Author Topic: Something Fishy's Iceland Saga: Summer Edition  (Read 877 times)

Offline Something Fishy

  • Global Moderator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Posts: 5945
  • Total likes: 829
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 40
    • View Profile
    • My Flickr Page
  • Location: Not Brooklyn
Something Fishy's Iceland Saga: Summer Edition
« on: March 03, 2019, 12:33:13 PM »
Ah, Iceland. That tiny little country that is a shorter flight from New York than Los Angeles is, but that may as well be a world apart. An adventurer's and photographer's dream.

One of the most fascinating thing about Iceland to me is how different the country appears as the seasons change. Iceland in the winter and Iceland in the summer may as well be two completely different countries. The entirety of the landscape changes over from stark white to neon green, the sky goes from aurora to the midnight sun, and the waterfalls unfreeze and the animals come out.

Having had an absolutely epic trip to Iceland during the winter of 2015 (trip report here), I did another trip there in the summer of 2016, revisiting certain locations under their summer garb, and exploring a whole bunch of additional locations.

(Shameless plug here ;D: I'm running a third Iceland trip in May - see the details here if you're interested in another epic adventure.)

This trip was in July, which meant it never really got dark. We also had the full smorgasboard of Icelandic weather - hot, cold, pouring rain, and amazing sunsets - often within five minutes of each other.





« Last Edit: March 03, 2019, 12:36:18 PM by Something Fishy »

Offline Luvtotravel

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Dec 2012
  • Posts: 2507
  • Total likes: 38
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 6
    • View Profile
  • Location: Ny
Re: Something Fishy's Iceland Saga: Summer Edition
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2019, 12:43:59 PM »
U made my Sunday!
Don't wait for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect.

Offline mmgfarb

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Dec 2015
  • Posts: 7159
  • Total likes: 526
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 3
    • View Profile
Re: Something Fishy's Iceland Saga: Summer Edition
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2019, 12:54:54 PM »
Are you kidding me?! That's it?
"JS [is] a fetid cesspool of unvarnished linguistic manure, with lots of useless drivel and post-padding." -Moishebatchy

Offline Something Fishy

  • Global Moderator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Posts: 5945
  • Total likes: 829
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 40
    • View Profile
    • My Flickr Page
  • Location: Not Brooklyn
Re: Something Fishy's Iceland Saga: Summer Edition
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2019, 01:00:31 PM »
Are you kidding me?! That's it?

To get the full version you need to ba a Gold Member.

Offline 12HRS

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2013
  • Posts: 4485
  • Total likes: 206
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 6
    • View Profile
Re: Something Fishy's Iceland Saga: Summer Edition
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2019, 01:14:40 PM »
I guess painting things gold just doesn't cut it

Offline mmgfarb

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Dec 2015
  • Posts: 7159
  • Total likes: 526
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 3
    • View Profile
Re: Something Fishy's Iceland Saga: Summer Edition
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2019, 01:33:53 PM »
To get the full version you need to ba a Gold Member.
I'm already a Diamond Super Plat Adventurer, please give me access.
"JS [is] a fetid cesspool of unvarnished linguistic manure, with lots of useless drivel and post-padding." -Moishebatchy

Offline mmgfarb

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Dec 2015
  • Posts: 7159
  • Total likes: 526
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 3
    • View Profile
Re: Something Fishy's Iceland Saga: Summer Edition
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2019, 01:34:01 PM »
I guess painting things gold just doesn't cut it
Boo
"JS [is] a fetid cesspool of unvarnished linguistic manure, with lots of useless drivel and post-padding." -Moishebatchy

Offline Something Fishy

  • Global Moderator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Posts: 5945
  • Total likes: 829
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 40
    • View Profile
    • My Flickr Page
  • Location: Not Brooklyn
Re: Something Fishy's Iceland Saga: Summer Edition
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2019, 11:58:36 PM »
Getting there and Day 1

Forget about food and clothing; this is the really important stuff:



We departed Sunday night on Delta, JFK-KEF direct. Got an exit row seat, which was perfectly adequate for a short hop. The KSML was from Regal, and was your typical frozen chazzerei:





Spotted some weak aurora out of the window during the flight, which, upon closer reflection, turned out to the the reflection of my seatmate's green pillow.

Approaching Iceland's rugged volcanic coast:



We landed around 7am, and took the Flybus to the central bus station in Reykjavik, where we were picked up and taken to the campervan rental office. I used the same company I did last time, Camp Easy. They had gotten a new van in the interim, which was slightly larger than the one I had in the winter, so I booked that. Being that it was a manual transmission, I actually took a driving lesson before I left. However, as it turned out, the van was a manual/auto, which meant that it has a perfectly functioning auto mode... Oh well.

One of the add-ons Camp Easy offers is a portable grill, so I had pre-arranged with them to put a brand-new one aside for us. We got a couple of bottles of lighter fluid for the grill and the van's stovetop, stopped for some groceries, and hit the road.

