Waking Up to A Winter Weather Advisory!
Travel Warning: DO NOT DRIVE
Yikes! We were hundreds of miles from Reykjavík, Iceland's capital and the largest city on the island.
We were staying in a small guest-house just outside of Höfn along the Ring Road.
All night, snow fell, sleet pounded the glass front of our room, and winds howled, sometimes making us think our little building would be hurled all the way to Kansas!
We really weren't all that surprised to learn of the travel advisory, but disappointed. We didn't get to Stokksnes last night because of weather and now we might have to skip it again. So sad.
Stokksnes and Vestrahorn Mountain were the reason to drive all the way across southern Iceland, several hundred miles.
The room was definitely not spacious, roomy, or comfy and no place we would want to hang out for any part of the day, so we showered and packed our car for travel - not sure where we were going, but somewhere.
Speaking of showering......we quickly noticed a trend. The showers are usually not their own designated space within the bathroom, as in this guesthouse. The water just sprays most of the area and soaks the floor. It did come with a squeegee; no extra towels.
Abby and I woke up feeling very Icelandic today.
We started heading toward Stokksnes even though visibility was low, flurries were still flying, and the sky was still completely overcast.
Where did that giant mountain go?
Within about 5 minutes of leaving our room, we found some horses that looked promising for a photo shoot. They weren't too far from the road and there was room to pull over. We had seen hundreds of horses all over the island, but we were in a hurry to get somewhere or the weather was terrible or there was no place to pull over.
YAY! Today was the day for an equestrian experience.
As soon as I got out of the car, they hurried to the fence - I'm sure looking for food.
I tried to tell them how sorry I was that I had nothing. They persisted and came closer. Look at those sad faces:(
Now I could really see the sadness in their eyes.
Mr Ed was either signaling to the others that the old lady has nothing to offer or that her bare fingers look tasty.
The snow was really picking up.
I was happy that we found these fun horses because Vestrahorn was not looking good, actually we could barely see it off in the distance and it was only a few miles away.
My big lens quickly became too large for this close encounter but my girl was shooting from the car. Sad that this one wasn't in focus, but I had to post anyway.
I thought my apology would go over much better if I gave them a rub on their cold wet faces.
Just as I moved from the first horse to the second, he reared up his head and showed A LOT of teeth.
It was at that point that I remembered all the warnings about petting the horses - THEY BITE! Doesn't he look a little like Bubba, Forest Gump's bestie?
So sorry guys:( I have to go.
After 10 days of traveling through the Icelandic countryside, we all decided that the worst thing to be in Iceland is a horse. There are thousands of them just stranded in roadside corrals with no shelter of any kind and maybe a couple bales of hay. Some were in deep snow with no sign of green anywhere:(
We had just a short drive to Stokksnes where we found the Viking Cafe.
These were the friendliest vikings we ran into.
We paid the visitor fee in the Viking Cafe and were on our way. We knew about the fee ($8 per person) which is charged by the individual who owns the land. I think it's very reasonable for allowing us to enjoy this great view that he owns.
The view of Vestrahorn from Stokksnes Peninsula is just Amazing. I found this on Abby's phone.
She even captured one of me trying to get a good reflection.
See you guys. There's so much to see here. Gotta Run!
I only made it a few yards when I noticed this incredible view. I can see something up ahead on the beach. It looks like a piano, but that doesn't make sense, so it will be interesting to see what it is.
It is so massive here and absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for this great image of the whole scene, Abby. She does a terrific job exploring and experiment with the settings on her phone. She used the panoramic setting to get this one.
This is one of my favorite views. We got lucky with some blue sky and sun hitting the front of the mountain creating a beautiful reflection. I'm shooting with a 24 - 105 Canon lens. We brought a wider angle lens but it doesn't shoot as sharp as this one. It's my all time favorite, go-to lens.
I shot from the beach level for several minutes, until I found myself running from the sneaker waves, and running a long ways!
The waves were incredible - not to copy our President Trump - but just incredible!
My camera just couldn't stop clicking.
While I was exploring the higher grounds, Al and Abby found an amazing treasure.
WOW! It was a piano on the beach! How Fun?
Who could have guessed there would be a piano right on the beach??? Who!
How did it get here?
This beach is surrounded by lava rocks and sand dunes. Notice two things in this picture.....notice the person at the end of Abby's lens and how small he is. That really shows how deep or wide (however you want to look at it) this beach is. Also notice the puddles left behind from high tide.
We had such a good time trying to come up with ideas of what to do with a piano on the beach. This is as wide as my 24 - 105 lens could shoot. Thankful for Abby's phone pano.
We got so lucky with the terrific sunshine after such an unpredictable weather start today.
I LOVE this one and I found it on Abby's phone!
There were very few people on this beach, maybe 8. One of the couples asked Abby to take their picture so they returned the favor.
Not sure why she was jumping for joy, but she was. Maybe because we had beautiful sunshine or because it wasn't too windy or just because this beach and mountain are incredible.
