Southern Coast, Iceland.
I was a bit unsure about driving all the way to Vik, the southernmost tip of Iceland, from Reykjavik in our dinky Nissan Micra rental – sure it’s got the studded winter tires and all, but 4 hours on these icy roads would be a test for a Range Rover.
Luckily we made it there and back in one piece. Along the way, magical colors greeted us, guided us, and at times seemed to lure us off the beaten track in pursuit of the uncanny.
We departed around 9AM, amid the post-Xmas pitch darkness. 2 hours along Route 1 South took us to Skogafoss – what it lacks in size versus the headliner Gullfoss, it makes up for in grace. We took a 10-minute hike up the right side of the falls to a viewing platform, and a small step-ladder takes you over a fence to see the river origins feeding the falls.
Pressed by the 5-hour daylight window we move on. Next stop: Dyrholaey, about an hour further from Skogafoss. This magical juxtaposition of colors aligns blanket-white snow, crystal ice, black sand beach, and sunset in the full spectrum of the rainbow in that order. It really makes the final statement on why this is the land of both Fire and Ice. (If visiting in the winter, beware that the lead-in road is a bit long – about 10 minutes – and snow accumulations are deep at points along the road. Come prepared!)
A short drive over snow-covered peaks took us to the small town of Vik, our furthest destination (a visit to Jokulsarlon must sadly wait until our next visit). A small and hearty lunch later we encounter Santa’s workshop nestled atop the hills (maybe I’ve been driving for too long).
A short drive back drops us off at Reynisfjara Beach, which we were able to see from a distance at Dyrholaey earlier. It is equally beautiful with a cluster of basalt columns reminiscent of the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, although was a much more touristy point than Dyrholaey (we ran into 4-5 tour buses while here).
Making our way back towards Reykjavik, the sky finally gives in to the falling sun and morphs into a deep shade of purple that would make Grimace blush.
How else can you wrap up an amazing day to another corner of Iceland without good food? We hit up Forrettabarinn, the #1 rated restaurant in Reykjavik on TripAdvisor. They specialize in small, Tapas-style dishes and we were not disappointed. The highlights: Langoustine Soup, Reindeer Wellington, Horse Steak (excellent and tastes exactly the same as beef to me), and an amazing house burger with pulled pork and caramelized onions.
And that is what this – and every – journey is about, at least to me: chasing down the magical colors that we might have overlooked in everyday life. The world is a canvas, and a monochrome existence isn’t. Dare to dream in brilliance.
“I love to travel, but hate to arrive.” -Albert Einstein