The plan today was to head to the Vestmannaeyjar Islands to look for puffins. The ferry leaves from Landeyjahöfn, which is about 2 hours from Reykjavik. Being that it was now around 9 o'clock and the ferry departed at 2:45, we had plenty of time. However, this being Iceland, it was impossible to drive more than a few minutes without pulling over in awe. We therefore had to make sure to pace ourselves and leave enough time to get to the ferry on time.

Made it!:



The sheltered harbor on the mainland:





The captain has been running this route for years and has made thousands upon thousands of crossings:



View from the bridge. The weather was... Icelandic:




The crossing takes around half an hour, and the scenery - especially approaching the islands - is nothing short of incredible. There's a great variety of birds following the ship as well.

Northern Gannet:



Northern Fulmar:



Juvenile Northern Gannet:



Approaching the Vestmannaeyjar Islands you first wend your way past towering cliffs, rising sheer from the water. The cliffs are riddled with pockmarks and packed with thousands of nesting seabirds:





Masses of nesting Common Guillemots, Brünnich's Guillemots, and Black-Legged Kittiwakes:



Brünnich's Guillemots, aka Thick-billed Murres:





We disembarked the ferry right in the only town on the island (also named Vestmannaeyjar). This town of around 4000 was nearly wiped out in 1973 when the Eldfell volcano erupted, and was saved only by the shpritzing of nearly 7 billion gallons of cold seawater which slowed the lava flows.

Here's the volcano, towering above - and right alongside - the town:



A mural on a building depicting the disaster:



A signpost at the harbor points to various destinations on the island:



As you can see on the signs above, the puffin is something of a local symbol here (in fact, this is where Gordon Ramsey got bitten on the nose by one. Go Google it yourself if you want to see someone break the most-expletives-in-one-minute world record). This was indeed the main reason why we were here, to search for the puffins among the sea cliffs.

There sea cliffs were at the far end of the island, but being that this is a fairly tiny island it was a short but stunning drive:



Cool building:



At one point the road crossed over a thin spit of volcanic sand, with the ocean on either side bordered by amazing black-sand beaches:



Wider view, shot on the return trip:



We crossed the spit, followed the twisty one-land road to the top of the mountain, and parked in a small well-maintained parking lot. From there it was an easy hike to the edge of the world:



Hard to tell from this picture, but beyond that patch of grass is a straight 300-food drop to the rocks below. Perhaps this picture, taken from the parking lot, gives a somewhat better sense of height:



As soon as we got to the edge, we saw them - masses of puffins flying, diving, swimming, and heading in and out of their nests.

Only one problem - puffins are famously ridiculously difficult to photograph. They're extremely fast, extremely small, and extremely erratic. Forget about achieving proper focus; it felt like an exercise in futility to simply keep them in the viewfinder. But as is often the case when photographing birds, with enough patience you are able to find patterns and use those to your advantage. So instead of trying - and not succeeding - to take pictures, we simply sat and observed, and enjoyed the spectacle.

After a while, we began to notice that many birds would fly out of the cliffs close to the water, dive down to fish, and then emerge with a mouthful of eels in a certain area. They would then fly way up, almost to eye level with us, and dly to the right before disappearing into the long grass beneath which their burrow nests are dug. With that knowledge, our odds of getting a good picture multiplied exponentially:

\



Sitting on top of the burrow:



Good view of the eels (and their eyes):



@Moishebatchy kept on getting too close to the edge and freaking me out (these cliffs are crumbly...):


Photo by @lfas25

But he did win in the epic socks department:



Lots of Icelandic sheep were wandering the cliffs, such as this guy:



And this terrifying spawn of the Devil:



More puffins:





Shooting:



Northern Fulmar:



After a couple hours watching the birds, it was time to head back:


Photo by @lfas25

Taking some more pictures near the parking lot:




Photo by @lfas25


Photo by @lfas25

Common Redshank:



Trying to get back up....:



The parking lot sits at the top of a mountain, with nothing but the sea and a bunch of steep-sided green islands in sight. There was no one else around, and we were having a nice time relaxing a bit on the ultra-soft grass near the lot, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

"Mincha! Mincha!"

Wait, what?

But no, we weren't imagining things. Like mushrooms after a rain, a whole bunch of Israelis had suddenly sprouted out of nowhere and wanted to make a minyan. Here, in a remote spot on a remote island in a somewhat-remote country, it looked like Coney Island on Chol Hamoed. The Israeli group beckoned us back to the parking lot and their tour bus, and we davened a lovely mincha:





After davening we schmoozed for a little while, and it turned out that none of them were able to get their Icelandic SIMs to work in their Israeli phones. As soon as they realized that @Moishebatchy a. spoke fluent Hebrew and b. knew how to set up their phones, they promptly formed a neat line and crowned him Tech Support Czar.

