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Cycling Around Iceland!


all seasons in one day 14 °C

Danger from Katla

Arriving in Vík í Mýrdal, southern Iceland in the early hours of the morning was spectacular. The weather was still. The inhabitants of which is around 300, were all still tucked away in bed, and the only noise around for miles was the mix of sea birds and waves relaxing the mind. The fresh scent of salt water reminded me of been back at home, in a sea side fishing town such as Whitby. The presence was electric, maybe just to reach another settlement, but calming as well, odd. On the way into Vík you pass a rather surprisingly situated but oddly awesome golf course. The course follows the cliff which runs into the town. Only a 9 hole course I think, but still something to surprise and catch the eye. I can only imagine that it gets ridiculously windy around there and can sometimes be impossible to play.
The ride into Vík í Mýrdal was a pleasant ride itself. We had ridden from Kirkjubæjarklaustur over the last few days, and had received mixed weather conditions. Gods here really do like to remind you that Iceland is a rough and rugged country and shouldn't be taken litely. We had utilized the wild camping laws to the full on this stretch of road. There are plenty of places to set up your tent, but sometimes finding shelter from the wind is hard, comfortable surroundings can be hard to find anywhere, even on campsites! But why, why, why would you come to Iceland and cycle around the island if you weren't ready for that??
Vík, or Vík í Mýrdal in full is the southernmost populated point in Iceland. We found that the small town holds many delights to charm the weary traveller. The black sandy beach at Vík is beautiful, with great views over the stunning Reynisdrangar or 'basalt sea stacks' to me and you. They rise from the sea majestically, almost as if a tale of giant creature from the deep. Reynisdrangar is well worth a gaze for a few hours, especially when finding out that according to folk law, the basalt pillars were apparently trolls that were caught outside at dawn. The sea is supposed to be notoriously rough around these mythical stone trolls, not that we tested this theory, but I would tend to take local Icelandic advice when it comes to weather and sea conditions. It's almost as if they are all meteorologists. While sat on the black sands we couldn't help think how amazing the surroundings actually were. The black sandy beach was actually rated in the top 10 beaches in the world in 1991 by Islands magazine, an American publication. Contrary to belief however, Vík is apparently the wettest place in Iceland. Binary to most peoples views of perfect beaches I would expect. We experienced the beauty with a pinch of nice weather and a serious lack of people. Tourists that is to say.
Nearby to Vík is the impressive Mýrdalsjökull (mire valley glacier) which houses a little shop of horrors! Home to Katla, a volcano which has an eruption pattern of every 40 or so years, the giant hasn't blown its load in over 90 years, since 1918. It has a rather impressive 10km diameter caldera (cooking pot also known as a cauldron), the giant shares similarities with Yellowstone national park in America and Glen Coe in Scotland. Apparently scientists are monitoring it more closely since the eruption of the much smaller Eyjafjallajökull. Personally we were not nerved by the shadow of the volcano. Visiting is surely one thing but imagine living in Vík. The local people were heavily effected by the recent eruptions in 2010, but if Katla explodes, the flash flooding expectation is very high. This obviously is a huge worry to the population of Vik and the surrounding areas. If Katla explodes and manages to melt such an amount of ice, then the town of Vík í Mýrdal could be wiped out completely. The church in Vík is located high upon a hill, visible to all. It is believed to be the only building that would stand a chance of surviving flash floods. This in mind, is why the people of Vík periodically practice rushing to the church on any sign of an earth quake.

Most of our time in Vík was spent relaxing and hoping that we would get a chance to see, or take part in a flash flood practice evacuation to the church. We were unlucky in our both our hopes, but the relaxation was grand, and well needed. There is plenty to do in and around Vík. I would recommend this smart little village/town as a great place to base yourself if travelling in the area, or if passing through.

Icelandic lesson.......... some adjectives you could use to describe food..

beiskur - bitter
bragðgóður - tasty
bragðvondur - bad-tasting
feitur - fat
ferskur - fresh
harður - hard
hrár - raw
magur - lean
meyr - tender
mjúkur - soft
safaríkur - juicy
seigur - tough
saltur - salty
stökkur - crispy
súr - sour
sætur - sweet
þurr - dry

and to accompany the food.......

ávaxtasafi (m.) - fruit juice
bjór (m.) - beer
gos (n.) - soft drink
kaffi (n.) - coffee
kók (n.) - Coke, cola
mjólk (f.) - milk
léttmjólk (f.) - skim milk
te (n.) - tea
vatn (n.) - water
vín (n.) - wine
hvítvín (n.) - white wine
rauðvín (n.) - red wine
öl (n.) - beer, ale

Posted by tchgate 10:43 Archived in Iceland Tagged ecotourism

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