I was picked up by the guide from the hostel at 9am, and we just went straight out until 11pm, visiting so many different sights. Since it was dark at 9am, it took a little bit before I could start taking pictures...this was the first scenerey I could see:
Iceland is very flat, except for the volcanos and glaciers. And I knew there were volcanos, but I didn't realize that all the volcanos are located with glaciers! So when they erupt, they don't just worry about the ash, but there is always a lot of flooding from the snow and ice melting.
Our first stop was a waterfall, which you are able to walk behind, except that it was too icy...it was hard enough just walking up the path to get close to the waterfall:
It was just amazing to be driving for hours and see no signs of people; there are only about 300,000 in the whole country, most of whom live in/near Reykjavik. Ingo, our guide, told us that it was only in 1974 that they built a road around the entire country; before that, there were places you could only get to by plane.
My first favorite part of the day was when we stopped to visit some Icelandic ponies! They live outside year-round, and in the winter grow a really thick coat. They are absolutely adorable, we got really close but were told not to touch them, since they are a little more wild than regular horses, being outside all the time.
Next big stop was another waterfall...this one had a set of stairs next to it, that you could climb for a great view, which I did - over 800 steps! Definitely got the day's work out in!
Then we went to what I was waiting for: a visit to a black sand beach. I had been afraid that the beach might be covered in snow or ice, but it wasn't at all and it quickly became my favorite stop of the day. There is a terrible current here, so even in summer you can't go in the water. I'd love to just lay out on the beach though; what was also strange was there were no shells, no seaweed, absolutely nothing on the beach except sand.
What the pictures don't show is how extremely windy it was! I never got too close to the top of one of the cliffs, because you could've seriously been blown over. Walking into the wind was extremely difficult, and when it was blowing at your back, it pushed you along. It was just such a constant force; I've felt wind gusts that feel like it could blow you over before, but this was different since it wasn't gusting, it just wasn't letting up! I thought it was interesting that most beaches in Iceland are black sand, from the volcanos, but there are a few white beaches in the northeast, from shells.
Next we had a very late lunch stop in Vik, which is the village closest to the black sand beaches we visited.
Unfortunately the sun soon set, and then you have no idea what you are missing outside the window. We spent the night in a village called Hali, close to the glacier lagoon. After dinner, Ingo took us out to try to see the Northern Lights, which he almost didn't because the forecast was for low activity and clouds. We spent an hour and a half outside the glacier lagoon, which was beautiful and eerie in the dark, but no lights. The sky though, when the clouds broke, was amazing - so many stars, quite a few falling stars! Standing on a hill, surrounded by a lagoon, looking up you just felt so very small with these stars beaming down on you.
It was a day full of amazing sights - I'm excited about what today will bring! We hope to see the sun rising over the lagoon.