Our first day in Vík felt like it was right out of a dream. We drove to our little cottage in the countryside in the middle of the night, the road stretching for miles and miles before us. We played cello music as we traveled on the highway over veiny rivers and through mountain passes in the twilight. All was calm around us, but we were kept awake by the excitement of what was ahead of us in this new part of the country.
We would be staying at a cottage we rented at the foot of a glacier for the next week, just outside of the city called Vík in the south. We would be joining up with four other photographer friends in the coming days, exploring the nearby waterfalls, beaches, and glaciers.
After driving for what seemed like years, we reached our destination and immediately fell asleep upon arrival. The morning brought the sun streaming onto the rolling hills around us and made us aware of how unbelievably beautiful the south of Iceland was, something we couldn’t fully appreciate the previous night. The cottage itself was the most perfect place we could imagine. Decorated with rustic trinkets from the owner’s travels, each element of the place seemed to tell a story, and pulled us into it effortlessly.
Lizzy and I went for a walk in the countryside before Rob, Kelsey, and Sian had awoken. I felt like I had been transported to some place untouched by time, hundreds or thousands of years ago before society had claimed the land for themselves. It was as if I had stepped back in time, and it was unlike anything I had experienced before. I told Lizzy I wished I could stay there forever, and I meant it. If this was a dream, I didn’t want to wake up.
Eventually, we convinced ourselves to leave our cottage and venture out into the wide open south.There were mountains all around us, rising into the sky like ancient giants. I had seen mountains before, of course, but not like this. Droves of birds dashed to and from their nests in the cliffs, looking like pterodactyls to me.
We stopped in the city of Vík, partially because we needed food and partially because this is where Lizzy has decided to move to someday. It is a quaint little provincial town right on the ocean, surrounded by towering mountain cliffs and looking out onto jagged rocks in the bay. There is a large red church at the base of a mountain, on a hill above the city, and I couldn’t resist stopping and taking some photos with it. It was too perfect to be real.
Our first stop after Vík was the great waterfall Skógafoss. Iceland is known for this waterfall, as it is a natural landmark with hundreds of years of folklore surrounding it. One of its defining features is the almost constant double rainbow the mist creates at the base of the falls. It was the perfect location for photos, and we spent several hours that morning shooting at Skógafoss, enjoying the lack of tourists and the beautiful countryside surrounding it.
Standing beneath this gigantic waterfall was like nothing I had ever experienced. The roar of water above me, the mist swirling around me, the wind pulling at my dress and whipping my hair…it made me feel so small. This place was majestic in every way and I was so fragile in its presence.
I took so many Instaxes at the falls, and I was so happy with how they turned out. Here are a few:
As we drove, we noticed a field of horses, all roaming together freely in an open field at the base of a mountain. We couldn’t resist stopping to take some photos of them and make some new friends. These horses were different than the horses I am used to in the U.S. They were friendlier and calmer, and they seemed to be at peace in their environment. They weren’t fighting with the other horses and there were a few pairs that stood side-by-side and groomed one another like they loved each other. It was too precious for words, and my photos couldn’t capture how magical interacting with these creatures truly was.
Our assumed last location of the day was the waterfall called Seljalandsfoss. We were excited to visit these falls, because we knew there was a walkway behind the waterfall that one could explore. At the point when we reached the waterfall, however, we were becoming tired and lethargic, and did not want to take as many photos as we had been taking throughout the day. Instead, we decided to simply enjoy the falls, without pressuring ourselves to capture any kind of amazing photographs.
As we drove on our way home from Seljalandsfoss, we saw a sign pointing towards a glacier in the mountains that we had yet to explore. We were cold and tired from a long day, but we couldn’t resist the desire we had to at least give the glacier a look, and maybe it would be a good place to explore later. What met our eyes when we reached the base of the glacier, however, was too incredible to save for another day. We HAD to photograph here. The black and white patterns of the glacier’s ice mixing with ash from the volcano was a breathtaking sight, and I immediately snapped into photographer mode. The blue light of twilight made for a perfect scene, and I knew just what I wanted for my photos. Luckily, my friend Kelsey was willing to model for me in the harsh environment, and I captured some of my favorite photos of the trip that evening.
This day in Iceland was definitely one of my favorites. We saw and did so much, and I gained an appreciation for this beautiful, strange, and ancient country in ways I never knew I would. I saw so many things that will forever remain in my memory, and I hope I can return here again someday. Something tells me this place will keep its natural beauty for years to come–I can only hope.
I’ve been a little slow at getting these blog posts going the past few weeks, but I will be updating more frequently from now on. I still have so many more images from my travels to share! Check back soon for our adventure at Reynisdrangar Black Rock Beach, the abandoned plane wreck, and Jokusalron Glacial Lagoon!