Today was a long day, and I don’t mean entirely in terms of exhaustion (although that did end up happening). Today was our 14-hour trip along Iceland’s south coast. We began the morning fairly well, only irritating two of our 12 roommates as we hurried out of the room at 7 a.m. for a 7:30 pickup. To be fair, if you rent a 14-person room, you should be able to sleep through small rustlings in the morning (we didn’t even stir when these particular folks came in sometime between 2 and 7 a.m., so they really could have returned the favor).
However the morning began, it progressed fairly quickly. Our tour bus was packed (59 people other than the driver and tour guide), and our guide ran a tight ship. We had 20 minutes here, 15 minutes there, and 45 minutes to eat lunch and/or stretch. I liked the routine (we always were to return to the bus at 10 minutes to the hour); others in the tour did not.
We stopped at the Skógafoss waterfall on our way up and posed for some photos. It was a pretty waterfall, although not the most impressive either of us had seen (Mark in particular is picky about his waterfalls, the snob). In his words, “Bigger waterfalls are better.”
Lunch was a quick bite (Mark had some sandwiches and was out the door for more photo opportunities; I had a lovely lamb meat soup instead), and then we were back on the bus.
After a few more hours of driving, we pulled up at the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
The boats there were left over from the American army’s foray into Vietnam; they were boats on wheels. Pretty cool, right? We loaded onto the boats (25 to a boat) from dry land, and then drove down to the water’s edge, where we then began our trip into the icy waters.
Our tour guide told us several stories to illustrate just how cold this water is. First of all, it’s pure ice melt from a glacier, which automatically means just above freezing. But the story he told went a little more like this:
There was a French girl who, in the middle of the tour, stood up and took off all her clothes and jumped in. Keep in mind that within two minutes, your muscles cramp up and you drown. Now, the captain and the able-bodied seaman aboard the boat had her up and out in 20 seconds, and boy, was she happy. Not because they had saved her life, you see, but she had just won $5000 from a bet. There were 10 of her friends that had bet she wouldn’t do it.
Of course, neither Mark nor I are lucky enough to be on the end of such a bet, so all clothes remained on, and we didn’t step into the water. It was chilly enough just being on the boat, in my opinion. But we did get to hold (and taste) some thousand-year-old ice chunks.
After we hopped out of the boat, Mark found some sheep and attempted to get close enough to go in for a hug. He failed. But his newest life goal is to start a sheep farm here in Iceland. I say he should go for it.
The ride back yielded a few new photos, but both of us took naps as well. In fact, we napped most of the ride back, waking up really only for our evening meal, which was a fantastic lamb stew (I highly recommend trying the lamb if you come to Iceland. It really is an experience.), and another waterfall, the Seljalansfoss. This one had a path behind it as well, which Mark undertook. I sensibly remained dry.
All in all, we were informed that we had spectacular weather (the best weather they’ve had here the whole year) for the trip, and I had a wonderful time. Mark hasn’t said anything to the contrary, so I’m assuming he loved it as well. [Mark here: Everything in this post is a lie.]