Day 4 – Driving South Iceland back to Reykjavik

The last day of our South Island trip, we were heading from Vik back to Reykjavik for Iceland Airwaves festival. Our plan was to see the infamous black beach, Dyrholaey and be at our apartment for 3pm, as we had to return our car by 3:30.

So off to the black beach – it was less than 10 minutes drive from our hotel, and when we got there, it was raining and blowing a gale, all whilst the sun is shining!

Black Beach at Vik (Reynisfjara)

Then it was time to visit Dyrholaey. it was a landmark already programmed into the SatNav, however we were expecting to be taken onto the beach aside it. Not onto the cliff overlooking it. It was the scariest drive of my life, so steep with what looked like a sheer drop to the side of the single car pathway. Once we reached the top and I stepped out of the car I seriously felt ill, the thought of driving back down was terrifying. However it was more than worth it for the view – also worth mentioning that there is a WC up there, should you need it!

Dyrhólaey

Dyrhólaey

The drive down, oddly enough was less scary, even though we had to deal with passing a car, which was a bit hairy! Then it was time for the drive back to Reykjavik, which again was full of natural wonders, such as snow capped mountains, more waterfalls, at one point we got stuck in some very slow moving traffic, behind a hearse!

We arrived at our apartment just before 3pm. Went to check in, and uh-oh, no keys left for us. This was despite having email confirmation and making payment 10 days before arriving, our booking had been lost… we were then given a room that was technically an upgrade. Yay, we thought, but it is a weird room, we gain a sofa to watch tv on, but lose a wardrobe – there’s a chest of drawers but this was stuffed full of spare bedding! We’ve actually stayed in this same apartment block for the previous 2 years, so weird to find that the luxury room doesn’t have a kettle, or tea, coffee & oil for cooking – which were previously provided in our basic room. Unessassary shopping trip ahoy.

Anyway, we didn’t get up to much else, after sorting our room situation we mnaged to get the car back to BSI with seconds to spare. No extra payments were made, at times we did wonder whether all the pot holes and gravel roads would end up with some additional fees for damage, but thankfully not.

We then headed directly to Harpa to collect our wristbands for Airwaves, followed by Lebowski for a burger – its a personal tradition. And at this point we’d realised we hadn’t eaten since breakfast!  We then headed back to our apartment, too tired to head out for some early starting Off-venue events, and this played in our favour, as around 7:30pm the Northern Lights came out in full force! Although many, many guides seem to insist that you need clear, dark (ie no light pollution) skies, here is proof of what you can see & photograph, when your back yard is awash with street and security lights!

Aurora over Reykjavik

Day 3 – Driving around South Iceland

a tarmac road dissapearing into the distance

Today’s mission was quite simple – to visit Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, approx 2.5 hours drive east from Vik. It did take slightly longer, to once again being exposed to amazing scenery along the way. Waterfall after waterfall, rainbows, endless expances of lava fields, black volcanic matter, green mossy hills, some parts reminded me of the teletubbies landscape.

waterfall falling from a mossy hillside
One of many waterfalls

We were starting to get distracted, then realised we needed to get a move on and made it to Jökulsárlón around 2:30 in the afternoon, thankfully. After being there about half an hour it started to rain, hard, however by this point we were warming up with coffee in the cafe, which also sells soup and sandwiches, and souvenirs. Oh and free wifif – just ask at the desk for a code!

Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon blue icebergs against backdrop of mountains
Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

Back on the road towards Vik, we tried to stop off at the places we’d seen but not had time to stop at, most of the area is known as Katla geopark, and if you stop at the rest stops marked with signs indicating a picnic area, there are boards with information about the area.

a tarmac road dissapearing into the distance
The 1, ring road

Once we arrived back in Vik, we ended up going back to Hallsdorkaffi for dinner again, as we’d managed to yet again missed lunch (after a trip to Vínbúðin to stock up our room). Then exhausted, we headed back to our hotel, where we had a power cut, more rain, more rain, and upon reading about a high magnitude of aurora activty, set my alarm for 6am. unfortunately there was too much cloud (rain cloud), so back to bed we went.

