing wall of waterfalls that crashed down in to the aqua blue river . We each found our own spots & set about capturing the scene .The weather was on our side with a stunning blue sky , fluffy white clouds & a gentle breeze which also helped to keep the worst of the midges away .
We must have spent almost 2 hours down there but eventually decided we really needed to be heading off so began the long trek back up the cliff side to the van .But I think we were all pleased with the shots we'd taken .
We set off for Stykkisholmur which was the next campsite , about 1.5 hours away on the Western Penninsula . After approx 10 mins driving we turned in to a campsite...I was confused . The others looked at the map & said yup, we're here . I looked at the map & said errr , no , this is Husafell Campsite .The map was looked at again , hmmm , yup definitely the wrong place so off we set again . As we pulled out of the campsite I realised I'd been here last year & , following the satnav, I ended up at the the start of one of the F roads ....F roads are only for 4x4's !
Stykkisholmur had been chosen for it's closeness to Kirkjufells which was the spot for sunrise , another place we had all seen a million photos of . I'd been last year but couldn't wait to revisit it . I dozed i the back of the van as we drove through yet more stunning scenery , the sun was shining , the distant mountains still had snow covered peaks & the traffic was light . We arrived at Styykis & pulled in to a car parking area to try and figure out where the campsite was as we'd not seen any signs on the way in . According to the satnav we needed to get on the ferry...we thought this was a little extreme ! I suggested we just turn right , drive up the hill and see if we could find a sign . We set off , took several turns back to the main road & as we were heading out of the town we spotted the sign , next left turn & we arrived at the campsite, yet again at the side of a golf course. I hoped out & went in to the club house as there didn't seem anywhere else to go & ask about parking up .I paid the fee's & we drove to possibly the furthest spot for the club house to hook up to the electricity , but it was close to the shower & loo block . The electric hook up didn't work so we drove back to the main area & tried again . Yes, power we had......for about 3 seconds. We tried plugging it in again & yes, we had power, for about 3 seconds . Several attempts later , instruction sheet for the van read several times, socket unplugged & replugged , cable checked & still no power . I headed to the clubhouse , we'd decided it couldn't be the van as the fuse wasn't tripping , the cable looked fine so it had to be the hook-up point ....even we couldn't be doing it wrong , it was only a case of plugging 2 sockets in for gawds sake ! The guy in the clubhouse came back to check we weren't being simpletons , he prodded the hook up box several times & stood looking at it . The cable is made up of 2 sections, a long section & a short section , plugs on each end of both sections . The shorter bit was about 4 ft long & where the 2 where joined by a socket was laying in the grass so I picked it up , pushed it together just to make sure it was connected properly & hey presto , power returned ! Looks like it had worked loose so wasn't making a proper connection .The clubhouse guy just smiled & went back to his post .
Finally every thing was plugged in & charging happily so we went off to investigate the showers . Different I think is the best word . At either end of the toilet block was a shower cubicle consisting of a concrete floor , a door & 2 side panels that were approx 8ft tall & didn't quite reach the floor by about 4 inches .There was no roof , yup someone forgot to put a roof on ! It was quite a breezy day , the wind came down from above & went out under the door & sidepanels , concentrated the mind a little when showering that's for sure . The shower itself was one of the big waterfall types & was scorchingly warm , heaven after a couple of days on the road . Getting dried off in a hurry ,fresh clothes on & legged it in to the toilet block where the Icelanders had thoughtfully installed plug sockets for those of us that need hair dryers :-) Showers done , batteries charged it was time to head off and find some food for the others. I'd eaten from our supplies bu the others wanted hot food . We called in to several places that looked likely but Iceland seems to close at 9pm . We were heading toward the iconic Kirkjufellsfoss for sunset & road 574 lead us through the charming village of Grundarfjordour , it's beautifully bright colored houses nestled at the waters edge against a dramatic backdrop of snow capped mountains . We drove though the side streets for a while and eventually came across what appeared to be little restuarant . The others dived in & although the place was apparently closing for the night they managed to get pizza . Apetites sated we headed off finally to our destination for the evening which was just 10 min drive further on .
