Iceland // Day 2 [road to Vík]

The road to Vík was a relatively short one at about 180km.  After red-eyes into Reykjavik the day prior, we were glad to take our time getting out of the apartment, and happy to have just over two hours of driving ahead of us.  On the way out of town we dropped by Bergsson Mathus (because THAT BUTTER) once more for a hearty plate of sustenance before hitting the road.

Almost immediately after leaving Reykjavik, we found ourselves in unfamiliar landscape.  The mountains were beginning to reveal themselves, draped in a fresh snow and what I can only imagine to be an abundance of ice.  The roads were morphing under blowing drift — dry and wispy, our path transforming with every swirl.  We were cheerfully delirious — in awe of mother nature, gawking over each inch of this magnificent, foreign territory.

We had a handful of stops to make on the way, and although the snow had begun to fall at an increasing rate, we were excited to take in the sites.

First up: pit stop and gas up.  I’m only mentioning this because it’s important to note that having ample gasoline in your vehicle when driving the Ring Road is critical.  Weather in Iceland can be VERY unpredictable (which we found out later that same day!).  Often times roads are closed due to unexpected white out conditions and storms.  It’s not unheard of for them to remain unusable for many hours.  Because towns are few and far between along the path, it’s always a good idea to top off when you’re stopping for a pee break or a snack.  Trust me — you don’t want to get stranded without heat!

It’s also worth noting that in Iceland, diesel fuel has a black handle.  This is opposite in the states and we learned this the hard way.  Grateful for gracious mechanics and a quick engine flush in a middle of nowhere shop.  Oops!

Shortly after our little hiccup, we had our first encounters with the Icelandic horses.  To describe ourselves as obsessed would be putting it mildly.  Scene: a brake slam, a hard right, and a mad dash to the field with giddy smiles and cameras ready.  We couldn’t WAIT to scratch their noses and cuddle their faces.

We reluctantly meandered on from our beautiful friends to check out the Skógafoss, one of the biggest waterfalls in the country.  The snow was falling in buckets as we explored the waterfall, but it was stunning, nonetheless.  It’s massive fall was so powerful, I felt miniscule in the wake of its spray.  I can only imagine how gorgeous the bluffs must be when they’re green.

Our next, and most anticipated destination, was the Sólheimasandur plane wreckage site.  This destination is now pretty clearly marked (although there is no signage) and heavily populated by tourists, but it used to be difficult to find.  The plane cannot be seen from the roadway, but the coordinates are as follows: 63 27.546-19 21.887.  The wreck happened in 1973 when a United States Navy DC plane ran out of fuel and crashed on the black beach in South Iceland. Because no one seemed to mind the wreckage, the skeleton of the plane remains.  Everyone survived, so there are no ghosts running around, but it is quite eerie in its own right.  Aside from the breathtaking beauty surrounding it, the plane is a sight to be seen.  It’s a 45 minute hike in and out, relatively flat, but dreadfully cold in the winter months.  Be mindful of the weather!  We went in with sun, and came out in a sideways wind whiteout.  While worth it, but it was NOT pleasant.  Iceland has one of the best search and rescue teams in the world.  And it’s no surprise that they are on call frequently.  One rescue team reports being called to this very plane wreck a MINIMUM of once a day to rescue tourists that have lost their way or been carried out to see.  Be smart, people!

Due to the aforementioned white out conditions, we figured it best to head straight to our hotel in Vík.  The roads were getting worse by the second, and “traffic” was beginning to accumulate in the stormy areas.  Just outside of Vík, we were caught in a backup caused by the storm.  We cautiously continued knowing that we HAD to get to our hotel, despite the blizzard like conditions.  Thankfully, we passed the most treacherous areas only minutes before they roads were closed overnight.  While checking in, we overheard the hotel turning stranded drivers away over the phone.  This is why you must always have gas!   Commence wine drinking!

The following morning we awoke to sunny skies.  The snow fall must have continued while we rested, but the roads had been plowed and sanded by the time we were heading out.

Before leaving town, we made sure to snap some shots up at the Vík í Mýrdal church.  The moody sky made for some magnificent photos.

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Next up: the road to Djúpivogur!

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