Our third and last day in Iceland. At this point, D had hardly eaten anything other than sandwiches and I was quickly losing the energy to keep pretending I like hiking (honestly, I am a 4-year-old when it comes to hiking, either there is a treat to reward me at the end, or I get really tired of it really quickly). Buuuuut let me tell you how Day 3 ended up being my favorite of all the days!
Day 3 - The South of Iceland
To be fair, I was pretty excited about Day 3, mostly because of the aforementioned treats as a reward for hiking, but also because we woke up to ACTUAL BLUE SKIES! While that does make everything look a tad less game-of-thronesy, it was so worth the burst of colors and happiness!
Our first pit stop was in Hveragerði, where we stopped to get Icelandic geothermally baked bread called Rúgbrauð. Yes, you read that right - the ground here is hot enough to bake actual bread! (By the way, the "ð" is pronounced like the "th" in "the", or like the Spanish "d"). We finally found it at a regular bakery, together with, you guessed it, some sandwiches for the road. Apparently you can take a baking class for this kind of bread elsewhere, but we couldn't really figure that out. It tastes a lot like German "Honigkuchen".
After loading up on food, we made our way to the first of many waterfalls of the day. This one was called Seljalandsfoss and it was cool because you can actually walk all the way behind and around it - lots of good photo ops! Here I am in my spiffy pink rainjacket... again, feel free to make fun of the middle aged American tourists wearing all-waterproof-errthang, but this is gonna get preeeeeeetty wet.
However, the best part about this stop was the OTHER waterfall (called Gljúfrabúi) - hidden in a cave maybe half a mile away. You have to kind of wade your way into the cave, so make sure your shoes have some grip. Nature is so awesome... here's a view from before we went in:
Stop numero dos was the black sand beach in Vik. On the risk of going overboard with the Game of Thrones vibes... OH MY GOSH I was expecting the Ironborn to sail up and storm this beach any SECOND. The three rocks you can spot wayyy in the background are said to be a sunken troll ship (and please also note the blue skies! Lucky ducks...).
Our next stop was a little bit sad - we went to see the Sólheimajökull glacier and learned (by eavesdropping on a tour guide) that is has been receding 50 meters a year for the past decade. That's a LOT!! I can't imagine coming back there every year and seeing how far it's gone... However, it was a cool sight. It's still covered in volcanic ash from the eruption of the (very!) nearby volcano Eyjafjallajökull, so it looks kind of dirty, but what a force of nature!
My absolute number 1 thing of the whole trip was our last stop on Day 3: the hike up to the geothermal river in Hveragerði. Yes, that's back where we got the Rúgbrauð from in the morning! We got some drinks and grapes on the way so we could feel like true Roman royalty once we got to the hot river. Pro tip: If you want to have a legit picnic up there (and people do!), bring some eggs that you can then cook in the hot water. I wish we had thought of this, it sounds beyond cool!
The hike up is gorgeous (and yes, going swimming at the end, with grapes and a cold drink, was enough of a reward for this hiking-curmudgeon, though I did loudly complain about the uphills on the way there). We went at around 6 pm, all the while thinking it might be too late. It was NOT too late - we saw people going up when we climbed down around 9 pm! No need to be scared of having to come back down in the dark - newsflash, it doesn't get dark in Iceland in June. At all. Ever. Which is pretty fantastic.
Always fashionable on our trips (not!)... (Also, let it be known that the geothermal steam smells!!! Kind of like eggs, actually.) I got a pretty cool snapchat of D vanishing into the steam in this spot, but as snapchat goes, that is all gone.
One little word of wisdom: There is no truly private place to change up there. There are a couple of walls where everyone changes and leaves their stuff, but it makes sense to go with someone who can hold a towel for you. Here's the view that greets you when you get there (it's about an hour hike to make it all the way to the hot river):
Amazing, isn't it? The river is fed by both geysir water and glacier water, which makes it a tad tricky to find the perfect spot where you don't get boiled alive like a lobster, but also don't freeze your toes off! Once you find that spot though, oooooh baby.... is it good!
Pro tip: Bring flip flops or some sort of footwear to wear in the water. The rocks can be pretty painful to walk on!
This photo was taken at around 8:30 pm. (My bathing suit is from Missguided by the way).
It being our last day, we stayed up super late to watch the midnight sun, and then flew out early the next day to Germany. Iceland - it was real!
Day 3 in a Nutshell:
What to do:
Really close to Seljalandsfoss waterfall, also visit Gljúfrabúi waterfall, hidden in a cave!
Black sand beaches in Vik
Sólheimajökull glacier - you can go on glacier hikes here, but like I said, unless there is someone making slushies with glacier ice or something..... not this girl!
You'll drive by the famous volcano that shut down air travel for a month or so in 2010 - Eyjafjallajökull. Make sure you check it out, there is a little plaque with info about it just off the main road.
ABSOLUTELY do the hike to the geothermal river from Hveragerði up into the mountains. Hands down the very best thing we did in Iceland! Don't forget to bring some eggs to boil in the geysir water!
What to eat:
Rúgbrauð, also known as Hverabrauð or "Thunder Bread" - geothermally baked bread that tastes more like cake. Get it at the bakery by the gas station in Hveragerði
Take some picnic food and drinks up to the hot river and do as the Romans (/Icelanders) do. We actually saw an Icelandic guy set up a full picnic spread with fermented shark, some sort of lamb terrine, bread, some sort of grain alcohol... it was pretty impressive.