Iceland (III): the Viking Sushi Tour (West)

If you plan to visit just one town in the Snaefellsness Peninsula, I recommend Stykkisholmur. Arthur and I love seafood and sushi, so imagine our excitement when I found out about the Viking Sushi tour in town!

It was a sunny afternoon, blue sky at 55F, the weather couldn’t be better.

Bundled up in warm layers, we enjoyed ourselves up on the deck. If you don’t like wind and cold, they provided inside cabin downstairs to keep you warm and cozy.

We sailed pass a couple of small islets, our captain navigated the boat so close to the shore we could almost touch the cliff!

We saw three different kinds of birds nesting on the cliff, no puffins though.

The islets were delightful.  However, the crowning point of the tour was neither the birds nor the beautiful scenery!

Raw seafood tasting, Viking style, stole the show!

A big net was thrown into the ocean, then dragged up a few minutes later, taking with it a rich load of goodies!

There were scallops, sea urchins, starfish, crabs and mussels. Right on the boat they just cracked open the scallops and sea urchins, and handed over the scallop meat and roe of sea urchins to us!

And soy sauce, wasabi, ginger and chopsticks were provided.

We had NEVER had anything like that, so FRESH and so DELICIOUS!

Look at all the empty shells on the table!

The red sea urchin was pretty, but not edible. Also the mussels were not suitable to eat raw either.

We couldn’t finish them all, at the end the unconsumed sea creatures and all the empty shells got returned back to the ocean where they belonged.

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The tour lasted two and half hours. Since we couldn’t have mussels on the boat, we had steamed Icelandic blue mussels for dinner at a restaurant by the dock.  It was nice to dine on cooked food again, hard to sustain on Viking diet.

Our tummies were full.  Content and sated. Let’s call it a day!

Iceland (II): the Iconic Image of Mt. Kirkjufell

How to capture the iconic image of Mt. Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellfoss

Mt. Kirkjufell together with the Kirkjufell waterfall has become the iconic image of West Iceland, taking this shot was on my list of must-do in Iceland.

Only when I got to the location, I learned just how particular this shot was.

Mt. Kirkjufell #1

If you came from Snaefellsjokull National Park direction like us, Mt. Kirkjufell had no tip but a flat top.  The mountain displayed its iconic shape only at the angle after we passed it.

Mt. Kirkjufell #2

Not only that, the Kirkjufellsfoss, the waterfalls, were on the other side of the road.

The waterfalls were not by the mountain at all.

Mt. Kirkjufell #3

This shot was taken from the small bridge on top of Kirkjufell waterfalls; Kirkjufell mountain was on the other side of the road, left to the parking lot.

Only when you crossed the small bridge, standing on the left side (where all the people standing), then angled your camera to include both the mountain and the falls–Voila, you got the shot!

Mt. Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss

Ideally, during the sunset is the optimal time of the day to shoot Mt. Kirkjufell.  You would have colorful sky as the backdrop. We were not lucky that day.

On the way to Mt. Kirkjfell, Grudarfjordur, we stopped at Olafvik for lunch.  There we found a local soccer field.

Olafvik Soccer field #1

And an ultra modern church by the soccer field.

Olafvik Church

Mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, clean air and church, all must have somehow contributed to the outstanding performance of Icelandic soccer team in 2018 World Cup!

Iceland (I): Hiking the Glymur, the Highest Waterfall in Iceland

We just got back from 12-day trip in Iceland.  What a BEAUTIFUL country! If you love nature and outdoor, and photography, Iceland is for you!  

We just got back from 12-day trip in Iceland.  What a BEAUTIFUL country! If you love nature and outdoor, and photography, Iceland is for you!  For a country only the size of Virginia State, Iceland is packed with stunning beauty! In 12 days we circled the whole country along the 800-mile Ring Road, starting from the capital Reykjavik going clockwise to the west, the north, the east and ending at the popular south.

We hiked the Glymur waterfall (or foss in Icelandic) on the second day, it was a highly anticipated hike! 🙂

There was a description of the hike at the parking lot, and the signs were well posted at each critical turn.

The hike was flat but scenic on the first mile.  It was an easy strolling until we reached an open cave.  Through the cave opening we spotted the Botnsa river, this was the river we would trail along to get to the foss.

The glacier water from the Botnsa river was so clear and refreshing.  We filled up the water bottle, we would need it soon.

IMG_8110Both banks of the Botnsa river lead to the foss, however the right bank offered a better view of the foss.  A rope and a wood log were installed to help the hikers to cross the river.  The water was REALLY COLD!

After the river crossing, the path took a turn to strenuous ascension.  I had to hold on to the rope, it was quite steep.  At some area, we hiked on the narrow dirt path right along the dropping cliff! I don’t know about you, but looking back down to the river we just crossed, the cave openings looked like a pair of eyes, watching us…

Soon we spotted the vapor from the waterfall in the distance. With the waterfall in front of us, we kept going, up and up.

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Occasionally we paused to see how much we had accomplished. Can you spot people crossing the Botnsa river way down there?  The up right corner near the fjord was where we parked our car!

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In the following hour, we hiked and climbed.  Can you see the tiny people on the top of the cliff on the right? We would be in their position, soon!

For most part of hiking, the waterfall was in view except a few zigzag sharp turns we lost track of it. Again ropes were there to assist the hikers, very helpful!  Some no-name waterfalls were spilling here and there.

Almost there!

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And we did it! We conquered the Glymur, the highest foss in Iceland, Hooray!! Look at the people on other side of the falls, we decided to join them.  We found a shallow area and trod across the Botnsa river again, this time at the upstream of the Glymur fall!

Beware plodding across the Botnsa river, the water was not as shallow as some suggested: it came all the way up to Arthur’s knees and to my thighs!

Now take a good look at the waterfall at this side of the bank before descending.  It was all worth it!!

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After another long hour, we finally saw that open cave! So happy to see that pair of watchful eyes again!

IMG_1919 The whole hike from the parking lot back to the parking lot took us 4 hours to complete.  It was four-hour well spent!

A few things about the hike:

(1) I am glad that we took the hike at the beginning of our trip.  We followed Rick Steves’ suggestion, going west first driving clockwise on the Ring Road.  We were quite energetic.  If we did south first and Glymur at the end of the journey, it might be a different story.  So keep that in mind when you plan your trip.

(2) Glymur is a little more than an hour in the west of Reykjavik, so it can be a good day trip if you stay in Reykjavik. We did the hike in the morning, when we were done the parking lot was full. So do it in the morning to avoid the crowd.  It took us four hours because we took a few breaks here and there, it could be done in a shorter time.

(3) According to Extreme Iceland, Glymur used to be the highest waterfall in Iceland, with the height of 196 m, until recently a higher waterfall ‘Morsi’ in highland Morsarjokull glacier was discovered.  Because the new #1 is not well known and less accessible (I googled it but failed to find a photo of it),  people still call Glymur the highest waterfall in Iceland.

According to Google, there are more than 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland!!  I am a waterfall fanatic, we also hiked the Hengifoss,  the second highest waterfall (128m), when we were at Northeast Iceland.

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