Thursday, August 25, 2016

Home Away From Home

Typical Icelandic day, low clouds, light drizzle from time to time. Today we pick up our camper and what a busy morning it is. We return our car, exchanging it for a Big Campervan, not an RV but about the size of a Sprinter Van.- complete with cabinet holding cooking and eating supplies, small sink, running water from a big jug, and butane campstove. We learn that water anywhere in Iceland is clean amd drinkable, having been filtered numerous times through volcanic rock. The table folds into a bed; it is a very cool unit! We pick up our Trawire wireless hub, buy gas cards (US chip and signature cards do not work at gas pump machines) and food. The grocery store was another example of simplicity with very fresh offerings of produce and meat but center aisles (packaged goods) was a third of our stores- no sugary cereals, no sauces and dressings, no aisle upon aisle of junk food etc. Quite simply, a healthy diet within a store.

We are finally on our way, a little anxious about driving this big thing, and hopes that parking isnt a problem. The plan is to drive counterclockwise around the island on the ring road, which is about 800 miles. Other than taking a few side routes around fjords on the east and west coasts, we will stay on route 1, as the roads going toward the interior are gravel and not recommended for camper vans.  Route 1 or the Ring Road is a 2 lane well maintained road with not much shoulder and rarely a place to pull off for photos. Occasionally, a short section of farm road can be used, but once we stop, everybody else seems to want to stop as well! Heading east outside of town, the terrain changes from lava fields to green farmland with Icelandic sheep and horses. We stop at what is to become my favorite falls thus far, Seljalandsfoss, three falls cascading over a long cliff, the largest of which has a footpath leading to and behind the falls along the carved out rockface. As you walk through, the spray is immense and the view breathtaking. The path leads you out over boulders and down a long staircase.

The second set of falls for the day is Skogafoss with 527 steps leading to the top. Yes, I did climb them but the view is more magnificent from in front. Our last stop is the black sand beach at Reynisfjara along the southern coast near Vik. The tall basalt columns cliffs resemble a rocky step pyramid called Gardar with puffins and sea gulls nesting in the ledges. Once I start taking photos, everybody on the beach has turned their cameras up to the cliffs! The interior walls of a cave are made up of what looks like twisted basalt columns -I promise to share photos. The beach itself has polished smooth black pebbles wet and shiny from the mist. In the distance are sea stacks called Reynisdrangar. Twilight here is long;  darkness does come but not until close to 10pm. 

The campground at Vik, rated one of the poorest in Iceland, truly does leave something to be desired. Essentially several open parking areas with a low wood structure in the middle. Inside are picnic tables where close to 100 young people are crowded together, cooking food over their camp stoves. The assortment of odors is somewhat nauseating. We cook in our camper and bed down for the night in our home away from home.
Campground at Vik


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