Is that a mouthful or what? I’ve been to all three of those places and I still have no clue how to say them. Fortunately, that doesn’t deter from enjoying them. Last week I told you about exploring the glacier and black sand beaches along the South Shore. After our stop at the black sand beaches, we continue our journey back towards Reykjavik.
Our next stop is Skógafoss waterfall. When we arrive, our guide tells us we only have 25 minutes to stop here. This means we can’t climb the steps to the lookout at the top. I’m bummed! Part of what I wanted to explore here is the top of the waterfall! But as I’m contemplating doing it anyway, Emma comes up and says she’s surprised to still see me at the base.
With that, we both take off and book it up the hillside. Unfortunately, we both have asthma and by half way up, we can’t breathe. We settle for the lookout at this point, which still has excellent views!
Right next to Skógafoss is an Icelandic Folk Museum. You can kind of see it three pictures up. It’s our next stop, where we learn a bit about how Iceland was settled and the hard life its people lived right up until less than 100 years ago. There were no roads and people out here were a loooong way from Reykjavik, so if they needed help, say a doctor or something, they had to ride a horse or sail a boat. In this harsh climate, neither was a very good option, but somehow they all made do.
Outside the museum are a bunch of turf houses Iceland is known for. Before modern times, there weren’t any trees in Iceland and therefore no way for people to heat their homes. To stay warm, they would build their houses into the hillsides and cover as much of the building with turf as possible. Then they would cram as many people into a bed as they could, to share body heat.
In this picture, they kind of remind me of looking at Mr Snuffleupagus from behind.
Inside, the homes are modestly, but charmingly decorated. It’s all fairly cramped, but I’m impressed at just how much they could squeeze in here.
Behind the first row of turf houses is a second, slightly larger home. This one had space for livestock, which would also help keep the homes warm (though was probably rather smelly, I imagine).
The first main room is the kitchen and is the largest room in the house.
In the picture below, you can see the entrance to the stables on the left, and the bedrooms up the stairs on the right. I guess it makes sense to put the sleeping rooms over than animals since heat rises.
The dining room is just large enough for all the furniture you see and four people to squish in.
Next to the turf homes is a church. The outside has been rebuilt, but the interior is original. In typical Lutheran fashion, it’s sparsely decorated.
Once again, our stop is much too short. You could easily spend a half a day here, exploring everything there is to see. But since we have been such a punctual group, getting back to the bus on time, our guide informs us that we will be stopping oh so very briefly at Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that erupted in 2010 and caused all those air travel disruptions.
I have to admit, I thought it would be bigger. Maybe because the volcanos in Seattle are so big (Mt Rainier anyone?), or maybe because the eruption caused so many problems but to me, it barely looks larger than a hill. But that doesn’t take away from how beautiful it is all covered in snow. I’m SO glad the weather cleared up enough for us to see it.
At last, our next (and final) stop is probably my favorite waterfall in all of Iceland, and maybe (dare I say it?) anywhere (a bold statement indeed) – Seljalandsfoss.
OK, maybe from the front it doesn’t look as dramatic as Skógafoss, but just wait until you see it from the other side.
Once again, our guide tells us not to walk behind the waterfall – the main reason I wanted to come here! At least this time is not because of time and more because it’s not safe. Which means I’m going to walk behind it anyway. Emma is already cold and doesn’t want to get colder from the spray, so waits out front for me.
I admit, the path is totally covered with ice and probably isn’t smart of me to be walking along it with my camera, which I’m also trying hard to keep dry from the spray.
Somehow I make it without breaking anything (camera or self), and I’m so glad I made the attempt. It’s so neat back here!
A few other brave souls (mostly photographers like myself) made the trip as well.
So. Worth. It.
Since the path behind the waterfall is also slick and icy, I decide to try to access the other side by going around front.
This is as far as I get before I realize I’m just not going to be able to safely get back down those stairs. Just getting where I’m at was hard enough, so I sit on my bum and slide back down the hill. I think I’ve used up all my luck today anyway.
I bet you can guess what I’m going to say now. Yep, once again, there’s not enough time allowed to really see this place right, so I head back to the bus where Emma is already waiting.
I have to say, the South Shore has mightily impressed me. There are so many things to see and do here, my biggest complaint is that we didn’t have enough time to really get to enjoy them all properly. If you find yourself in Iceland, my recommendation would be to rent a car so you can spend as much time as you want in each place, and make sure you plan for a long day. Or better yet, find a place to stay overnight, and explore a little further out than I did. There’s even more in this area I haven’t gotten to experience and I can’t wait to go back!