We're on a boat -- to the Westman Islands!
We left the Snaefellsness Peninsula early and made our way to Landeyjafofn, catching the ferry to a small group of islands off the coast. The Westman Islands is full of recent volcanic history as well as a sancutary for millions of puffins!
The ferry ride was only 30 minutes but I still got terrible sea sickness. Clinging to the front of the boat for dear life, shedding most of my clothes to combat the "ocean wave sweats", and concentrating on not hurling, we finally got to the islands. Meanwhile, Will was walking around the boat, drinking a beer, loving life.
As we pulled up to the only inhabited island, we past by these massive pieces of land, the scene of Jurassic Park came to mind.
Coming to Westman Islands was a decision made on a whim and it was maybe one of my favorite parts of the trip. We got off the boat and hustled to our first stop, The Saeheimar Aquarium. There we met Toti, the resident puffin. Our guide told us that Westman is such a safe place for the puffin, that the residents are always on the look out for injured or young puffin. If they find these puffins that can't fend for themselves, they are taken to the aquarium, and rewarded with a picture on their wall as a helper of the island. The walls were plastered in every inch of pictures of these rescuers.
Taking a quick second to drop our bags at our AirBnB, we headed to the only brewery in town, Brothers Brewery. We were the only ones in the bar so we got to get a one one with one the brothers who told us everything about the island and the beer industry in Iceland. We laughed, drank amazing beer and realized how small the world is by connecting on a few mutual friends.
Despite having a long travel day we had a burst of energy that led us on a hike to the base of the largest volcano on the island. Sitting at the edge of the cliffs was this unreal golf course with crashing waves and a view of the other islands.
We didn't have a car with us so we explored the island by foot. Spotting many local cats!
Dinner was at GOTT, this cute restaurant with an icelandic take on ravioli. I was stuffed to the gills but Will got an ice cream as we meandered through the streets. The next day we only had a few hours to hike the other side of the island. As we started to scale that end of town, there were cautionary volcano signs everywhere. A little on edge (ok, a lot on edge) I prayed a prayer that I never thought I would .. Lord please don't let this volcano we are hiking, explode.
The hike was short but straight up! Broken pieces of lava rocks in all shades made it a difficult hike as it was comparable to walking up a mountain of molasses. The wind was extremely strong at the top and the narrow walking trail was a 50/50 chance of falling into the volcano crater or falling off the edge of the volcano into the water. From here you could see the entire town and the surrounding uninhabited islands - it was surreal. Below is a picture of me doing yoga on the veryyyy tip top of the volcano. As Will was taking a picture he was yelling over the wind, "don't look so scared out of your mind!" You can be the judge if I accomplished that haha!
Back on the main coast of Iceland we had to drive 4 hours to get to Jokulsarlon for our glacier tour. Unfortunately, our ferry from the Westman islands got delayed and we missed the zodiac boat tour. We were able to get on the next one the following day and went on a hike to a couple waterfalls instead!
That night we stayed at The Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon hotel. A chic hotel that lets its view do the talking, while dark colors and glass lighting fixtures paint the interior. Keeping our streak of amazing meals, I had the vegetarian course and Will had the pork belly course. Course after course of perfectly curated food lulled me into a deep sleep and got us ready for our big day of adventuring.
We woke up to a rainy and cold day, which was very disappointing to Will and I. When rebooking the glacier tour, we were so nervous it was going to be a crappy day. Trying to be optimistic, we got to the tour and the guides told us that this was the absolute best weather for exploring the lagoon. They couldn't have been more right! The cloudy weather let us see more of the icebergs and the rain made the glacier almost shine!
This day was our busiest day where we tried to stop and see everything we humanly could. We stopped and saw a million waterfalls like Skogafoss, went to the Reynisfjara Beach where the waves were deadly huge, and made the long trek to the famous plane wreck.
I really wanted to go to the oldest swimming pool in Iceland - Seljavallalaug. The 15 minute hike brought us to an underwhelming pool full of algae and gross changing rooms. Fun side note, I had bought these cheap razors and had sliced my whole leg open the night before. Despite that, I was determined to atleast step into the pool (for instagram reasons) and the whole rest of the day worried I was going to get staph infection.
Exhausted, tired, and hungry we made it to our stop for the night, Midgard Base camp. The epitome of cool, this hotel is run by a family who also manage an exploration of the surrounding Icelandic areas. When we arrived, we were greeted by a stampede of horses, great beer and a hot tub on the roof. The vibe was chill AF but also hip, easy and comfortable. Nice up to date accommodations and a travel bag of organic toiletries to boot!
Stay tuned for my final post on Iceland where we wrap up the last couple of days of our trip!