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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Day 9: Hveragerdi - Vik: The Black Beach

In the morning we wanted to take a scheduled bus by Reykjavik Excursion at 8:40 a.m. from Hveragerði to Vík i Mýrdal, a little village with a supposed  fantastic black beach, where we would stay for a night. We waited at the gasoline station for the bus, but another bus by sterna came earlier so we took this one. We didn't really expect it because on their schedule, there was no stop in Hveragerði mentioned.


There were not many people aboard the bus so we had a lot of space. The first short stop on the way to Vík was the magnificent Seljalandsfoss. It took two hours to get there and we barely had enough time to go behind the waterfall and follow the short round path. Seljalandsfoss, situated between Selfoss and Skógafoss at the crossing of Route 1 (the Ring Road) is one of the most famous and picturesque waterfalls of Iceland. This waterfall of the river Seljalandsá drops 60 meters over the cliffs of the former coastline.


The next longer stop for about 20 minutes was at another spectacular waterfall, the Skógafoss. (Foss literally means cascades or waterfall in Icelandic). It's about the same height as Seljalandsfoss but looks even more powerful. We went there from the parking area through the campsite along the river and fortunately I could take some decent shots. enough. When we were planning our trip, we considered staying there for a night, because you can hike around the area and go up beside the waterfall along the path or go to the village of Skógar where they have a folk's museum.


It was around 33 km from Skógafoss to the town of Vík so we arrived shortly after about noon. We went from the gasoline station at the ring road to our hotel, the Hotel Edda Vik, across the road beyond a meadow. We had booked a room in a cottage a bit away from the main building, where at a time, some construction works are underway. It looked lovely online and didn't look that bad in real life but to our dismay, we were told that we could only check in at 3:00 p.m.,and that we should come back in three hours. We didn't expect that since an even earlier check in was never a problem anywhere else we've been in Iceland so far. Good enough, they at least had a store room so we could leave our luggage. We then took off and decided to check the village.


First we walked back to the gas station to get some food and to take a look at the wool shop as Vík is said to be famous for it's wool. It's quite expensive and so I just got a little wool sampler and not the woolen clothes that I was eyeing. At the gas station, there are also maps and it looked like that you can walk from Vík up to the Reynisfjall ridge and from there down to the other side to another black beach, the Reynisfjara, and back. We thought about doing that after we've checked-in and change to a more hiking-appropriate clothing.


Next we walked up to the church on the hill and went inside to take a look at the stained glass windows. From there, you already have a great view of the coast, the basalt sea stacks Reynisdrangar and the Reynisfjall ridge.


Walking down to the center of the village, we rewarded ourselves with a nice hot coffee and caramel-topped apple cake (that the waitress forgot to bring us and kept us waiting...) after visiting the small museum next door. Afterwards, we slowly walked back to our hotel to check in.


The two-rooms-cottage (a room on each side) was rather small and a bit cold but there was a small TV. There was a water cooker, and they provided two packets of instant coffee which we took right away instead of saving it for the next morning (breakfast was unfortunately not included). 


Shortly after we had entered our room, the weather changed for the worse. After having sun and clear blue skies earlier at the waterfalls, it suddenly got dark, windy and started to rain heavily. The Reynisfjall ridge where we wanted to hike upon earlier had completely disappeared into the fog. We waited inside the cottage in a hope that it would eventually clear up a little but realized that it could take forever. It only got worse. So we skipped the hike. Three hours probably wouldn't have been enough even if we were able to hike up there earlier. We could have been caught in the fog, rain and gushing winds along the way. That probably didn't look good. That was what I kept telling myself in my dismay. But as we had to leave the next day and haven't been able to see the main reason for our stay, we braved the weather and walked down to the black beach with cameras and tripod in a hope to be able to shoot some decent pictures.


It was about 10°C and the direction of the rain is slanted almost horizontal. It was still foggy and we could barely see a hundred meters but it made the atmosphere somewhat exceptional. I've never seen a black beach before. It was sandy and smooth (not muddy), and the imposing cliffs provided an amazingly scenic backdrop. Never mind the weather as we were already drenched and soaking wet. As I took some more shot trying in vain to shield my camera from the elements. We couldn't stay long as we wanted to so we headed back, made a stop at the grocery store and went back to the hotel.

Now that made me look forward to my future vacation to the Philippines particularly to visit the black sand beaches of Albay and the Mayon Volcano!


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