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Monday, July 8, 2013

Day 10: Vik - Hofn: Ice Lagoon


We could sleep a bit longer in the morning because our bus to our next destination, Höfn, would only leave at noon. Our main focus that day was to visit the Glacier Lagoon Jökulsárlón. We chose a bus by sterna, because they said online that the bus to Höfn stops long enough for us to be able to take a boat tour through the Glacier Lagoon. But first, we had a long bus trip ahead of us, as it takes about 3 hours from Vík to Jökulsárlón and then another hour to Höfn. There were again some stops in between and after a short stop at the gas station in Kirkjubæjarklaustur, the bus driver was nice enough to make a stop at a waterfall along the highway, the Foss á Siðu.   
 


Another stop was at Skaftafell, where I would have loved to stay even for a couple of days. You can already see the glacier and take a guided hike from there. The landscape all along the road was a sight for itself during the whole bus trip. Sometimes flat and black and sometimes green and always different areas of vast lava landscape.


Finally, we saw from the bus the first signs of the Glacier Lagoon and were excited already. When the bus stopped at the parking area next to the information center and the driver announced that we will be there for about 45 minutes, we all immediately jumped out of the bus (it was actually just us, a Japanese guy, a German elderly couple, another German girl and another couple). We went directly to the small platform for the Amphibian Boat, where you can buy the tickets (even with credit cards, obviously Icelanders are big with the plastic money and you can pay everywhere with it) directly from the Staff and were happy to get the last remaining places for the next boat that left very shortly after.


When we boarded the Amphibian Boat, we had to wear a life jacket for safety, just in case somebody wanted to test the freezing waters. Fascinating of course were the blocks of glacier ice floating on the lagoon, and a couple of blocks even upturned. Our guide was animated enough to tell us everything he knows about these glacier, the lagoon and the area. During our research, I've already thought about going there and was so excited when we finally been able to do so. The blocks of ice floated from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, which is an outlet of the Vatnajökull glacier into the ocean. The ice has different shades of blue and white and even crystal clear. Sometimes it pops up from the depth or breaks.


We were overwhelmed and very excited returning to the bus for our final lap for the day, Höfn, where we will be staying for one night. We arrived an hour later, shortly after 5:00 p.m. in Höfn and the hotel was just next to the gasoline station which is also the bus stop and grocery store. We booked for a night at the Höfn Inn Guesthouse, and it turned out to be nice with a spacious room, flatscreen TV, private bathroom and with breakfast included the next day, but still too expensive. But Höfn is the only town near the Glacier Lagoon. Across the street from the bus stop is the camping area. That would have been another option for travellers who wanted to cut back some expenses.


We just took a snack from the gas station and then walked into the town center. Höfn is said to be the metropolis of south-eastern Iceland, but it is really a small village compared to continental European standard. We just walked along the main road, pass by the campsite and into the harbour. Unfortunately, some attractions like the Stone Museum and the Glacier Exhibition were already closed. The lobster restaurant looked very inviting and quite busy but looking at the price made me jolt back from my reverie. I thought I'll just reserve my cravings next time I come to Palawan and visit my favorite restaurant, the Ka Lui.


We soon came to the harbour with the scenic view of the mountains behind the town and wanted to proceed to the Sailors Monument, but the path was crowded by angry looking arctic terns which looked like nesting in the meadows. After having experienced these angry birds in Grundarfjörður early in our journey, my friend insisted on taking another path along the waters. When we were at the monument, there were a couple who dared to go directly through the path and hid their heads under their hoodies to get through the scary swarm. We preferred to take the path along the waters going back.


After our detour to the monument we walked along the coast. They have a walking path where you can stroll on into the town and the view of the tongues of Vatnajökull glacier. There was a small hill that serves as a platform facing the other side of the peninsula. We stayed there a bit, had a short stop to photograph the church and to the gas station where we bought our dinner.


Later I went back to the coast to take some more sunset photos, which was no earlier than midnight.

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