Good morning Reykjavik. It’s Friday. Day two. Adventures to have. Ice-land to see.
Friday was wet. It was also extremely dark. As in, 9pm winters evening dark. Black skies and stars still shone above us dark. It’s 10am why is it still dark kinda dark. The dark that makes you think “I wonder how many people in Iceland are depressed.” I looked it up, and it turns out, Icelanders do also deal with SAD just like the rest of us, and now I feel like a right moaner with my ten hours of daylight in winter compared to their five or six.
At 9am, after a hearty first breakfast, we headed out of Reykjavik to the east, towards Pingvallavatn, a National Park just under an hour away from Reyk itself. We drove through the darkness, following other cars along the open road. We formed a snake of traffic, weaving our way through a wilderness which i couldn’t quite see through properly. Mist hung heavy and low in front of us, and that’s where I began to feel the eerieness of the unknown all around. I really did feel like I’d entered another world where I was playing the lead detective, along with the villain and the victim at the same time (naturally). I see where the Scandanavian crime dramas sprout from now. I’m almost ready to write my own armed with my memories of Iceland alone.
We arrived, still under darkness, just before 10am. Buses of tour groups lit the way to the entrance of Pingvallavatn, and we piled out of the car to join them. The weather was beastly, in all honesty, and we ran from the car to the inside of the tourist information centre, which thankfully sold tea and coffee. I’ve never stopped for a tea break before actually embarking on an adventure, but I’m hoping that it proves to you just how wet a dreary the weather was. We needed a tea break before we started.
After perking ourselves up, we headed out into the mist. It was fresh. But it was glorious. It wasn’t too busy, which is by far the most ‘win’ thing you can encounter in a country teeming with tourists. Does anybody else get that completely hypocritical feeling of being a tourist and damning every other tourist you see?
“Why are there so many people around!?!?!?!” – me, every four minutes.
Anyway, we headed off into the gloom, on a hunt for spectacles of nature. To be fair, everything around me appeared to be a spectacle of nature, so it wouldn’t prove to be too difficult.
We descended the slope into Pingvallavatn proper, and high walls of soot-black rock tapered precariously above us, reminded us that we were small, and totally unnecessary. Traversing the pathways lead us straight to foaming mouths of water – miniature waterfalls with a pacey current that one would certainly not do well to fall into. We passed the humble christmas tree in its natural habitat… fir trees that lead into deep forests. Deep green needles lined the branches, creating shelter and calm from the elements above. The grass around us seemed starved. Yellowing blades of grass lined the pathways and lead onto rugged fields, where moss covered rocks jutted out in bulbous ridges.
We reached the Oxarafoss waterfall some thirty minutes after we left base. It was a sight to behold, of course. Fierce power frothed from the peak of the waterfall, falling dangerously onto the rocks below. We spent a disproportionate amount of time taking photos, and were also photographed by a lovely Chinese man who seemed to take an interest in our family outing. I like to think we are being made famous in China as I type this. Who knows.
We continued our tour of the beautiful landscape, coming across a tiny church, alongside four tiny houses. A tiny community indeed. We found a wishing stream, and made our wishes. My boyfriend accidentally said his wish out loud, so who knows if it will come true… To cut a long story short, there was plenty to see at Pingvallvatn.
Our second port of call were the geysers, about a fifteen minute drive further. Even in such damp weather, they were a force of nature too beautiful to fully comprehend. The sulphur smell that had started at the Blue Lagoon re-emerged here too. A dull, headache inducing eggy whiff wafted its way over the landscape. It was, in all honesty, something out of a horror film, with plumes of steam making its way into the grey skies, and a dark blue hue that cast its glow over everything. Even the explosions of the geysers seem other-worldly to me. Incomprehensible. I’ve never seen such milky blue water glazed over such deep craters before. It was spectacular. Naturally, there were many a tourist, and naturally, we all stood in line to video the geyser. Each pop of boiling water took almost three minutes to bust out from the depths below, where it sprayed us directly in the face and we screamed with glee. Tourists are mad, yo!
Our third and final port of call for Friday was the Gullfoss waterfall. More than just a site of natural beauty where water plummets 32 metres tot he depths below, Gullfoss is actual used for creating electricity. The water that flows through Gullfoss waterfall comes straight from the closest glacier, Langjokull. It’s even said that on a sunny day, a rainbow is visible, making this more than just a natural phenomenon.
By our arrival time, Gullfoss was soggy to say the least. The boardwalk had become slippery, and my mascara was halfway (if not further) down my cheeks. We stared in awe at the waterfall until our faces physically couldn’t handle the slapping wind anymore, then retreated back to the cafe, whilst my boyfriend’s parents braved the viewpoint at the top of the waterfall. Needless to say, they came back with even more of that ‘drowned rat chic’ than the other three of us were sporting.
After a hot tea and a little warming up, it was time to hop back into the beast and head home. Since we’d made our way so far out East, our journey home would take around 1.5 hours, and darkness was beginning to loom. We headed back to our apartment full of cheer to play some card games and eat a good hearty meal.