I was able to sleep a bit better this night, waking up once at 4:30 to pee, but getting back to sleep easily. We had gone to sleep at a more normal evening time, not so early as the previous night, so I think we were quickly getting onto a more local schedule. This morning the plan was to fill up the gas tank and drive 2.5 hours to Jökulsárlón glacier and lagoon. The weather was atrocious again this morning, 20mph hour winds and sideways rain soaking us within seconds. It was not a fun start to the drive, but eventually we drove out of it into minor drizzle, and at one point even bright sun, but then back into the crazy wind and rain. The weather here is the most unpredictable and ridiculous thing. The drive, other than being strange weather on and off, was easy and somewhat interesting. The landscape was mostly volcanic rocks in a variety of presentations. Sometimes flat plains of it in crushed form, sometimes small piles of rocks, sometimes large boulders covered in lush green moss so they look soft enough to play in. We passed many more beautiful waterfalls, wild horses, sheep in pens, and eventually huge cliff faces as we approached the glaciers and mountains. After that drive I think I also believe in elves. As you’re going along you would swear some little critter or something is watching from afar and you’d stare at it as you go by trying to figure out if it’s a bird, or maybe a small mammal, or an elf.. but probably just a few oddly placed lava rocks.
We arrived at Jökulsárlón with enough time to use the bathroom and take a quick look around before our ice cave tour was ready to go. We piled into a van with about 13 other people and went on a very bumpy ride inland toward the glaciers. We arrived at an opening in the base of the glacier where our guides gave us microspikes and helmets and led us inside. I didn’t really know what to expect of an ice cave, but it was really really cool. We followed our guide for about 10 minutes as he showed us interesting things inside and told us about the cave and the ice. Some of it was not new information, like why it looks so blue, but learning about how the cave is created was interesting. Then we had a half hour to walk around and take all the photos we could ever want. Deeper in the back of the cave where there is more snow packed around inside it felt like an igloo. It was relatively warm and very sound proof. Further toward the opening where all the exposed ice is glassy and blue felt more like walking in an aquarium. Also, as it is the end of winter here, tomorrow is the last day they are taking guest into the cave before it will be too melty. We got lucky that we could experience that on our trip. The guide also said that the rainy weather outside makes for better viewing of the ice and blue colors inside the cave so it was actually a great activity to do in such otherwise abysmal weather. Overall a super neat experience.
We got back in the van and rode a very bumpy way back to the parking lot at Jökulsárlón. After some extremely windy viewing of the icebergs in the lagoon we thawed out in the cafe with some drinks and sandwiches before heading to the next stop on our list, Diamond Beach. This was just across the road on the coastal side of the area. It’s a black sand beach full of bits of ice and floating iceberg chunks that have been worn smooth by the water. They look like glass and diamonds everywhere, and it was absolutely worth a visit. Despite the brutal wind and cruel sleet pellets smacking us in the face sideways, we enjoyed watching the rough waves crash into the larger ice chunks. I had fun “diamond hunting” and playing with the smaller bits. Again, the gray weather actually brings out the blue color in the ice so that was nice, but I’m sure there are some cool aspects to visiting on a sunny day as well.
When we had our fill of playing with the ice chunks we got back in the car to start the 2.5 hour drive back to Vík. The wind and rain were just insane for the first part of the drive, but just like earlier in the morning we did drive through a section that was dry and sunnier.. weird place. Along the way we stopped off to look at another waterfall that just happened to be visible from the road, and made a pit stop at a gas station for a bathroom break and a snack. We picked up a box of Rís Buff that was recommended by a site as one of the best things to buy in Iceland as a gift. It’s a candy of a chewy marshmallow center covered in chocolate with crisped rice pieces. It was indeed very good and made an excellent road snack. We would definitely consider buying some of this as gifts to bring home.
We were glad to take off all the soaking wet layers back at the hotel and put on some dry clothes, after which we headed out to the other restaurant in town that is not inside our hotel, Halldórskaffi. There was no wait for that tonight. Perhaps because we came earlier or perhaps because it’s a different location. We sat right away and actually noticed the menu was darn near identical to the last night! Decided to get pizzas again, but the beer selection was not as good so I skipped that altogether. Overall we didn’t care for this place as much as the last. The staff was not nearly as friendly, even complaining that Iceland has too many tourists… and the pizza wasn’t as good in any case. Wouldn’t consider coming here again, good thing there are the other two options in town.
After dinner we just spent the evening planning our sightseeing for the next day.