Saturday, November 8, 2014

Iceland 2014: Part 2

Day 3, Hótel Fljótshlíð (Countryhotel Smaratun)
Don't mind our untidy room! Forgotten to take it when we first checked in. Lemme tell you guys something. There's no point in blowing/styling up your hair. It will only get messed up by Iceland's ever-changing weather!! Braving the morning breeze to get some photo taken! Fun Fact #1: Do you know that Iceland has more sheep than humans?

Breakfast Buffet
Every hotel provides a similar breakfast buffet. You have cereal, homemade breads, eggs, hams and etc. For us, a simple breakfast would suffice. You're now staring at the volcano that causes enormous disruption to air travel across western and northern Europe in 2010. It was still kinda cloudy in the morning. Hence, the volcano's peak was blocked by the clouds. Driving in Iceland is like watching National Geography Documentary happening right before your eyes.

First Location, Seljalandsfoss
Fun Fact #2: This waterfall was a waypoint during the first leg of The Amazing Race 6. Seljalandsfoss plummets 60m (200ft) to a deep pool below. A footpath will lead you BEHIND the waterfall but... be prepared to get wet! Waterproof Jackets Recommended. One of the few waterfalls that allows you to walk behind it so how can you miss it?!

Second Location, Skógafoss
Skógafoss is on of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland with a width of 25m (82ft) and a drop of 60m (200ft). We could not go any closer because of the combo of wind + water. Ohmy. A challenging task indeed to capture a clear quality photo when you are close to waterfalls!
Fun Fact #3: This is the location for the filming of Thor: The Dark World & The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Third Location, Iceland's South Shore, Dyrhólaey
A magnificent view of all the interesting landmarks from up here and this was only the first perspective. Another perspective from the cliff. We were all taken aback by this remarkable nature and I'm placing it into my "One-of-the-Most-Incredible-Scenery-I've-seen-so-far" list! Seriously, you will fall in love with this place. Still gonna post this gorgeous photo even though I'm eating my hair. You can somewhat predict how strong the wind were by our hairstyle. Hahahaha!!
There's a road for you to get to the beach as well! But when we saw the rough waves crashing into the rocks... we pass~

Fourth Loaction, South Shore, Reynisfjalls
This, right here, is Halsanefshellir Cavern with Amazing Basalt Columns. And, we were walking along the black sand beach! I can totally imagine this backdrop being featured in a fashion shoot or movie set... And 3, 2, 1, ACTION~! Okay. Everything is under control. (Referring to my hair) The combination of sea, black sand, mountain with unusual column structure has given us an Out-of-the-world kind of scenery!

Fifth Location, Lunch
This was precisely what we did before meals and when we got into our mini-van. TAKE OFF ALL OUR JACKETS! We were like onions, peeling off layer by layer. In Iceland, they usually wait for you to place an order first, then, they start preparing the food. Hence, the average waiting time will be around 15-25mins. Lamb followed by some Icelandic word. Fish Burger. This was good. Fish & Chips. Had Icelandic Ice-cream despite the cold weather! :)

Sixth Location, Solheimajokull Glacier
YAY~ All geared up for our very first glacier walk! They provided us with a pair of crampons for shoes, ice-axe, helmet and harness for safety. I won't deny that we do look like some cave miners. My happy mum! Not knowing what "danger" lies ahead of her... And after a 30-45 minutes LONG walk from their base (and I thought that there would be a transportation to bring us there directly...), we finally reached a cliff that overlooks the glacier! We were already perspiring and, this was just the beginning... First of all, the guide gave us a safety briefing. Next, he taught and helped us with the crampons and gave us a rough idea on how to ice walk. THEN, the hard truth came, he pointed out to a steep slope by the edge of the cliff and said, "We are heading down." [Queue lightning strike sound effect] My mum and bro face literally went from :D to :|. We were on a high cliff and apparently, they are afraid of heights... The steep slope was just the first obstacle that we faced. What made this even scarier was that there were no grip at all! The soil just kept sliding downhill when you take a step and your feet had no control/friction over anything. Imagine tumbling down from that height... OMG. It was tense man. Glacier Water, the purest and freshest water in the world. Filling up our own bottles with the glacier water! Tadah~ Ladies & Gentlemen. These are dirt cones. They contain mostly ice and are actually covered by a thin layer of dark sand. This adventurous guy over here was our glacier tour guide. He was really patient and helpful! (Bonus: kinda good-looking too... HEH.) Second obstacle was that we had to walk up a narrow path where there's NOTHING (Nothing = HUGE HOLE) beside you. If you lose your balance... ... Then that's it. This is the reason why it is CRUCIAL to know how to walk in those crampons. Even taking a photo is a difficult task for my mum. Look at her hugging my bag! Hahaha! Surrounded by 'Oreo Cookie Chunks'. Clouds blocking out the sun. Third Obstacles, another downhill slope but this time round, it's on the GLACIER. She had this look on her face for the entire time. Notice the glacier cracks? Damn Global Warming! We are going to conquer this difficult glacier walk!! Can you spot a waterfall in between the mountain? W.O.A.H. An Ice Cave that we could actually enter and walk through it?! Count us in! The awesome view when we got out of the ice cave! The cave was very tight at some turning point. Hence, you had to turn your body in a way so that you could squeeze through the narrow gap. I won't recommend it if you have claustrophobia or if you are a plus size. Even my bro had difficulty because of his height that he tore his waterproof pants. :x Time to head back to where we begin! THE CLIFF. My mum and bro got nervous again because we had to go through all the dangerous ups and downs for the second time to reach the top. Oh yes. It started to hail when we were reaching our destination! You could hear the sound of the ice hitting onto your helmet, loud and clear! And then, once we reached the cliff, we were greeted by a full arch rainbows~ Incredible. Ahhh.. I'm not sure what got onto the lens and destroyed our wonderful picture! A candid jump shot with my parents... you know, just chilling by the side. Taking the same route to get back to the base. These green moss are protected because they actually beautify the land so we were told to only walk on the provided footpath. The distance between the glacier and us at only the halfway mark. ALRIGHT. YES WE SURVIVED!!! This glacier walk was one hell of a ride. I can't find any word or phrase to describe the way I feel about this. The moment we got back onto the cliff safely, I was so relief and had an adrenaline rush. The best thing about this walk was that we had lots of first time experiences in just 3 hours. The glacier, ice cave, hail... This is definitely an experience of a lifetime! As for the sceneries, they were one of a kind. How often can you hike to a glacier and be surrounded by beautiful nature?!
By the way, I am really very proud of my family. My parents are not young anymore and they managed to complete the entire thing without backing out! Especially my mum, she really hate heights and she and my bro managed to help each other overcome the fear. Haha!! They were damn adorable and brave. [Claps] Got sucked into the Avatar world momentarily. Fun Fact #4: My dad told our glacier guide that my mum and bro were afraid of heights and guess what he said?! He was like, "What?! You should have told me! I could have taken you guys on a longer but easier route!" -.- oh damn.

Hotel for the night, Guesthouse Solheimahjaleiga.
Walking to the reception area to have our dinner. Starving and exhausted us. Soup with homemade breads. (Forgotten if this was mushroom or corn) Arctic Char, salad and potatoes. Yummy~ Well, what can I say? Dinner never disappoints!
Alright! That will be all for the third day! Giving you some small hint on the upcoming post, frustrating W-I-N-D & Icebergs. Stay tune!

[[SIGNING OFF]]