We pulled in to the small carpark on the left which was somewhat fuller than at my last visit but had just enough space left for one midsized camper . I grabbed my bag & tripod & headed off up the road as I knew there was an inlet just over the brow of the hill that might offer some good reflections but alas the wind was just a little too high . Undeterred I set off back down the road toward the car park as I had another shot in mind , from the banks of the shore opposite the mountain . The tide wasn't in quite as far as I'd hoped so the shot was a no go , one to be saved for the next trip . I crossed the road & headed to the steps at the side of the falls , Kirkjufellsfoss is made up of 2 sets of falls both of which you can get incredibly close to if you don't mind getting a little damp , steps lead up one side to the bridge at the top then back down the other side where you can get right down to the waters edge . There were about a dozen people around the top, tripods & cameras all set ready for sunset . Unfortunately the sky had cleared leaving not a cloud to be seen but the view was still breath taking and even with all the people around it was quiet barring the crash of the water as it headed down the falls to the sea. I walked down to the bottom of the steps & found my way down the grassy bank to the base of the lower fall where I took a couple of shots form the same spot as last year. Feeling a little braver I clambered carefully over the wet rocks to get a small dry area nearer the falls,t ook another couple of shots using the wide angle 10-20 mm then , very very carefully picked my way across a few more wet rocks to a little alcove directly beside the fall , any closer & I would have been behind them . A small slip & I'd have been in the icy water which wasn't something I fancied , mainly because I didn't want to lose the camera at this point in the trip . I know from experience that water & cameras are not a good mix !
Sunset didn't quite happen as I'd hoped but it didn't detract from the sheer pleasure of being there . A few more shots & I carefully retraced my steps from the alcove to the banking & started back up the steps . I glanced across to the town & saw some beautiful reflections in the sea from the painted houses , too far away to use the 17-55 so I put the 70-200 on the D300s , framed up & fired a couple shots off .The lens was at full reach so I wasn't hopeful of anything more than record shots but to be honest , I wasn't bothered . Just being there & seeing it was enough . I turned & set the tripod up for a couple more shots of the mountain then wandered back to the bridge across the top & saw some horses . Not close enough for the shots I wanted but I spent a pleasant hour just watching them & taking the odd shot .
By this time the sun had started to rise again and was lighting the top of the distant mountains , the wind had dropped & reflection in the lake caught my eye . Again using the big lens I fired off a couple shots not really caring if they worked or not , it was enough simply to see it . Eventually I packed up & headed back to the van where the others had already turned in . Not feeling sleepy at all I made a few notes on the tablet & dozed for a couple of hours, the light helping to keep me awake.
I think it was about 5.30am when i gave up trying to sleep properley , got up , grabbed my kit & headed out of the van .The sky was still devoid of clouds but was beautifully blue and the wind had died off all together . I walked back across the road , picked my way carefully though the long grass , down on to the pebbled beach area & up on the bank with it's shorter grass & moss carpet being careful to avoid Artic Terns nests ( thse birds are incredibly protective & dive bomb you if you get too close) . The tide was almost in so I managed to capture a couple of shots complete with reflections , the rich greens and browns of the mountain contrasting perfectly with the bright blue sky . A simple shot but one I think works well . The odd car rumbled by on the road but other than that the only sounds to be heard were the birds , it was incredibly peaceful & for the 1st time this trip I began to feel completely relaxed .This may not be heaven but it certainly comes a very close 2nd I imagine . I picked up my gear & headed back across the road where the still water made for some superb reflections of the mountains , again the greens & browns perfectly picked out against the blue sky , sheer bliss . I spent another 1/2 hour capturing some images then headed back to the van where the others had finally woken & had ventured out . In front of the van were some large boulders , a small patch of grass & a stream snaking it's way to the lake . About 7am ish a small group of young children & their teacher ( I guess it was a teacher) appeared & went paddling - these Icelanders are hardy folk ! They seemed oblivious to the photographers , simply enjoying the peace & tranquility & cold water . I really wanted to get some shots of them but felt like I would have been intruding and people photography is really not my thing so I packed up and sat in the van waiting for the others.
