Sunday, July 21, 2013

Vatnajökull Voyager Part Two

Our day didn't end after the glacier hike. We all piled back on the bus for a 45 minute ride to our next stop: Jökulsárlón, a large glacial lagoon. Jökulsárlón is at the head of Breiðamerkurjökull, an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull, and as the glacier melts the lagoon grows. The lagoon has roughly doubled in size in the last 15 years, and considering that the lagoon itself is only about 60 years old, you have to wonder how much longer it will last. Some people think that in the relatively near future there will be a fjord in place of the glacier in this area. 

Time for some icebergs!

I took this before the bumpy ride back out to the main road. I have no idea how the bus didn't shake itself apart with how our guide drove; we hit a few bumps that sent those of us toward the back airborne. It was great.   :)

I passed some of the time by taking pictures with my small camera. The scenery was fantastic along the way.

After a little while we got to the glacial lagoon. Our guide told us what time our boat left, and we had a few minutes to wander around to check out the scenery. 

Figures, I took this one with my cell phone and it wound up being one of my favorite shots from this part of the day.


They use duckboats to take people on rides through the lagoon. Supposedly these are left over from Vietnam; rumor has it some of them still have bullet holes. (I'm not sure how true either of those things are, but hey...either way, it makes them more interesting!) When it was our turn, we all piled onto the boat, put on our lifejackets, and were off! We drove around a corner, down a hill, and before we knew it we were cruising between the icebergs.

To say it was pretty neat would be an understatement.

You can just see the Glacial River Bridge in the background. Route 1 passes over the bridge, and as the glacier is retreating, the bridge is slowly being threatened by erosion.

After a little while we stopped cruising around and our guide told us a bit about the history of the lagoon. She also had some ice from one of the icebergs and let us see it up close. The ice is incredibly clear because of the low air content; I think they said it only contains 8-9% air. She chopped up the chunk of ice and we all got to eat a piece of iceberg.   :)

A couple of the icebergs were so clear they were hard to see. No wonder ships hit these things!

After our short stop we cruised around a bit more before heading back toward shore.

For how busy things seemed on land we only saw a couple other boats the whole time we were on the water. You don't realize how huge the lagoon is until you're actually cruising around in it.

It would have been fun to stay longer, but we had to get back to Reykjavik. Goodbye, Jökulsárlón...I'll see you again someday!

We took the bus back to the Visitor's Center, said goodbye and thank you to our guide, and got back on the bus to Reykjavik.

The drive back took just as long as the drive out there. I think I nodded off a few times, and we eventually stopped for dinner at a cafe where I had a tasty eggburger for dinner (think a hamburger with a fried egg on top of the bun. I put the egg in the burger and inhaled it). Zach and I wound up talking to a couple from Boston and two brothers from Toronto, which was really fun and helped pass the time. We made it back to the hotel right around 11pm (and once again, got dropped off first!), and since it was our last night in Iceland, we figured we'd celebrate with a drink before bed.

Post adventure drinks. They had a drink of the day that sounded really good - something with gin and cucumber and mint - but they were out of a couple things so I got a glass of wine instead. It was a nice way to end such a long day!

We eventually made our way back upstairs. I grabbed a shower before bed and took this picture at 1am. This is about as dark as it got; since the sun sets at 11:30pm and rises at 3:30am, it never gets darker then a weird twilight. That didn't matter, though...I was so tired I passed right out.

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