September 13 (Rain, violent rain/wind, blue skies near sunset)
I woke up to rain and more rain this morning. After having breakfast prepared by our B&B host (probably one of the best during the trip) we set off to Seljalandfoss (I was super excited about this waterfall because I had done so much research regarding how to photograph it).
Off-topic: Instead of traditional sausage and eggs for breakfast, every breakfast I had in Iceland were served with processed deli meat, bread, cereal and Icelandic yogurt called Skyr (and it is super healthy and tasted heavenly). In fact processed deli meat occupied a larger than expected portion of all supermarkets there.
When we got to Seljalandfoss the rain did not ease and in fact I swear it got worst! I was fairly disappointed since so much planning went into this particular shot but I refused to go without trying. I climbed up the SLIPPERY muddy slope and quickly snapped a couple of pictures (it was getting dangerous) before leaving. We retreated to the SUV for our next destination: Skogafoss.
The original plan was to hike up Skogafoss (my research indicated a 8km hike one way with many smaller waterfalls along the way) but the plan was quickly axed due to the unrelenting rain. We stayed around the main waterfall and I was able to salvage a couple of passable photographs which ironically may not be possible in good weather (there were multiple tour buses at the parking lot but very few tourists opted to brave the elements). By the time we left Skogafoss it got so windy it was literally raining sideways… my windshield was barely wet but I couldn’t see through the passenger windows at all. The gusts were so impressive that I had to slightly steer into the wind with my semi-tank aka Land Cruiser. By that time I had already missed 2 major landmarks so logically I prayed to Buddha, Poseidon, Zeus, Allah, and all higher beings for better weather.
Checking the weather forecast on my phone, I was informed that the weather along the entire southern Iceland will be more of the same for at least the next couple of days except Vik (a 1.5 hr drive east) which was our next destination! Was that a sign of better days ahead? Or was it a mean tease from the weather gods? Between Skogafoss and Vik we saw 1353463246 sheeps but we did not come across another car.
Vik and its surrounding black sand beaches were ranked as the #2 beach in the world by National Geographic. When we got there the rain eased a bit but the waves were hitting the shores pretty violently still so we decided to stay at the vantage points above. Truth be told if I wasn’t traveling with my mom I would’ve ventured below because it didn’t look THAT bad, but I decided to play it safe since she doesn’t play well with water. The sand at Vik were polar opposites to the pristine white sand of Tofino: the sand was so charcoal black it was like ash… actually it probably was ash lol.
Over the next 15 minutes the rain clouds simply vanished and sunlight finally made an appearance to grace the land with a golden hue. I spent a good 30 minutes soaking in the view and put my camera/tripod to work before hunger took over. Once we got to the town of Vik we settled in our hotel, grabbed a delicious fine-dining meal for $120, then headed out to our last destination for the day: the Reynisdranger rock formation (By the way Icelandic people have a way of naming stuff that is literally impossible for a foreigner to pronounce… I stopped trying and resorted to pointing at the word on my phone. The locals tried to teach me the proper pronunciation but to no avail… similar alphabets/letters but different sounds).
I met numerous photographers that night (I think that hotel was the only affordable accommodation in the area). One German photographer was kind enough to show me some of his pictures – He saw the northern lights and I was immediately envious of his awesome encounter! (Aurora Borealis was one of the reason why I came to Iceland… funny because we get them in Canada too). I also saw a pack of ~20 motorcyclists arriving in complete misery from the weather.