15 Apr 2017

Iceland #12 - Days 10 & 11 - Brúarfoss, Faxafoss, Kerið & more Jewellery!

My last full day in Iceland was also a rather relaxed one, with only a short distance to cover, from Geysir to Álftanes.

First stop was a repeat visit to Brúarfoss. I expected the Italian photographers to be there (I'd spoken to one the previous night and he said they were staying nearby and would be there), but the place was empty when I arrived at 7.30am. Obviously I knew exactly where to go now, so no time wasted trying to find the place, and no problems parking on the bend in the road. The skies didn't look very promising for a particularly interesting sunrise; there was a little colour in the sky, but only very slight.

As the sky brightened up a little there was a touch more colour, reflecting on the water. Unlike the previous evening I had to turn the polariser to a point at which the water wasn't black, otherwise I couldn't capture the sunrise colours reflected in the surface of the water.

The cloud above me began to thin, and some of the clouds glowed pink.

I wandered along the river bank as the sun finally began to illuminate the waterfalls. I stopped to eat my cold pizza - perfect breakfast along the shores of this beautiful river.

The sun came in and out, illuminating the falls and the birch shrubs that surround the area. I kept looking back towards the bridge, expecting the Italian group to appear, but they never did - I was all alone the whole time I was there.

I find it so hard to tear myself away from some places, and this was certainly one of those places. I wish I'd had an even long zoom lens so I could capture more of the detail of the main falls. The sun began to disappear, so I headed back to the car. The birch trees were beautiful, some of them dripping with raindrops. The colours made it look autumnal, but it was just the branches are very red.

I got back to the guesthouse and saw the owner and asked if she had any milk - I was desperate for a cup of tea! She reappeared with a jug and I sat and chatted with her for ages while drinking my tea - she grew up in Sweden but moved over to Iceland in her late teens and stayed. I had hoped to go horse-riding there - given that it's a horse farm - but they don't start riding until May or June. Obviously I'll have to return in the summer or autumn! Eventually I packed up (I noticed that I had a view of Geysir and there was a slight rainbow as a storm passed over) and said goodbye to the woman and her lovely sheepdog.

I headed south, next stop Faxafoss, as recommended by the German guy I'd met the previous evening. It was just off the 35, and I was surprised I'd never heard of it before. There was a car-park which was already pretty full of people. I wandered along the top of the bank overlooking the falls to get a view of it in its entirety. It was quite an impressive waterfall - as many of them are - and named after a horse's mane, as the shape resembled that. Unlike Brúarfoss the water beneath the falls was a deep green, not blue.

I walked back along the path, wanting to get closer to the river, stopping to take a few macro shots of the birch trees.

I took the path down to the river's edge and walked along as far as I could, hoping to get a better view of the falls - and perhaps even a rainbow, if the spray and sun combination allowed it. The path was through rocks, covered in moss and lichen and interspersed with small shrubs. The macro lens was on, and I took quite a few shots with it!
Next stop was the crater lake at Kerið - one of the few places in Iceland where you have to pay to "get in". I'd been there once before and wandered around the crater rim, and did the same on this occasion. It wasn't possible to walk down to the lake's edge (too slippery), so I was only able to enjoy the frozen patterns on the surface from above, which was a shame as the ice patterns were wonderful. The sun came out from time-to-time as I walked.

The walk around the crater doesn't take very long, and it was nice to get a view of the nearly-round lake below and the surrounding countryside, which is dotted with summer houses. I became fascinated with the shapes and patterns of the ice, and wished I could have got closer. Changing the position of the polarising filter the colours looked completely different too - ranging from grey to green and blue.

As I reached the far side of the crater the sun again was struggling to break free from big dark clouds. People walking around the crater rim on the opposite side looked like little ants.

Next stop was Reykjavik. The drive was pleasant, and I stopped only once near Hveragerði to take a shot of a cute church in the afternoon sun.

I always love the drive up the massive Hellisheiði hill, and then the long drive across the plateau, which is always covered in snow, with Reykjavik eventually coming into view. My first stop was at back at Orr to get another piece or two of their fantastic silver jewellery. I parked near a hotel a couple of blocks from the shop - this time no problem worrying about meters as it was after 5pm so I was allowed to stop. I popped into the hotel to use the loo and then wandered down to the shop. Kjartan was pleased to see me and I was pleased to be back. I began trying on numerous rings and necklaces, and finally ended up with a necklace to match the first earrings I'd bought from there by mail order last autumn, a matching ring, and another ring. That place is heaven! I told the woman working there - a beautiful Icelandic woman with a short blonde bob - about how my Australian friend had recommended it and she said "did she come in here on the culture night last summer?" and indeed she had, so she remembered her! They gave me a nice little discount and off I went, having spent a little more than planned, just like last time!

