Iceland – South

Iceland in many parts.

South Iceland

This blog will be way too long if I do the entire trip in one hit.  We’re 13 days here.  Or 11 full days, which is equal to Bath, Wales, Edinburgh and London put together.

Some info about Iceland used in my blog.  I will on occasion try and ‘phonetically spell’ out some names for you.  I won’t do it in the ‘true and proper dictionary’ type of way, but relate them to sounds we use in our own dialect, so you can try and get a feel for the words without having to gloss over them too much.  Test yourself and read it out aloud.  To start you off, I’ll give you one of the easiest being the capital city of Reykjavik. You would pronounce it ‘ray’-‘ka’-‘vik’ with a longer y in ray.  so it’s like rayy-ka-vik.  But don’t draw out the ‘y’ too long. That’s just silly right?  Americans say ‘wreck’-‘a’-‘via’, we don’t.

Where I have remembered, I have added google links to the blog so you can see where exactly we were.

General terms:
Foss = Waterfalls
Jökull = Glacier
Vatn = Water

Costs: Icelandic Kroner (ISK KR) is the currency here.  100KR is roughly $AU1.10.  So 1000KR is about $11 or so.  We basically treated the KR as 1000KR = $10 and knew we lost a bit on the way.

So our journey begins.

Day 1

Day 1 – Keflavik to an old farmhouse by Eyjafjallajökull

We arrived in Keflavik International Airport.  I’ve been here twice before.  Arrived once by myself in June 2010 (Jane was with family on the Isle of Wight) so I spent a week by myself before she met me here.  I arrived at 11pm that day and it was still light.  A surprise for me than, as different to when we arrived in 2012/13 where it was dark for all but 4-5 hours in the day.

The second time was with Jane and Geoffrey when we arrived in late December at about the same time. It was very dark, because it was the middle of winter.

Both times the airport was almost empty. Arriving at 4:30 (1 hour plane delay) the airport was full.  It was like London!  6 planes worth of luggage on 1 baggage belt.  Some people had waited for about an hour for their luggage apparently.  We waited about half that time.

We met our 4WD pickup person after a phone call and sorted out the car (a Toyota Landcruiser that had already done 255,000km) and we started our journey – to Keflavik, the town, or as it’s actually known – Reykjanesbær.  I’ll call it Keflavik, they’re interchangeable I believe.

Iceland_002Settling in to our home above a fast food cafe.  (You’ll see another angle in the final Iceland  blog).

Being above the ice-cream and fast food place the house was quite warm, although it was cool outside (around 10°C). We f0und our key and dropped our luggage.  Hafnagata is the main ‘strip’ of Keflavik, and found a hotel/restaurant called Rain.  A great lookout into the sea.

Travel Tip:
 I’ll say at the outset.  If you go to Iceland, be prepared for the cost of food to be up to double what you would pay in Australia. It’s really hard to get used to this cost.  $45-50 for a steak is something we aren’t keen on paying for, but this is what it is.    Soft drinks for up to $10 for a can!  We found the best way to deal with cost of food is to go to supermarkets like Bónus, Netto & Krónan.  grisThis is generally more possible if you are staying somewhere where you can have your own kitchen and can prepare you won meals.  Quite often the takeaway food is pretty average too.  Be prepared.

Settling in for the night, hitting the hay at around 11:30 pm, it was like 7-8pm at home during our summer.   Very light indeed.

The shore of the Keflavik on Hafnargata (the road) was a wonderful mix of playgrounds, reserves, sculptures and even a set of 4 coloured panels.  I used one as a ‘photo gel’ of the shoreline.  I did this late in the evening while it was still sunny.


View through a blue gel on the shore of Keflavik


The trip begins


The following morning was our first full driving day.  Starting off at Keflavik and visiting the Troll Cave down the road (with a real sleeping troll).  We hadn’t driven 2 minutes until we had our first experience….  Once we left the town, we travelled  50 minutes to Krýsuvík for a real visual treat and of course a nasal one too, with the sulphur filled pockets of gas filling the landscape.  Climbing to near the top of the hill, we had some great views of the landscape and took a deep breath to soak in the wonderful views around us.  Then we coughed..  The sulphur stunk and we were to have the smell on our clothes at least until we threw them in the wash later that day.

Because we took our time getting moving in the morning it was pretty much already lunch time.  An hour at Krýsuvík (Map) and another 50 minutes to Selfoss (the 3rd largest city in Iceland of 6,500) we stopped for lunch at the wonderful Kaffi Krús.  After my entire trip around Iceland, this is still one of my favourite places for food.  Such wonderfully friendly service.

