iceland part 3 | the southern coast

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These photos reveal how the majority of Iceland feels: empty. Most of the time, our surroundings looked like a playground for the last people in the universe. After our first night in Reykjavik we made our way to Hveragerði to stay at the guesthouse Frost og Funi (or the Frost & Fire, recommended to us by the Gallo's). Near the guesthouse was an hour hike which, through mountains and hills and snow and mud, led to a hot steamy river. Swimming in that secluded hot river, surrounded by snow and a below-freezing air chill, was beyond dreamy. Getting out and dressed and hiking the hour back with wet hair was less so.

Another night we slept in Hvolsvöllur -- only for the reason that it had a guesthouse with availability and it was somewhat near Vik, a town we knew we wanted to see. We showed up to the Godaland Guesthouse only to find a note to "call if you need to check in." Phoneless, we drove the ten kilometers back into town where the kind people at the gas station let us use their phone. Twenty minutes later we were back at the guesthouse with the sweet owners who showed us to our room, gave us fresh towels, and left. And aside from Pablo from Andalucía who arrived later that night, we were the only souls in this abandoned-feeling guesthouse/rec center in the middle of nowhere. In retrospect, it was one of my favorite nights. There were no open restaurants around so dinner was yogurt, chocolate, and wine. We listened to the Beginners soundtrack (our go-to at home) and left our door open dorm-style, with Pablo stopping by frequently to chat. He and Blake later took over the giant kitchen and made ramen mixed with doritos. I politely declined.

We got out of the car often -- sometimes to see the big attractions (the Skógafoss and Gulfoss waterfalls, the Great Geysir), and sometimes just to pet ponies, climb a little mountain or simply marvel at how small we felt in the vastness of the terrain.