Iceland in Words – Day 4
The fourth day of the trip was a much slower day than the previous ones as I only had three planned stops for this leg. These included the lagoon Jökulsárlón and two towns Höfn and Djupivogur (where I would be staying for the night).
Due to the advice I had received the previous day, I was once again on the road about as early as breakfast would allow. The advice was definitely helpful, just not in the ways I expected. As it turned out, there were no tour buses scheduled to visit Jökulsárlón that day, at least not that I saw. Additionally, the early morning like every other day, was overcast and the lighting just wasn’t quite what the Coloradan couple had described. However, getting there as early as I did allowed me to spend over four hours at the lagoon.
Jökulsárlón is a lagoon with the ocean to its south and the glacier Vatnajökull to the north. This results in a lagoon full of icebergs of varying size, as well as a beach on the ocean where several others have escaped the lagoon only to wash up on shore. It truly is a remarkable sight.
Not long after arriving at Jökulsárlón, I met a couple from New York. Or should I say ran into, as I am fairly certain they were one of the two couples that shared the shuttle from the hotel to the car rental agency in Reykjavik. Right around this time I was fortunate to see a seal at the entrance to the lagoon. Apparently they like to go hunting in the lagoon.
Jökulsárlón was just as beautiful as the pictures I’d seen when planning my trip. There were icebergs everywhere including a few blue ones, one of which was fairly massive. Between the lagoon and the long stretch of beaches I could have stayed at Jökulsárlón the entire day. It was all extremely calming and spectacular.
Once again my guidebooks led me astray slightly by saying the boat tours in the lagoon were only open until September 15th. Just as with Fjaðrárgljúfur, I am glad the books were wrong. We couldn’t get too close to the icebergs, but to be out among them was amazing. We ran into my seal friend again, though only briefly. We also learned that the blue icebergs are caused by the compression of pure snow into ice (typically found in glacial ice). The blue ones actually appear that way because they have not been exposed to the open air for very long. In fact, the large one mentioned earlier had just flipped over the day before. Toward the end the tour, we were also given the opportunity to hold and then eat some 10,000 old ice. Interestingly, although the glacier is that old the lagoon has only been around for 80 years. It actually grew about 20 kilometres between the 1600s and 1900.
On the boat tour I met a girl from New Zealand and a guy from Japan. I’m not sure how they organized it, but along with a third guy from Canada they had rented a car to see south Iceland together despite not knowing each other prior. It was somewhat evident as the girl was your typical tourist to Iceland: enthusiastic and photo happy, while the Japanese guy was somewhat interested though he seemed more intent on throwing rocks at this or that. I never actually met the other Canadian as he spent most of the time napping in their car or pacing around the parking lot. I found out while having lunch with them that he had been travelling for 10 months and was feeling kind of broke, and from the sounds of it the girl had seen a good chunk of the island via similar ventures. I hadn’t even been able to decide to bring someone I knew on my trip with me, I don’t think I could ever plan to travel that long with complete strangers.
It was after lunch that I began my afternoon of driving from Jökulsárlón to my hotel in Djupivogur. As mentioned, there didn’t seem to be much along the way, though I did make some random stops for pictures as well as a brief stop in the fishing port of Höfn. Throughout my trip, my guidebooks seemed to make a big deal about just about every town I came across in my journey. It may just be that the towns weren’t the reason I went to Iceland or maybe it was the extent to which the books talked them up, but I found them underwhelming.
Upon arriving at Djupivogur, I had intended to go for a decent sized hike, but due to my extended stay at Jökulsárlón it was once again approaching dusk when I arrived at my lodgings. I did go for a walk around the town and ventured to the edges of the Djupivogur Bulandsnes famous for its plentiful number of birds, but the trails just didn’t seem well enough marked to go too far so late in the day.
Highlight of the Day: Without a doubt the best part of the day was Jökulsárlón. In fact it may just be my favourite part of the entire trip. That is probably evident from the amount of time I spent there, but it was too beautiful not to spend a minute less among the icebergs.
Lunch: This was one of the few days that I actually had lunch and consisted seafood soup at Jökulsárlón. It was nowhere near as good as the lobster soups I’d had earlier in the trip, but it was still pretty good. Best yet, it also came with unlimited refills.
Dinner: Opting for a less expensive meal than in previous days, I chose a speciality pizza served by the hotel. I just had to try a pizza that had salmon, shrimp, mussels, tomatoes, onions, and blue cheese on it, and I must say it was really good. The couple from New York had a more traditional beef pizza, and actually claimed it was the best pizza they’d ever had.