Omreisende

Andy Meyer, Fulbright Roving Scholar in Norway

Iceland is Impossible

As a Seattleite, I’m lucky to live in a remarkable place—one characterized by a striking relationship between the mountains and the sea, and by the consequences of volcanic and geothermal forces on the land. Iceland, where I’ve just spent a week on my way to Oslo, could be said to share those characteristics, but I found the island incomparable—and I only saw a fraction of it.

I rented a car, which became my castle, and (with the help of Scandinavia’s “allemannsretten,” or people’s right to public land, and the generosity of a few friends) I didn’t spend one króna on lodging. Much of my time was absorbed in driving Iceland’s stunning roads, many of which are rough gravel (car rental agencies offer various kinds of insurance extras to cover damage from gravel and other probabilities from driving in Iceland). I partook, gladly, of the gravel protection plan and added over 2000 gravelly, jaw-dropping kilometers to my car’s odometer.

Driving, in any case, was half the magic of my adventure. I get a little flabbergasted just remembering some of the roads I was on, Wile E. Coyote-style in some cases.

The first and larger part of my little adventure took me throughout the Westfjords. I looked at a map before I left, saw that hand-shaped, fjord-broken peninsula jutting out of the northwest corner (it seems I have a penchant for Northwests), and I said, “I have to go there.” So I did. And it was good. I can’t really describe it. So I won’t.

The journey finished with a wonderful day meeting up with Seattle friends Lily and Laurie. We took a drive along the south coast from Reykjavik to Vík and back, stopping to explore several waterfalls, including the majestic Skógafoss (google it for images), where trolls and huldufólk most certainly live, and convening with magical Icelandic horses.

There’s so much more I can hardly begin. I’ve painstakingly chosen a bunch of images from the hundreds I made, so enjoy these few, and imagine the rest! If you think your imagination has gone too far, it likely hasn’t. Best to let it go a little further . . .

Really, I didn’t want to leave Iceland. My only consolation was that I had to go to Norway.

I’m settling in nicely to my lovely apartment in Oslo. I can see Holmenkollen, the famous ski jump outside of Oslo, if I hang my head a bit over my balcony (!). It’s good to be here.

I picked up some hitchhikers my first day and we visited a strawberry farm near Reykholt.

I picked up some lovely hitchhikers my first day and we visited a strawberry farm near Reykholt.

The "Children's Waterfall," also near Reykholt.

Barnafoss, the “Children’s Waterfall,” also near Reykholt.

My first day ended with a hike up an escarpment and a moonrise over another.

My first day ended with new friends, a hike up one escarpment and a moonrise over another. (From the former we could see Langjökull and Ok, the ice-mass formerly known as Okjökull.)

Here's a(n a)typical view from the driver's seat while driving.

Here’s a(n a)typical view from the driver’s seat while driving.

Across  Áulfta fjord to the town of Súðavík in the Westfjords.

Across Áulfta fjord to the town of Súðavík in the Westfjords.

My first night ended by chasing the almost-midnight sunset to the bucolic hamlet of Skálavik at the edge of the world.

My first night ended by chasing the almost-midnight sun to the bucolic hamlet of Skálavik at the edge of the world . . .

. . . where I saw the sun set over the Greenland Sea.

. . . where the sun set over the Greenland Sea.

My campsite at Skálavik.

My campsite at Skálavik. I did not want to leave.

Some of the Icelandic roads I mentioned.

Some of the Icelandic roads I mentioned.

The wide waterfall at Dynjandi, Westfjords.

The wide waterfall at Dynjandi, Westfjords.

Låtrabjarg, the westernmost point in Europe, and home to well over a million seabirds, including a host of precocious Puffins.

Látrabjarg, the westernmost point in Europe, and home to well over a million seabirds, including a host of precocious Puffins.

Like this one.

Like this one.

Or this one.

Or these two.

Or, say, this one.

Or, say, this one.

The Cliffs of Insanity are indeed at Látrabjarg.

It turns out the Cliffs of Insanity are at Látrabjarg.

Where the sun also sets.

Where the sun also sets.

Rauðasandur, Iceland's only red sand beach, and a gorgeous one. I swam here in the North Atlantic.

Rauðasandur is Iceland’s only red sand beach, and a gorgeous one. I swam here.

An abandoned farmstead sits at the bottom of one of the several falls near Seljalandsfoss.

An abandoned farmstead sits at the bottom of one of the several falls near Seljalandsfoss.

I met up for my last full day with Seattle friends Lily and Laurie, who were also stopping over in Iceland. Here is Skógafoss.

Here is Skógafoss.

A bit of the river above Skógafoss.

A bit of the river gorge above Skógafoss.

Here is Lily just strolling through magical fairy lands and the impossible home of the Huldufólk above Skógafoss.

Just a casual stroll through impossibly magical fairy lands and the likely home of the Huldufólk above Skógafoss.

The town of Vík in the south.

The town of Vík in the south.

Part-magical horses live at Petúrsey.

Half-magical horses live beneath the rocks at Petúrsey.

The plane wreck on the moon—er, rather, near Skógafoss, a destination for photographers.

The plane wreck on the moon—er, rather, near Skógafoss, a destination for photographers.

The adventure closed with the second blue moon rising over the surface of the moon.

My preparatory adventure closed with the blue moon rising . . . over the surface of the moon.

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4 Comments

  1. Wow, thanks for sharing! Awesome!

  2. Priscilla Lindberg

    Ethereal and atmospheric! And damn killer pics!!!! Miss you already!

  3. Maria

    That was quite satisfactory, heh heh. I can’t believe all those puffins! Interesting concept, the “allemansretten”—so you can kind of find any random appealing/acceptable spot on public land & just put up a tent? The extra insurance for the treacherous roads is amusing. “-jökull” must mean mountain or something; that’s part of the famous volcano’s name.

    • Andy

      Re: allemannsretten, more or less. As long as you’re a sufficient distance from private property or any structures, you’re good. Jökull means glacier.

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