Driving around South Iceland – Day 1

communl area of sofa with low lighting

Yesterday we arrived in Iceland for the 3rd Airwaves festival in a row. Except this time, I decided it would be an excellent idea to tag on 3 days at the beginning for a South coast trip. Which sounds like fun for most people, except I was terrified, despite having driven around the US for 10 days, including navigating LA’s 7 lane highways, for some reason I was super nervous.

We landed at Keflavik airport, and after checking over our vehicle (and going back to report more damage – including a large window chip that only showed up as the windows steamed up, as we sat there trying to work out controls), we hit the road. Panic set in after about 20 minutes; we’d been feeling chipper as the GPS said we only had 20 minutes to our destination, then we passed the turn off the for the Blue Lagoon, which I knew was North on the way to Reykjavik, so we figured something had happened and the GPS hadn’t saved our destination of Stokkseyri. We found a ‘viewing platform’ to pull off at, reprogrammed the GPS and instead of turning us around, we carried on North, with me feeling stressed… I’ve since found out that there are two routes, the route that goes past Reykjavik is only 1 km and 2 minutes longer than the Southern route we were expecting to take. So panicking for nothing.

It turns out we arrived at our (rather gorgeous) B&B the time we estimated, dropped our bags and headed back out the way we came, to Selfoss for dinner. Anthony had found a great place called Kaffi Krus online, which turned out better than we even expected, after viewing the menu online. It was so cosy, full of locals and happy chatter. I had the greek salad, I dont normally order salad in resturants, but a greek salad (feta and olives, OMG) with cajun chicken – had to be done and didnt disappoint! Sadly we were too full to try any of the delicious cakes they had in the cabinet.

Cakes at Kaffi Krus
Cakes at Kaffi Krus

After dinner we drove back (again, the same road) to Stokkseyri, to fully appreciate our B&B – called Húsið við Hafið (the house by the sea), it’s a beautiful wooden house, set by the sea – in the dark we couldn’t fully appreciate just how close. After settling in, and cracking open a couple of Icelandic beers picked up from the airport, we jumped in the hot tub out on the veranda for a while Unfortunately the Northern Lights weren’t playing out but that didn’t reduce our enjoyment at all!

woman in a hot tub outdoors at night
Hot Tub!

Photos of the cakes and me in the hottub courtesy of @lukewarmdog

Redeye Network Event – Moy Williams

Last week saw the Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester playing host to another of Redeye’s Network events. On entering I was directed initially towards a series of photos in the upstairs space entitled “The loneliest road in America”,  of what I would call heavily processed photos to enhance surface and texture whether of the landscape or skin. This confused me somewhat as I had been expecting a talk by someone introduced as “Manchester’s Best known fashion photographer” to be talking about their fashion work, (note to self – read the blurb first) so this was an unexpected joy, as I most definitely prefer looking at scenes of Americana that people pouting in expensive clothing.

Moy Williams has been ‘in the business’ for approx. 25 years. This trip in 2010 was the first time he’d taken time out for a personal project.

© Moy Williams

He started the talk by showing a slick presentation of his commercial work from the past 2 years including a very well known Beckham shot (above) and Fashion shoots for brands such as Henri Lloyd (some gorgeous black & white shots on film!) and Rohan, and he kindly answered all manner of technical questions related to his fashion work and the behind the scenes processes. However I’m not ashamed to say that I was just eager for him to get onto the road trip photos after the speak preview upstairs.

© Moy Williams

Williams was there to promote “The Finest Piece of Black Ribbon” a book he’s created of images from his three week East to West Coast road trip along Route 50. Somehow whittled down to only 30 shots (I think that’s how many he said were in the book), it’s taken almost 18 months of selecting and re selecting to come up with the final book of images. It’s a shame I can’t find a link to it online as it’s a really beautiful book, maybe I was more interested than most as we also did parts of Route 50 in Nevada / Utah on our Honeymoon Trip earlier this year.

Williams’ talk was filled with amusing anecdotes including how he nearly got killed by Hells Angels, and when asked if he could do it again what would he change, he replied “I’d talk to more people” although the book does have quite a lot of interesting characters already.