I can see how people can stay here for hours exploring this area. Unfortunately, the sun soon became elusive which brought a chill to the air and we had a long drive to our next hotel, so we had to hit the road.
We made a quick stop to take a picture of the Viking Village located just at the base of the mountain. We did not have time to hike over.
Guess what we found on the way out? Horses of course. This herd at least had a view.
These next few were taken by Abby. She's still learning camera settings and is mostly focusing on composition. I'm confident she'll get it all together soon.
How does this poor guy even see where he's going? Maybe his gray friend is his guide horse.
OR, maybe he just occasionally shakes his head.
Another herd we found along our drive.
We could not get his attention, but liked the setting. He's a long distance away from us - hundreds of yards.
The beauty of the whole scene.
Thought I'd try one in black and white.
Some of these horses are jumping, but they were also several hundred yards away.
We really are not huge horse lovers, but they seem to be very popular in Iceland. From what I can tell, they are mostly used for riding and breeding. They are found in other parts of the world too and I just learned that my niece in Boston has an Icelandic pony. Please send a picture and I'll post it here along with these guys.
Saving space right here for Megan's Boston Icelandic Pony!
After we finished playing with the horses, we started driving back to the west again. Our goal was Fosshotel Nupar, about 2.5 hours in good weather.
As expected, when we passed through the Jökulsárlón Glacier area, we saw lots of reindeer again.
This is one of two areas where several thousand of them live. I didn't even realize that I caught him in the act until I looked at this picture.
The Iceland Reindeer is related to the American Caribou, except that it is smaller, weighing in around 500 pounds.
I know it looks like I cut and pasted this reindeer onto this background, but I absolutely did not! I did find it very difficult to shoot in Iceland due to lack of color, low sun in the sky, lots of clouds and snow, lack of color - did I already say that?
Playing with silhouettes.
We absolutely could not pass by Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon & Diamond Beach without stopping by. I know we've already been here twice, but it's so magnificent, we cannot just drive by. It's a MUST see.....again. I'm sure it will look different.
So, Next Stop....Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon & Diamond Beach.....again.
Click the above photo to see more of Diamond Beach and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. If you already visited this link from Day 4, no need to click again, unless, like us, you just love diamonds on the beach.
It's not unusual for entire towns to flood during the summer months when the glaciers melt. This is what was left after a town flooded a few years ago and their entire bridge was washed away leaving just this behind.
Hofskirkja Church, in Hof, was built in 1884 and was the last turf church built in the old architectural style. The walls are made of rocks and the roof is made of stone slabs and covered in turf. It looks so cute in summer pictures, but we found it kind of ordinary.
Another hazard of glacier melting.....sometimes rivers move. Does that mean they pack up and move to a new town? Well, maybe. This river moved which means that this bridge is no longer necessary. It still stands but is closed to traffic and a new road was created. Maybe they left it intact in case the river moves back?
After a long drive, we found our hotel. Fosshotel is probably Iceland's version of a Courtyard Marriott - not too fancy but pretty nice.
I'm guessing they've had a lot of snow this year.
Maybe even this week. The parking lot is not cleared.
We actually arrived before dark - YAY! We skipped most of the breakfast at the guesthouse because it was disgusting and we skipped lunch because there was none. Luckily we had our snacks.
They had some sort of problem with their scheduling and our triple room that we booked was not available so they offered 2 doubles. Abby was happy to have her own room. They recommended that we make a dinner reservation because they had removed half of their tables to space people apart a little more than usual and we could be waiting a while. Bummer, we were hungry now! The first available was 8:30, almost 3.5 hours later. YIKES! Did I mention that we were hungry now?
Can we get take-out? YES
GREAT! We noticed a lobby bar that was wide open and with a view - sort of. We'll get food from the restaurant and eat there. First availability.....7pm YIKES! again. We can wait. We got this.
So we headed to our rooms. They are not big on decorations here in the Land of Ice.
All the windows in the hallway were COMPLETELY covered with snow. That's at least 9 feet of packed snow!!!!
Our rooms actually had a little bit of an opening at the top.
Absolutely no way we're enjoying the patio today.
Every room we've stayed in this trip has beds made up this way. Interesting. They are all singles; some pushed together to make a double.
It was finally time to place our food order. YAY! We hung out in the lobby waiting for our take-out order.
We got our food and sat at the table all the way to the right of the lobby bar. We were there about 1 minute when the manager showed up to tell us that we couldn't eat in the lobby bar. WHAT?
It looks like it is set up for eating, right? He said due to the ban on assembly, we would need to eat in our room. How would that be different than us eating in the restaurant with other people? Why are the other people allowed to drink in the lobby bar?
I understand rules, but not crazy ones. I explained that we had only a skinny little table under the tv, in our double room, for 3 people to eat, and only 2 chairs. They didn't care. There was absolutely nowhere we could eat except in our crowded room. At least the food was good. We ordered seafood salads with goat cheese and blueberries and blueberry dressing, and Abby had lamb.
Frustrated with FossHotel!
Day 5 complete!