It was sad to leave Eldhestar Hotel as it had been a wonderful stay (even if we had lingered longer indoors in it than we had planned yesterday!). But the weather was positively balmy by comparison to yesterday and the planned itinerary was hopefully to be completed.
We first drove out eastwards, along the SouthCoast. We passed through Selfoss, the dairy town where much of the milk is processed into various milks, cheeses and yogurts (including the delicious Skyr that everyone visiting this country should try). Then it was out along the wide open expansive plains of the sandur lands that lie between the West Volcanic Zone (yesterday’s location) and the Eastern Volcanic Zone (today’s destination). The volcano Hekla was not seen but stories of its eruptions, its characteristics and the monitoring and mitigation techniques to keep an eye on it were explained as we travelled.
The weather continued to be exceptionally windy but Jon Ragnar was extremely professional and safe in his driving; I relegate JR up to 6 star status today! JR used to drive with his grandfather when his grandfather was collecting milk from the farms; his grandfather told JR about the local winds and where to look out for gusts within the general airflows; JR must have listened attentively to such advice as he would say to me that there would soon be a buffet of wind, look out, and, right enough, right on cue, there it was; amazing!
We drove into glorious Fljotshlid valley, once a sea loch, now a valley choked with deposited sediments from glacial meltwater rivers flowing towards the sea. First stop was Stora Dimon where we parked the coach with a view looking directly towards Eyjafjallajokull volcano/icecap (ask your friend/relative how to pronounce this when they get home – we were all “letter perfect” today in the coach when we had a go together!). This stop was used by me to talk about being part of both the Fimmvorduhals and Eyjafjallajokull eruptions in 2010. I went through many wonderful (as well as sad and frightening) experiences during both these eruptions as it had been quite a “geographical ride” for me. By the end of my many tales many mouths were agape (in wonder and awe, I hope, and not because everyone was by now fast asleep with their mouths open!).
Then it was to Seljalandsfoss; remarkably it was falling vertically downwards as it was in a sheltered neuk, unlike the rest of Iceland. It was still blowing severe gales elsewhere; indeed, we saw many “waterups” as opposed to waterfalls as the winds were so severe that waterfall water was rising up like steam in an upwards direction rather than falling downwards; Iceland? Magical!). There was much in the way of ice and icicles all around making the location entrancing. Next stop was the Eyjafjallajokull Visitors’ Centre. The farmer and his wife were actually on duty; this was exciting as it was their farm, Thorvaldseyri, that was at the centre of the eruption. The film that was seen is spectacular and most moving. It describes the farming of the area in past generations, the events of the eruptions of 2010 and the clear up work done to bring the farm back to like; definitely a spine chillingly emotional and warming film. A great quote from the farmer’s wife in the film is, “Despite everything, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world”; how well do I know and empathise with that emotion; they were powerful times to live through.
Rumbling stomachs were by now becoming ever more noticeable (only joking) so a lovely packed lunch was had facing the Skogafoss waterfall. This is a 62m “curtain” waterfall, with a short gorge entrance to it. But now I know 2 ways by which to bring Trefoil Guild ladies to complete silence – the raising of one arm and providing them with a delicious packed lunch; not a sound could be heard as we all munched away! The one minute trick at the waterfall went down well (aha!) and then many went close to the face of the fall for some spectacular photographs.
After the “car wash” waterfall of Skogafoss, it was to the nearby SkogarFolkMuseum. Here a most enthusiastic guide took us around a few artifacts of yesteryear, related especially to the fishing in the past. Times must have been exceedingly tough then, for example wearing sealskin clothing softened with fish oil; mmm, I think I prefer Goretex! The two thumbed gloves were also interesting (something else to ask your friend/relative to explain!). The owner, Thordur, made an appearance. In his early eighties, he is a delightful man who immediately set to demonstrating how to spin wool using a hand held spindle, quite a skill.
Our final location for the day, Solheimajokull glacier, was always going to be a possible visit after the wild weather of this week. We were all up to try but on reaching the road end, it was obvious that there was way too much snow to make it wise to attempt it. So, sadly, this had to be dropped from the itinerary; everyone totally understood the reasoning. But there is so much to do that I discussed with Jon Ragnar various options we could do on the way back west. We plumped for a stop in Hveragerdi to visit the earthquake Exhibiiton, the bakari and gift shops. As part of the E’quake exhibition there is a little house inside of which you can experience what an earthquake might feel like; several tried this, of course, led by those who were the “Ice cream with Smarties” brigade last night for dessert in Eldhestar!; the more sensible headed directly for the bakari (myself included – the Trefoil Guild ladies are exhausting me . I need all the sugar I can get!). We then had time for a tour in the coach around Hveragerdi to discuss and view aspects of greenhouse cultivation. Then it was up and over the West Volcanic Zone and into Reykjavik by early evening.
And so ended another invigorating and stimulating day as we arrived at Hotel Cabin and settled in to our deluxe rooms. A delicious served meal of mushroom soup, white fish, pots and veg and then a huge bowl of ice cream and strawberry for dessert topped off a topping day! What the Trefoil ladies are dong now I have no idea; I need sleep! There are still 2 days to go! Rest assured that everyone is having a fantastic time (myself included).