Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Iceland Trip, Day 7 - Of Lobsters and Lagoons

(This is part nine of a series of posts about our 2011 trip to Iceland. Here are the first, secondthirdfourthfifth , sixth, seventh , and eighth posts.)

Iceberg lagoon
Iceberg lagoon vista

Sadly, we were scheduled to leave Skaftafell the next day. I could have easily stayed a week, but other sites awaited us. After packing up, a short individual hikei, and a brief breakfast in the visitor center cafeii-Got up and packed up, drove out to visitor center. Had brief breakfast in the café (my compatriots had yet another morning of musli and Skyr. I opted for a chocolate croissant and coffee. Despite their steadfast devotion to their trail food, I think there may have been a few covetous glances my way.)

Our drive took us northeast up the coast, which had transitioned back from the endless flatness of the Sandar to the rugged coastal greenery of earlier daysiiiThe destination for the day was the famous Jokulsarlon iceberg lagooniv. We stopped along the way to see a pair of Whooper Swans, and spent a bit of time at a smaller iceberg lagoon. The sheer bridled energy of the icebergs calving off became apparent when we heard what sounded like thunder, and saw a massive chunk of ice wall calve off into the lagoon a mile or so away. In a few moments, the water, up till then mirror still, rose precipitously in a large series of waves. I watched as a dead sheep along the bank was floated off by the artificial tide. I think there was some symbolism there, but I’m not sure what it is. Probably an old Icelandic saying like “Calving icebergs float all dead sheep”, or something…

swans Glacier
Mountain and
landscape (B&W) Icebergs
Ice and
Whooper Swans, Glacier in the mist, Mountain and Ice, Lagoon landscape, Icebergs, Ice and Stone

Unfortunately, the fantastic weather we’d had up until this point began to break a bit, and clouds and light rain moved in, prompting us to move on to Jokulsarlon. After lunch at the tourist cafev we spent some time watching seals play in and around the icebergs, which stretched on to the horizon. Needless to say, pictures were taken.

Blue Ice
overhang Unidentified
abstracts Iceberg
Alligator Iceberg
Submarine Great
Jouklsarlon Lagoon, Blue Ice overhang, Seal, Iceberg abstracts, Alligator in the Ice, Iceberg Submarine, Great Skua, Ice forms.

Our camping area for the night was a small bed and breakfast on a working farm, whose grassy meadow overlooked a truly fantastic seascape. Once we got everthing set up , we drove northeast to the coastal town of Hofn. Along the way, we stopped to photograph a pastoral scene of old farmhouse ruins. Just as I had set up and was taking pictures, a herd of wild Icelandic horses came running through the scenevi. Minds sufficiently blown, we continued on for dinner in Hofn.

Old farmstead
(B&W)  Hill of
horsesStorm over
Ruins  Storm and
Storm, Ruins,
Coastal cliffs, Old Farmstead, Hill of horses, Storm over ruins, Storm and horses, Horses pacing the storm

Hofn is known for its langoustine lobster, so we found a nice cozy restaurant and treated ourselves to a wonderful dinner of langoustine lobster tails. Of all the local food we tried, this was definitely the highlight. There was even local beer, brewed with glacial water and alpine thyme.
Properly sated, we headed back down the coast to our campsite. On the way, the clouds opened up and the moon lit up an amazing watery scene in misty, ethereal lightvii and ghostly reflections.

A dream of
water, earth, and sky     A dream of
water, earth, and sky

A dream of
water, earth, and sky (B&W)
Hazy light, Reflections, A Dream of Earth Water and Sky


i Ok, I admit it, I was birding. That being said, I added a new species, Common Redpoll.

ii My compatriots opted for a sixth morning of musli and skyr. I opted for a fresh chocolate-filled croissant, coffee,

iii Though with many more glaciers in view, arms of Vatnajokul branching out everywhere. It says something of the scenery of a place when glaciers start to lose their impact on your visual threshold.

iv Well, famous at least in that it’s recognizeable even if one doesn’t realize what/where it is. It’s been in a dozen movies, most notable a recent James Bond movie. Much to my disappointment, however, we did not get to race Aston-Martins on the icy surface of the lagoon, dodging icebergs and bullets. Must only happen in winter when the lagoon freezes over…

v Including yet another dissappointing “traditional Icelandic soup”, listed as a seafood chowder, but executed as a genereic broth lacking any relation to actual seafood. Also, as a side note, new bird species Snow Bunting and Parasitic Jaegar/ Arctic Skua observed here.

vi I missed what might have been the most amazing pictures of the trip simply because the scene in front of me blew my mind to such a degree I forgot to keep clicking. It was like the cover of some new age celtic cd or something…old ruins, galloping horses, mountains and storm clouds, and verdant fields.

vii We, of course, stopped to take pictures despite the hour and fullness of our stomachs.

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