With a tummy full of soup, we moved on to Waterfalls.  But before I do…

Travel Tip: Many (or most) of the cafe’s have a “Soup of the day”.  This is usually the cheapest option and is usually ‘refillable’ and comes with bread.  The soups vary from Mushroom, to Seafood (yum), zucchini or plenty of other choices, but if you’re lucky, Meat Soup (Lamb and vegetables) is on the menu.  Meat soup is very very icelandic and should always be had if it is on the menu.  In Selfoss I had a wonderful seafood soup (2 bowls) and was delicious. The cost of a “soup of the day” is often around the 1300-1400 KR versus 2000 KR (for the same soup on the menu.

Iceland_011 Seljalandsfoss (Map)  is one of the first waterfalls people will see when visiting Iceland.  It’s a bit over 60 metres high and a uniqueness to this fall is that you can walk around it from front to back (if you don’t mind getting a bit of spray on you).  Or in the case of Jane and Julia, getting completely drenched.. But they loved it!  My first real opportunity to use the tripod I carted all the way around the world. Seljalandsfoss  is not the most powerful or spectacular of the falls, but it is certainly is beautiful.  It is also one of the most popular because it’s directly on the tourist route only about 30-40 minutes for Reykjavik.  You’ll always find busloads of tourists here.
Jane and Julia hit the tourist shop at this location, Trevor and I finished up with our shots and we continued our journey to our accomodation.
Travel Tip: Locating places or even where you are.
Things you’ll need.  Satnav, GPS coordinates, a phone card with data, an offline mapping app like Here Maps. (iPhone – Google Play) and make sure you download the maps before you get to your destination.  You won’t always have access to data.
You cannot rely on the name of a location.  Iceland often has the same name of a place 2 or 3 times across the country.  For example, it takes 7 hours to drive directly from Selfoss (where we had lunch) to Selfoss the waterfall.  It varies which place the Satnav or Google Maps decides to choose for your destination.

We stayed quite near the volcano that erupted in 2010, Eyjafjallajökull

Okay we’ll go straight for the big one.
How to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull:  ‘Ay’ – ‘ya’ – ‘fyet’ – ‘ya’ – ‘yo’ – ‘ckl’.  The ‘ckl’ is a bit of a twister as you need to finish the sound with your tongue in your teeth like you have a lisp.  The end is definitely the hard part.  As I said above,  jökull means Glacier.  The name of this volcano actually means “volcano under a glacier”, which is why it was so explosive in it’s eruption and also why it’s harder for us to say.  In Icelandic (the way I understand it anyway) when you are saying Glacier, you say “jökull” or ‘yo’-‘cool’ (that’s a short ‘yo’ as in yoyo, not a ganster ‘yo’. and the “kull” is like a mixture between ‘cull’ and ‘cool’.  Another short sound and with an accent like when a German or scandanavian person says cool.  However when you are talking about it in a name, it’s jökli, which has the ‘yo’ – ‘ckl’ sound.  Check out the many icelandic pronunciations on Youtube to get this perfect.  I hope that helps somewhat, and I think I got it right.

Iceland_015So….  We arrived at our great little farmhouse under Eyjafjallajökull.  (Map). Like we did the previous night, we dropped our bags off and went for another drive. This time to see a larger waterfall Skógafoss.  I didn’t know this at the time, and wish I did.  Skógafoss (Map) falls off of the cliffs that used to be the Icelandic coastlines.  But as the island has grown, the cliffs are now 5km in from the edge.  Such is Iceland and it’s volcanic past, present and future.  It’s a large waterfall with a height of about 60 metres and width of about 25 metres. A roaring sound of this foss that is as loud as it is powerful.  There were a large amount of tourists in this area as well, but with slow shutter speeds and a bit of photoshop, they have all disappeared.  To give you a size comparison, I have left a few people in the photo, such as those on top and (way too) close to the edge.



And that ends Day 1.

  • At the base of a Volcano / Glacier that could erupt at any time, causing havoc to so many in 2010.
  • In the shadow of a glorious mountain with the sun shining hard on it at 11pm.
  • In a farmhouse on a farm traced back to owners 1000 years ago.
  • A visit to some craters you expect to see on an alien planet, 2 wonderful waterfalls…

… can’t wait for day 2

Kitchen Shot


The Gallery of Day 1


3 comments on “Iceland – South

  1. Pingback: Iceland – Heading East | Steve Hunt

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