I made a quick stop at Perlan, where you get fantastic views of the city from the viewing platform at the top. The place is being renovated, but the terrace was still open. Unfortunately the cloud wasn't being very cooperative, so generally the city was in shade and looked a little dull. I'd also only taken the 100mm macro lens up there with me, so my photographic opportunities were limited at that focal length. 

The day wasn't over yet - last stop was Álftanes to see my friend Sigrún. The drive there from Perlan was very quick - being Saturday there wasn't a great deal of traffic. I was greeted with a delicious salmon salad - nice to get some vegetables again after a rather limited diet of tuna pesto pasta, burgers and pizza! She had also made a delicious crumble tart - I do get spoiled there! I realised that I hadn't actually had any lunch, so I gobbled down a few portions!

I was aware that the sunset was rather nice but almost missed it through laziness. I finally kitted up and went outside and along the road to the beach. I just caught the sun as it dipped below the horizon, and then watched as the colours and clouds changed as it got dark.

The northern lights forecast wasn't up to much, so after sitting around chatting for a while I had an early night. My flight home the following day wasn't one of the horrible early ones, so I didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn. It was nice to just be a bit more relaxed. I got up late, had a nice breakfast with Sigrún and the kids. Her father popped round and he showed me some fantastic old photos of the summer house they had built in the Borganes area. I finally set off around midday. I had thought of driving out to Garður to take a few pictures of the lighthouses there, but I was nervous about the car damage and just wanted to sort that out as soon as possible, so instead just drove to the car rental place. The man asked me how everything was, and I told him that a bit of the trim appeared to have come down. He went out and checked the car on the outside and made sure I'd filled up with diesel, before getting in and driving the car away. I had a nerve-racking few minutes and then he reappeared. "So what's the deal?" I asked and he said "everything's fine". I was shocked - I hadn't remember doing anything to cause the damage, but the trim was definitely hanging down a bit. I wanted to ask him a bit more, but thought I should just keep quiet! So he gave me and some other customers a lift to the airport terminal and that was that! Such a relief, knowing that I didn't have to worry about insurance claims, etc. After dropping off my backpack at the oversized luggage area the next chore was to do the VAT reclaim on my jewellery (which amounted to quite a bit!). It was an easy process, filling out a couple of lines on a receipt that Orr had provided each time, and then giving it to a woman behind the desk (and it was credited into my account a few days later, so all very efficient).

I headed through the bag check and into the departure lounge, and had a tasty open prawn sandwich, washed down with an expensive Myrkvi Borg beer.

An amusing little thing then happened - a guy wearing sunglasses was sitting up at a raised bar area and got up to go, leaving a pizza that he'd barely touched. A Spanish man on the opposite table to me then got up and brought the plate back to his table. He said to me "well, it's going to get thrown away otherwise. Do you want a piece?" I took one - it was delicious (lobster!). I then started to think that maybe the guy might come back, and lo and behold he did - he'd just gone up to the counter to get another beer! The Spanish guy moved his bag on the table to obscure the pizza as the man came back. He did look around, but didn't seem too bothered that his pizza was gone (he had put his napkin and cutlery on it, so it certainly looked as if he wasn't planning to eat any more). The Spanish guy and I kept exchanging guilty glances and smiles, but eventually the pizza guy left and there was no embarrassing exchange.

After that I wandered through passport control to the gate, and had to sit on the floor as there were only a handful of seats there. Eventually I was on the plane, after the bus taking us to the plane took us to the wrong one and then we sat next to a plane for ages, wondering if they'd got the right one this time. I sat next to a lovely English anaesthetist who lived in Clapham. We were talking about sunsets and she had been in the same area as me on the night I'd photographed my favourite rocks. She looked through her phone photos and there was one taken from the road near the rocks, and on the edge of the lagoon was a photographer - me! We spent the next three hours chatting about travel stories, taking my mind of my sadness at leaving Iceland. Unfortunately there was a lot of cloud over the Icelandic landscape, so my last glimpse was of the coast before it all disappeared.

Occasionally I took some photos out of the window - the sky was beautiful as it got dark and a full moon came into view. On the other side of the plane beautiful light flooded the cabin as the sun set.

I took the train back to Clapham Junction with my new friend and her companion and then the bus for the last bit back across the river to Parsons Green. My hubby and very excited dog met me from the bus. Another wonderful Icelandic trip was over, and it felt sad, as always, but I had the promise of reviewing the thousands of photos over the next few weeks, which always lessens the blow. And the next trip is only ever months away...

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