14 Apr 2017

Iceland #12 - Day 9 - Skógafoss to Geysir

I didn't have a great deal planned for day 9 of my trip - a leisurely drive from Skógafoss to Geysir, hoping to finally find Brúarfoss on the way.

The cloud and rain had arrived overnight, so I got up relatively late and had breakfast around the communal table of the guesthouse. I chatted to the lovely Ukranian couple and was amazed that the woman worked for the frozen berry industry and attended trade shows around Europe (who knew?!). They eventually headed off and I chatted to some English people about photo books (must do one again - it's been a few years). I finally went up and packed and drove to the main car-park for the falls - it was already 11.20am!

There's something about Skógafoss. It's a strange waterfall - always busy with people coming and going, but there's just something that intrigues me about it and I can spend ages there watching visitors come and go. This was no exception - I spent a whole hour there, just taking pictures of the water falling and people enjoying the experience. I love watching the patterns the water makes as it falls, parting slightly from time to time. Today there was an annoying stretch in the middle which was just a grey spray. I'd taken the tripod out with me, but it was easier to just shoot hand-held, with the aperture a little wider - there was just about enough light for that. The amount of silly posing was quite high, and everyone was having fun.

There was a lot of selfie action going on too.

Sometimes, though, people just stand there, alone, looking up at the massive falls pouring down towards them.

Some people were just more interested in their photos.

I left at about 12.30pm and headed west, rain coming and going, but nothing spectacular like some storms I've witnessed before (particularly on my drive along that same stretch the year earlier). In fact the weather was just drab. I may have complained that the blue skies got a bit boring after a while, but they were better than this. Occasionally there was some visible rain, but mostly just grey.

I took one little diversion before my turn-off into the Golden Circle area. I turned left to go and investigate the cute little church at Odda, where a fellow Icelandophile friend had got married three years earlier. I didn't go in, but just took a couple of shots of the outside and some of the surrounding farms, with Vestmannæyjar visible on the horizon.

I continued on, taking the right turn onto the 30, then on the 31 and 35, before the lovely little 355 to get to my main destination for the day - the rather elusive Brúarfoss waterfall. I didn't stop along the way as the sky was dull and it was already quite late, given my lazy start. I had had a tab open for the past couple of weeks (I don't know why I didn't just bookmark it) with a woman's blog post about finding the waterfall (I've lost the link now). I'd tried a few years earlier, but there had been so much snow that the sides of the little roads leading towards the access point had high sides of shovelled/ploughed snow, and there wasn't anywhere to park or stop. I'd just managed to turn around and drive out the same way, disappointed not to have been able to find the falls, which sit at the end of a summer house enclave. This time there was far less snow, and I'd taken a few pictures of the map, and was now also aware that there was a little east-west river that had to be crossed before reaching the main river on which the waterfall sits. There is an access bridge, so once you've found that, you're on the right track. I took one wrong turn and ended up near some recycling bins which I remembered from my previous attempt. I turned back and took another turn in a roughly northwards direction. Soon I came across three parked cars on a slight bend in the road - a telltale sign that the access bridge was nearby. I drove a little further and managed to find a spot to park the car, not blocking someone's driveway or the narrow roads. I wandered back to the cars and some people were just returning to theirs. I asked if the bridge was near and they gestured in the direction of the pathway down to the bridge. It was actually very easy to find after that - across the little bridge, then following a well-worn path for about ten minutes. And then there it was - Brúarfoss - in its turquoise glory!!

It was already 4pm, but sunset wasn't until just after 7pm, so I had plenty of daylight left. There were a few people there, dotted on the bridge across the river as well as along the banks on the far side. The weather was still overcast and a spectacular sunset was not on the cards, but I still loved the place with its areas of intense turquoise and swooshing and swirling water.

I wandered around, and found a couple of great little spots under the bridge, where the viewpoint was a little lower, and watched the water swirling around. I became transfixed with the way the turquoise water swirled and took lots of shots of the water swooshing around at varying shutter speeds. Water can be quite captivating, especially when it's quite a surreal colour.

The view above the falls wasn't bad either.

I tried out various shutter speeds with different combinations of filters, but always made sure that the polarising filter was in a particular position to ensure the non-blue water was black - turn it around a touch and the water became grey and dull.

I spent three and a quarter hours there, trying many different angles and all of my lenses to capture this magnificent falls, before the light faded, my feet were frozen, a group of Italian photographers hogged the bridge, and Geysir and pizza beckoned.

I'd left it a bit late, and it was getting dark very quickly so I drove straight to Geysir, not far away along the 37 and then the 35. At least at that time of night there were very few other people there. It had a kind of eerie feel to the place, with the restaurant and gift shop closed, some building work going on in the distance and a strong cool wind. I wandered up to the main geyser - Strökkur - and waited. More of the surrounding area has now been roped off - I guess the result of tourists getting hit with hot water, or just general damage to the ground. It sometimes seems as if the wait between eruptions goes on forever - often longer than ten minutes. Finally it erupted but was a disappointing low one. I'd wanted to get a long exposure shot of the eruption, and given the lack of light that was definitely the only available way of capturing this now.
I watched a couple of eruptions before walking up the hill a little further to one of the other pools, the wind taking the steam away quickly.

I became very cold in the wind, but wandered back and watched another couple of eruptions. I always have this "I'll just watch one more" thing when I'm there - finding it very hard to drag myself away. I was too cold though and it was almost dark and I was hungry, so drove the last few km to my guesthouse, the Geysir Hestar. Luckily I'd checked out where it was on a map, otherwise I certainly wouldn't have found it, as the name on the sign is different! It was raining by the time I arrived and I rushed inside. The owner was a lovely friendly woman who showed me my room. The place is like a converted stable block with a long corridor and rooms off it, with names of the guests on little chalk stones on the wall outside the rooms. There were cushions and pictures everywhere with positive slogans, which usually I find very irritating, but they were actually quite uplifting! It was warm and cosy and I chatted briefly to a German guy in the lounge area, who recommended I visit a waterfall called Faxafoss the next day (there's always one I've never heard of!). I then got back in the car and drove to the pizza place just before the turn onto the main road. Rather handy having a pizza place so close by, otherwise I would have to have cooked, which I certainly couldn't be bothered to do! The pizza place (Skjól) was great, and I sat at the bar and chatted to the owner and an American/German couple who had been there a few times before and knew the owner. The pizza was really delicious. The beer selection was a bit limited, with none of my favourite Borg beers, but I still had a couple back in the car for later.

I took half of the pizza home with me for the next day's breakfast and drove back to my cosy room and did the usual photo downloading and speaking to hubby before setting the alarm early, as I wanted to get back to Brúarfoss in time for sunrise.

Click here for Day 8 blog - Jökulsárlón to Skógafoss
Click here for Days 10 & 11 blog - Brúarfoss, Faxafoss, Kerið, Álftanes & Home!

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