We headed off toward the fishing town of Olafsvik in search of fuel & , for the others , breakfast . I'd tucked in to some strawberry Skyr a little earlier so wasn't hungry but i was in need of a loo . At the start of the trip we'd decided to only use the vans toilet as a last resort as none of us fancied empting the cassette ! Whilst waiting for the others at the fuel station I noticed a small group of children happily painting the yellow lines on the road . I'd seen children doing various types of work at other places we'd stopped and , though not certain , I suspect it's the Icelanders way of ensuring their younger generations appreciate their environment & helps to create a feeling of community . They certainly looked far to young to be doing community service ! Maybe I'll ask a local on my next visit . Fueled & fed we headed on to Snaefellsnes National Park , stopping on route at Saxholl , a large crater with an incredible curved metal stairway snaking around it leading to the summit . The weather was hazy but warm so I left the camera & headed up to the summit , just to say I'd done it . Had it been a clearer day or the sky been moody It would have been perfect for a panoramic , as it was I just enjoyed the view at the top & made my way back down. The only shot I really wanted was of the curved stairway & I was lucky in that I managed a couple of shots with no-one around plus a couple with a person on it to give a sense of scale .
Having not slept much the night before I dozed for the next few miles , waking as we pulled in to visitor site with a lighthouse & sea stacks . Time for dinner I felt , so as the others headed off I tucked in to a salad of ham & cheese . Feeling better I grabbed the camera & set off toward the sea stacks , quite a walk but again beautifully peaceful & incredibly warm .The sky was nothing special but I took a few shots , using the polariser to bring out the colors in the rocks & the sea. Back at the van we set off again , this time heading to Arnastapi , a quaint little village right on the sea's edge where the others grabbed a cup of coffee & a bun whilst I brewed a cuppa in the van , trying to conserve my funds .We drove the van down as close as we could to the sea & all went off wandering . A small harbour with almost perfect reflections from a small group of fishing vessels , a little cove reached by a rocky descent over moss & seaweed covered rocks , stunning views across the sea to the distant mountains and thousands of seabirds nesting on the cliffs, the place was simply perfect & the 18 degree heat made it even more so. I was glad I'd packed lightweight trousers though I hadn't packed summer socks....thermal socks in walking boots were getting a little uncomfortable !
A couple of hours later we said goodbye to Arnastapi & headed off to Budir & the Little Black Church . I belive , though may be incorrectly , there are only a couple of Black Church's in Iceland , they usually seem to be white or cream with roofs in green , deep red or blue . My last visit had seen grey lifeless skies, today bought blue skies, sunshine & the occasional fluffy white cloud .There were plenty of visitors there but using the Lee 10 stop ensured they didn't intrude in the scene . I think it was here that I realised what a slightly surreal place Iceland can be . Having taken all the photo's I wanted I stood simply drinking in the atmosphere ......18 degree heat, t-shirt weather & picking up a tan whilst looking at a mountain behind the church that was still covered in snow .
From here we headed down the road toward Borganes , a fairly large city where others decided they needed to find food , which we failed to do so carried on back on Route one toward , or so I thought , Glymur . Instead they opted to take a trip through the tunnel toward Grundarhverfi . A shame really as road 47 past Glymur , skirted along the waters edge with it's superb reflections and was generally quieter than Route 1 . A stop at a roadside cafe /fuel stop saw hotdogs & tea purchased and we then headed in to Pingvellir National Park . Not a place I'd visited before so I was excited to see the place . We pulled in to car park that looked a good place for an overnight stop & I wandered off , up the side of a hill to see what was about . I could hear water & sure enough a waterfall came in to view , Oxararfoss , which was one of the places I'd wanted to see . Back to the van to let everyone know , I grabbed my bag & headed off up the path this time, a few steps & on to a newly installed decking walkway which lead to the waterfall . The light wasn't good , a huge bank of cloud had been hanging around for most of the day & was now moving in so chances of a sunset were slim . I took a few record shots & headed back toward the van & the toilet block . Iceland is very good at providing toilets in the most unexpected places , generally always clean & free to use .
