The first half of the South Coast Tour was jaw-droppingly beautiful; full of lush, green land, gorgeous waterfalls and world-renown hiking trails. The second half was a completely different landscape, much like how the landscape of Iceland as a whole changes from mile to mile. Our first stop after the waterfalls was the quaint south coast fishing town of Vik, Iceland for a lunch break.
On our way there we passed miles of farmland and mountains, all of which was spotted with fluffy, little sheep. The tour van took the hills and curves at about 50mph, which was thrilling to say the least. We came over a hill to view Vik for the first time in all its cute, small town charm. Siggy, our tour guide, brought us to a roadside café for lunch. It was an order-at-the-counter kind of establishment, so our group made quite a long line. There were a lot of great looking local options, most of which came in the form of a stew. By the time I got up to the counter, I ordered a cheeseburger out of pure indecisiveness. It was pretty good! From the diner we could see the backside of the Black Sand Beach, with its telltale stone pillars lining up into the ocean.
We finished up our meals and were ushered back to the bus. We drove on to the front entrance to the beach and were set loose to explore. I love being anywhere near the sea, so this was my favorite stop of the day. The waves were quite large, and crashed onto the black stones on the beach, slipping through the cracks between them and sending tourists scurrying away from them to avoid getting soaked.
In addition to the stunning view of the ocean, the surrounding hillside and rock formations were strange and beautiful. Opposite the water was a hillside comprised of what looked like stone jenga pieces stacked up behind each other. Just to the right of this sculpted hill are the two stone pillars sticking up from the ocean.
If I were on my own schedule, I could have sat on the rocks watching the waves roll in all day. However, I was on tour time, so we moved on after spending 30-40 minutes admiring the Black Sand Beach.
Our next and final stop of the tour was the Solheimajokull Glacier, which was a little ways away. Siggy got out with us and walked us the half mile towards the glacier, giving us the facts as we went. Along the way, I got to talking to two retired teachers who travel together frequently, one was American and the other was Canadian. As it turns out, they were going to Copenhagen next too, so we made tentative plans to meet up there.
The tour stopped a bit away from the actual glacier and Siggy explained that the year before, the glacier had come up to the point where we stood. It’s been receding rapidly, and even when we moved up to stand next to it we could see the water running out from underneath.
The glacier didn’t look how I thought it might look; it was black on top with white and icy blue beneath. We walked up the glacier a couple steps, but only a couple because none of us had the spiked shoes needed to glacier hike. On the glacier, there were cracks that went through to the bottom, where I could see the water running underneath.
It was a lot colder by the glacier, so by the time we had to go back to the bus, most people were more than ready. The bus ride back to towards Reykjavik was pretty quiet as I think everyone was reflecting on all the beauty we got to see. The tour bus dropped us each off at our hotels, where we each thanked Siggy as we got off.
When I arrived back in my hotel room, I quickly changed and headed back out to get some dinner. I wanted to go to the Sea Baron, but the line was out the door, so I set about finding something else that was in my budget but wasn’t fast food. This is kind of a struggle in Reykjavik, because a lot of the restaurants are pretty pricey. After thirty minutes of wandering, I landed at Fish & More for their specialty, which was a sort of fish casserole served with broccoli, sweet potatoes, rice and rye bread with a Viking beer on the side.
It was either really delicious or I was really hungry. The restaurant had a really fun vibe, with stacks of National Geographic magazines on the side tables, comfy benches along one wall and bags of water (like the ones you’d bring a goldfish home in from the state fair) hanging from the ceiling. Their playlist was also really good, with bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Death Cab for Cutie. It was a great place to end a day full of adventuring.
Stay tuned for more adventures in Iceland!
Have you ever been on a tour through Iceland? Which one and what did you think?