17th June is Iceland's national day - this year marked the 70th anniversary of their independence from Denmark. I didn't realise it was so recent, but history has never been my strong point...
Anyway, we spent the day on another coach tour - the South Shore Adventure with Reykjavik Excursions. It rained. I took far too many very similar photos, none of which are particularly spectacular. But it was a really interesting day, with a lot of stuff crammed in. Definitely recommended.
I've walked on/in glaciers in France and Austria, but mum had never seen one before. This one is covered in piles of volcanic ash. Pretty cool (terrible pun only half intended).
On our coach were a group of Chinese (I think) tourists, who were most definitely not dressed for it. However watching a lady in a miniskirt and heels totter around on top of a big lump of ice provided entertainment for the rest of us.
We stopped for lunch in Vík, and had a very short walk through the lupins. If I was to summarise our trip to Iceland in three colours, it would be black (ash/lava), bright green (grass) and purple (lupins). They're everywhere! Apparently originally planted because they're good at getting nutrients into the volcanic soil, so other plants will grow. Our view from the bus windows was frequently a sea of bluey purple.
A black sand beach with basalt columns and sea stacks. Very pretty! We saw at least one puffin flying overhead, so mum was happy.
The badly dressed Chinese ladies were sinking into the sand in their heels, which was quite funny.
Skógar folk museum and Skógafoss
At the museum, a guide whose name I've forgotten showed us around the main indoor bits, and gave us a bit of a history of rural Icelandic life. He then left us to explore the rest of the museum, which includes some buildings outside - turf houses, a church and what I think was a schoolhouse. Oh, and some mini houses for the Huldufólk...
There's also a transport museum on site, but we didn't have time to wander around that too.
Next we headed to the waterfall. It's big! About a 60m drop. This part of Iceland has some odd geography going on - big cliffs with waterfalls falling off them, then several miles of flat (with random standalone hills) until you reach the sea. Something about the whole landmass tipping or rising, I believe.
Having taken a few photos from the bottom, I pretty much ran up the many stairs on the steep path to the viewing platform at the top, as we didn't have much time. Knackering! I reckon the best view was actually from a random unmarked path about half way up.
Another big fall, which you can walk behind. This might have been a large part of my reason for choosing this particular day tour. Definitely more impressive than Sgwd yr Eira (and any waterfalls I may have accidental ended up underneath in my kayak, ahem).
The badly dressed people didn't bother getting off the bus for this one, which was probably a good call.
On the drive back, rather than talk about the scenery we couldn't see for cloud, our tour guide got a bit political, ranting about Iceland's financial situation (amongst other things!). A topic of conversation that guidebooks suggest avoiding bringing up, as it's obviously a bit of a touchy subject.
Had pizza for dinner, because I've eaten pizza in every country I've visited so why break with tradition. It didn't have any tomato sauce, but was very tasty regardless.