I headed up the path in the opposite direction away from the van & realised that I had actually been here before , a couple of years ago with my good friend Rob when we came in hope of seeing the Northern Lights . 2 small streams flowed through the greenery , fed by a couple of smaller waterfalls which were reached by 3 bridges but with the light fading I stayed on the main path heading toward the small church . To my left were a series of pools sunk deep in the rocks, crystal clear water allowing you to almost see the bottom where in places coins had been thrown in. The pools were a dive site, underwater caves to be explored by those brave enough to dive , I presume in drysuits & indeed a sign written van from local dive school pulled in to the car park as I walked though . The sun was trying hard to give a sunset as I walked along the road , trying to find a suitable spot to capture the scene , faint hues of red and pink starting to show above the bank of cloud in the distance . Finding a likely spot i fired off a couple of shots , nothing stunning but a good reminder of the place and the view . The midges were out in abundance but they weren't biting which was a relief , they usually treat me as a 3 course meal ! The cloud had really started to come down so i walked back to the church , took a couple of shots then wandered back to the van .
It was , as i expected, in darkness so I opened the door as quietly as i could , trying not to wake the sleepers . A voice caught me off guard & frightened the crap out of me , I'd been in my own little world & not expected it....apparently the local warden had come calling asking us to move on . The boys were still out & about so I agreed to wait & let them know . They arrived about 10 mins later so we headed of to find a campsite . Generally you can park up almost anywhere in Iceland without any problems but apparently in Pingvellir National park you're only permitted to stop at official campsites , more homework needed for the next visit . We pulled in to a car park opposite the 1st campsite we came across & settled down for the night . I think i managed about 3 hours sleep on & off this time , the cushions still playing havoc with my hips & around 5am I gave up & went over to the toilets . I figured that we may have to pay for the stopover so decided to grab a shower whilst I was there .The showers were more " normal" this time in that they were fully enclosed with a roof , which was nice :-) Lashings of hot water later , all sourced naturally from underground & I felt more human .There were a few campers on the site but no-one was about, all still snuggled up in their tents and vans , quite sensible in my view .
Back at the van the others had woken & we decided to head off to find a car wash or at least , the icelandic equivalent . Having had a week of rain & dirt tracks the van was looking decidely shabby & rather than risking a 150 euro cleaning charge on it's return we wanted to clean it . Laugarvatan passed without notice , road 36 leading us to Selfoss and breakfast . I had my normal helping of skyr but treated my self to a cuppa & sandwich at the lovely coffee shop we stopped at after a couple of trips up and down the high street . A few hundred yards down the road we pulled in to a fuel station where someone spotted a local jet washing their vehicle . Someone got out & attempted a conversation whch resulted in , we think , being told there was no charge for using the jet wash...result ! An hour later the van had been returned to it's sparkling former self , the interior was treated to a quick hoover & we were off again
. The plan was a little less clear for today , the only definite was a trip to the Blue Lagoon baths . We stopped briefly in Porlakshofn for some photo's of the Artic Terns then headed back toward Hafnarfjordur in seach of the illusive green boulder beach that we'd failed to find when we 1st arived . A combination of satnav & google maps guided us to a dead end road at the edge of the golf course . Sitting in the van wasn't going to find the boulders so I headed off in search . Following the path between the greens I aimed for the sea , behind the shooting range & out on to lava rocks that skirted the sea & beach getting some rather odd & curious looks from the golfers . The tide was neither in nor out but i finally found the pebbles or at least , some of them . The grey skies were'nt helping & there weren't enough boulders to make a photo worth taking but at least I now know the location for my next trip . So much unfinished business I might need another 2 or 3 trips !
The Blue Lagoon was next on the list & as we pulled in to the rather busy carpark I realised I'd actually stayed in the Blue lagoon Hotel on my prior trip with Rob but hadn't realised just how close we were to the Baths...and by close I mean , literally next door ! As with many places in Iceland ,The Lagoon is unndergoing a programme of expansion to cope with the ever increasing number of tourists , essential I'm sure but a little saddening . 3 of the others headed inside to indulge in the baths & I headed off to get some shots of the startlingly vibrant aqua blue waters . Sunshine would have helped the color pop a little more but I managed the shots I wanted & helped a couple of Japanese visitors get their selfie shots so quite happy .