After meeting up for coffee with lovely CouchSurfers Katrin and
Lilleth, I decided to take advantage of the fact that I had the next
three days unplanned (really, a week in Iceland is a LONG time) and
book two tours. I really wanted to go glacier hiking, but decided I'll
leave that to next trip and booked the South Shore Adventure and Golden
Circle. Each took about 8-10 hours and were on one of those annoyingly
large tour buses with, I presume, a lot of annoying American tourists
and some slightly less annoying Aussies. You can see I was pumped.
went to meet Hanna and James at their place and, SURPRISE, James didn't
have to work on Wednesday or Thursday and was more than willing to
drive me around the island/country (could these people BE any nicer?
Unfortunately, I had just forked over $250 in tours. That's OK,
James says, we'll just go to tourist office and get your money
back. Um, I highly doubted that was going to happen, but I was willing
to try. He said I should tell them someone in the family had died, but
really, I'm one for karma and that never bodes well, so I opted for the
"my company is flying me back earlier," no further explanation, and lo
and behold, they gave me my money back!
if you are going to Iceland and have the opportunity, I would highly
recommend renting a car and driving the routes we did, as opposed to
taking the tourist bus. Not only did we see so much more - and at our
leisure - but it actually costs less (much less for me, as I had a
guide and car, I only had to pay for gas).
But even if you rent a car, it's less than tours here.
can find even one or two others, you are definitely getting your
we stopped at the magnificent waterfall Seljalandsfoss, where you can
actually climb behind, and just as we got there, the ever-present rain
halted, giving us ample chance to enjoy the beauty and snap some shots.
A few stray rainbows completed the experience. But I found no
leprechauns. Maybe next trip back.
After that, we continued to
drive along the south coast and stopped at the next waterfall,
Skógafoss, but the spray was so intense from this one that we were
thoroughly drenched by the time we made it back to the car (note: if
you go along the South Shore, take a change of clothes!).
Our next stop was the glacier Sólheimajökull.
Seeing as it was more or less pouring by this time, Hanna stayed
in the car while James and I ventured closer.
I'd never seen a glacier
before and wanted to be able to say I'd stepped foot on one. Well, step
foot we did, then James spotted a ridge at the very top that connected
the glacier to a rock mountain and thought it wise to climb it. I was a
little weary, considering two German tourists had been lost for dead
doing the same thing just weeks ago. But not one to back down on a
challenge, I followed. It took us a little over an hour to get up, and
the views were incredible, despite the rain. Getting back down was a
feat, and Hanna had said if we were gone another 10 minutes, she would
have alerted the Rescue Patrol.
final stop was Vík, where we unfortunately didn't get to witness the
black sands and rock formations, because a proper Iceland rain had set
in at this point. The weather here really is so tempestuous, as I
mentioned before, that you can't bank on anything.