In addition, they told us that all their kosher food had gotten delayed somehow. @lfas25, who had brought along enough nosh to feed an army, parked himself near Batchy and happily let them pick through his suitcase for the snacks of their choice:



After mincha and bidding adieu to our newfound friends, it was back to the dock and the return ferry. It was nearly 9pm now, but you wouldn't know it - it was just as light out as it had been at high noon.

On the way down the hill, another nightmare-inducing sheep:



The road down the mountain:









This poor Moai is seriously far from home:



A trail leading up to the volcano:



Tourists, fast boat, and selfie stick:



Back on the ferry, looking out towards the harbor opening:



Cool cave:



The birds in the cliffs were just an amazing sight:



Common Guillemots:



Trying to convince my wife to move here:



A group of 22 Manx Shearwaters:



Shooting on the ferry:


Photo by @lfas25

Another Northern Gannet:



Parasitic Jaeger:



As we got closer to the mainland, the sun peeked through the clouds for some amazing late-afternoon light, and made for some amazing "layers". It was now around 9:30pm:



The waterfall off in the distance to the left is one of Iceland many random roadside waterfalls, There are so many that this one doesn't even have an official name:



Waves crashing on the black-sand beach:



A colony of Arctic Terns:



Arctic Terns are stunningly beautiful birds, but they're nasty little buggers who will dive bomb you at the tiniest provocation. We were to have many run-ins with these guys on this trip:







These birds also have to longest migration route of any living thing by far, traveling up to a mind-blowing fifty-six thousand miles per year as they migrate between the Arctic and Antarctica.

Back on dry land, we had one more stop for the day: Seljalandsfoss, one of the most spectacular waterfalls on Earth. Seljalandsfoss is a quick 12-minute drive from the ferry dock, but unfortunately for us it had gotten cloudy again.

The falls are plainly visible from the main road:



The time was now about 11pm, just in time for sunset. Hoping against hope that the sky will suddenly and inexplicably clear, we began the short hike up to the falls themselves, and then - unique to Icelandic waterfalls - actually behind the falls.

And right on time, the clouds parted and a brilliant setting sun emerged. Words cannot explain the feeling of standing behind those falls, freezing cold and soaked to the bone (camera included), and watch that sunset. Truly a mid-blowing experience. No other words:



There was simply no way of topping this, so off to bed it was. We found a quiet place to park for the night about 10 minutes away, had dinner, and went to sleep.

Offline Luvtotravel

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Dec 2012
  • Posts: 2507
  • Total likes: 38
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 6
    • View Profile
  • Location: Ny
Re: Something Fishy's Iceland Saga: Summer Edition
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2019, 12:24:54 AM »
waiting for this last pic to show up as my next Windows Screensaver. seriously though, incredible writeup and awesome photography
Don't wait for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect.

Offline mmgfarb

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Dec 2015
  • Posts: 7159
  • Total likes: 526
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 3
    • View Profile
Re: Something Fishy's Iceland Saga: Summer Edition
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2019, 12:28:29 AM »
Absolutely gorgeous, another fantastic addition to the "here's a teaser, now I'll let you wait two years for the next installment" club.
"JS [is] a fetid cesspool of unvarnished linguistic manure, with lots of useless drivel and post-padding." -Moishebatchy

Offline ruv

  • Dansdeals Gold Elite
  • ***
  • Join Date: Oct 2017
  • Posts: 112
  • Total likes: 13
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
  • Location: Brooklyn
Re: Something Fishy's Iceland Saga: Summer Edition
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2019, 12:31:54 AM »
Very interesting and well written. Awesome pictures!

Offline 12HRS

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2013
  • Posts: 4485
  • Total likes: 206
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 6
    • View Profile
Re: Something Fishy's Iceland Saga: Summer Edition
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2019, 12:34:15 AM »
Absolutely gorgeous, another fantastic addition to the "here's a teaser, now I'll let you wait two years for the next installment" club.

Boo

Offline mmgfarb

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Dec 2015
  • Posts: 7159
  • Total likes: 526
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 3
    • View Profile
Re: Something Fishy's Iceland Saga: Summer Edition
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2019, 12:40:31 AM »
Boo
Boo you, if you have nothing constructive to add, don't add it  >:(
"JS [is] a fetid cesspool of unvarnished linguistic manure, with lots of useless drivel and post-padding." -Moishebatchy

Offline Yehoshua

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 9365
  • Total likes: 87
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
Re: Something Fishy's Iceland Saga: Summer Edition
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2019, 01:20:37 AM »
Great start to a TR. Pics look beautiful as usual.

Offline Moshe123

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Sep 2012
  • Posts: 4614
  • Total likes: 85
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Spring Valley
  • Programs: Lost
Re: Something Fishy's Iceland Saga: Summer Edition
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2019, 01:26:28 AM »
This is insanely beautiful!!!