Iceland

Iceland

Ðay ZERO & One

Plane tickets, a Lonely Planet guide, a booked Grand Cherokee and my photography gear. This is all I prepared for this trip. Ten days in Iceland. Starting and ending point: Keflavík’s airport. The plan: go around the island counterclockwise.Keflavík, South-West of Reykjavik, 8000 inhabitants. It barely makes to the top ten of the largest cities of the country. That’s why we decide to hit the road directly. We pick up the ridiculously huge car and head first for Þorlákshöfn.There we have a quick glance at the sea and the sunset. In a second time we go to Þórsmörk, traversing the towns of Selfoss, Hella and Hvolsvöllur along the way. It’s already dark when we arrive at Fljótsdalur, 10miles away from our final destination. A sign indicates that the road ahead of us is impassable. We decide to set up camp there and by that I mean fold back the rear seats of the car. It’s only after opening the door of the car, which barely misses from being torn apart by the wind, that I remember the advice that the guy from the car rental gave us:

Always hold the door and check for the wind before letting go of it!

The next morning with the road obstructed we decide to go on a 10mile hike in the valley located between Valahnúkur (282m) and the volcano Tindfjallajökull (1251m). The grass is golden and the ground is grey, the water crystal clear. The amount of light will remain the same all day long, making it hard to know what time it is. That and the silence that surrounds us create in me feeling of both freedom and distress. We are all alone in the middle of nowhere.

After that, we go for our first waterfalls – foss in Icelandic – Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, both 60m high. While you can walk behind the former, you can climb at the top of the latter. They’re nothing like those I’ve already seen. The fact that our clothes are already starting to get wet even though we’re standing quite far form the falls gives you an idea of its power. When we climb at the top of the Skógafoss, I remember all those movies, mostly animation movies, where characters are carried away by the water towards an inevitable fall but are, in the end, saved by a rock or branch that happens to be there. Here? No rock. No branch. The movie would have to stop.

Our next destination is Vík, the southernmost village in Iceland. In-between, on Sólheimasandur’s deserted black sandy beach, lies the rest of the abandoned Douglas Super DC-3 airplane which was forced to land – read crashed – after running out of fuel. Rumours that I haven’t been able to verify say that the pilot switched by accident to an empty tank. Funny, although tragic, the rumours also say that the army attempted to recover the plane but failed, leaving a crashed helicopter next to the first aircraft. The scenery is fantastic. We are in the middle of a science-fiction movie scene. Somewhere between Lost and Armageddon – yes, these are not the best references. I take a few shots of the 41 year old carcass of the plane and we leave. We barely make it back to the main road, 2miles away from the crash site, nearly getting stuck in the sand. The sun is already set when we reach Vík but there’s still enough light to admire one of the most beautiful beaches on Earth.Two basalt stacks stand in the water. Their black color makes me think they’re Étretat white stack’s evil twin brothers. A heavy wind sweeps masses of grains of stand across the beach. Exposed, it’s hardly liveable. And it’s getting late.

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