sloths go west

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

the maddening crowd

It's a glorious sunny day.  Our dampened spirits have been lifted by Margot's kindness and now the weather is perfect for our visit to Jokulsarlon a.k.a. the Iceberg Lagoon.  This is a place where one of the huge glaciers coming off the ice cap here ends in a lagoon.  Huge pieces of the ice break off and float about before heading for the exit out to sea.  And the waves then wash the icebergs up onto the shore.  It's quite a dramatic sight, on the beach, because the sand is black from lava.

We arrive mid morning and there's plenty of activity around.  We realise that for many people flying into Iceland this is probably the most eaterly point they will come to.  And the place is quite a drawcard.  We spend a little time walking around the shore of the lagoon and away from the carpark where there are less visitors.  The beach scene is fabulous.  

When we return to the road we become aware of an increase in the traffic.  This is definitely the endpoint for the majority of tourists.  Thankfully there is a nice easterly tailwind pushing us along, as this is also the stretch of ring road with no communities (shops).   We get a good long close up of some of the glaciers pouring off Vatnajokull.  We turn a corner and ride onto an enormous fluvial plain - a rocky landscape formed by the glaciers carrying rock debris out of the mountains and the huge rivers sweeping out to sea.  It's impressive but quite boring to cycle.  Happily we have some distractions- such as the turf-roofed church in a little hamlet.   And then we meet a chatty Italian cyclist coming the other way.  He looks frazzled and he tells us he's been fighting a headwind all day.  We do our introductions "I'm a man you welly" he tells me.  I look askance.  "Emmanuel" he explains for me with the English pronunciation.  As we have the wind with us we crack on.  The road has been built up on a raised dyke along a large part of this coastline.  It's flat but there's not much of a hard shoulder.  The flatness means we can see quite a long way ahead but even we are surprised that the bridge we see in the distance turns out to be over five kilometres away.

Eventually we get across the fluvial plain and come to another turf-roofed church.  But this one is on a farm and the gates are closed. We leave our bikes anyway and go for a look around.  The farm is abandoned.  Back at the gates an Icelandic family turn up.  The man cries out "What's this nonsense!"when he sees the 'private property' sign. "This is a national historic site!" he declares, before they all troop up the track.  Just along the road we find another abandoned building and a footpath that leads us to a little rocky alcove that is perfectly sheltered from the wind that has pushed us over the 100km limit today.  This spot is one of Gayle's typical finds.  It's an ideal location but it requires a little more effort - in this case lifting our panniers and bikes over an old fence before pushing up a rocky escarpment to reach it.  Worth the bother?  Of course it is.  There's not a soul for miles.