When I mentioned to Kyle that I was going to post a bit more about Iceland, he said, “Are you going to write about Puffins, and the black sand beaches, and the waterfalls, and how I’m the best travel companion ever?”
Yep, pretty much.
With wrapping things up at my old job (that feels so weird to say!) and preparing some things to start my new gig (two days!!), I didn’t feel like I had much time to mentally prepare for this trip. I had perused some travel books a couple of months ago, but Kyle was the one who actually made the more detailed plans regarding car rental and hotels, and generally mapped out what our week was going to look like. He did an excellent job – I think we saw so much for the amount of time we had – ergo, he is not only the best travel companion ever, he’s also a stellar travel planner.
So, on to Kyle’s list as referenced above: waterfalls. If ever in Iceland, the top three things you will likely see/hear/read the most about are: volcanoes, glaciers, and waterfalls. They are all over! We drove almost the entirety of the southern portion of the island, and the topography is essentially: ocean, sandflats, steep rock cliffs, glaciers. Thus, those rock cliffs provide excellent opportunity for some magnificent water falls from the glaciers above them.
“Foss” means “falls,” if you didn’t pick that up already. 🙂
Probably the best part of the trip, was when we finally saw puffins. It was our last night and we were staying very near the southernmost point of mainland Iceland near these beautiful black sand beaches (thanks, lava!). Around 11:00 p.m., I went to bed, and Kyle decided to head back to Dyrhólaey – a black sand peninsula nearby to get some more photos. He found the area gated, as it closes at night, but ran into a local gentleman who was there to hunt foxes. The two started talking (largely about hunting), and then Kyle asked if the man knew where a good spot to see puffins was. He did, and directed Kyle a few kilometers away to this service road (four-wheel drive vehicles only!), and the cliff side just beneath it.
Kyle followed the gentleman’s instructions, though had to climb most of the way up the hill because our blessed little Nissan rental car was most definitely not equipped with four-wheel drive. He indeed saw a number of puffins resting on this cliff side and then decided to come and wake me up to go see them.
It was probably best that I wasn’t fully awake when Kyle dragged me out of bed for this little excursion, or else I very likely would have protested as he began scrambling on all fours up this VERY steep and VERY wet (either from the dew, or simply from the fact that Iceland is ALWAYS wet) hillside. Fortunately, this cliff-side had random puffs of grass-like plant matter growing, so in the event you began to slip to your untimely death, you could attempt a last-ditch lunge for one of these grass-clumps, and hope to all of the saints in heaven that you somehow actually got a hold on one, therefore saving your life and the lives of all of your yet-to-come-into-existence descendents forever and ever amen.
Our two-hour climb-viewing-climb-viewing-descent (“Contrary to popular belief, most falls occur on the descent, not the ascent, Jules! Be careful!” Oh, gee thanks.) was fabulous. These birds are an odd mix of beauty and cuteness, and when they fly, their wings flap so rapidly, they look persistently panic-stricken. (Perhaps they, too, were questioning their decision to ascend to such a high and dangerous perch!!). And the colors of their feet and beaks are amazingly vibrant – a stark contract to the otherwise fairly mute color palate around them this time of year.
Well, I think I covered the main points of Kyle’s travel thesis: waterfalls, Puffins, black sand beaches, his exemplary travel companionship. I’m realizing though that I haven’t even given a mention to the great city of Reykjavík. Perhaps I’ll write a third installation of our trip. Stand by.