Iceland Day 3 / by Meredith Washburn

Today we woke up to a large amount of rain and wind! After getting our car put back together (not much fun in the windy rain storm), we headed to Landeyjahofn where we hopped on a ferry boat, Herjolfur, bound for Vestmannaeyjar (also known as the Westman Islands). The ferry ride took approximately 30 minutes and once we arrived, the view of the islands was spectacular. Due to the wind and rain, the islands were covered in a thick, dense fog; nonetheless, captivating. When the boat docked, we could not figure out how to get back down to the section of the boat where our car was housed, so we left the boat. When we realized we had taken the wrong exit, we ran back onto the boat and quickly down to the area with our car. Our car was the last car remaining on the ship, and the ferryman was perturbed and quite nicely told us that we could have been fined 1,000 euros ($1111.10). So...for any of you who plan on taking this little extravaganza to the Westman Islands...make sure you don't slip up! It'll cost ya big bucks. haha.

Taking a sigh of relief that we finally were in our car cruising around the islands (without a large fine), we stopped by a few local grocery stores to try and find ice for our cooler. In a country called Iceland, I find it quite ironic that there is a significant lack of ice cubes or any sort of ice. What the heck?

By this point, we were hungry, so we pulled off in a little park area with a few Turf Houses and cooked ourselves some tomato soup! Well, actually, Ben cooked the soup in the pouring rain, while I sat in the warm car uploading photos. Sometimes I question why he married me :)...seems like I got the better end of the deal. 

After a quick bite to eat, we ventured to Saeheimar, an aquarium and natural history museum. We were so focused on getting to hold their rescued Puffin that we didn't even remember to view the aquarium! I could have cared less that anything else existed between those walls...my entire experience was dependent on holding the puffin (which turns out are quite tiny little things). The people working at the museum were so sweet and so patient. The boy in charge of the little puffin let everyone hold him and take turns taking silly photos with him on your head or shoulder. Since we hadn't seen a puffin out in the wild, we headed down to Storhofdi, the southernmost part of the island. From a bird viewing hut we saw a few puffins come out of their homes and even saw a seal swimming down by the caves!

Next up was the black beach. I had heard so much about the famous black beach in Vik that I did not really think that any other black beaches existed in Iceland. There are actually quite a lot of black beaches all around the southern section of Iceland (and each one equally impressive). There is something about watching the swirling white waves crash into the black beach that you cannot really comprehend; something your eyes take a few minutes to adjust to. It's literally like living in a black and white photograph.

Our final adventure of the day was scaling the highest point on the island, Heimaklettur. The climb consisted of almost vertical ladders, ropes, and chains in which you had to use in order to make it to the top. After the ladders, first chain and rope section, I was beyond terrified. I'm definitely not one who is scared of heights, but the climb just seemed incredibly dangerous in the conditions we were facing (fog, high winds, cold rain). About 1/3 of the way up, I realized I had gotten myself into something I was not really expecting. Ben did his best to convince me to push past my anxiety and make it up a bit farther (promising we did not have to make it to the top if I was too scared). Ben has pushed me to do things that are not in my comfort zone before, and I am always so thankful once I have done something I did not think I could possibly do. I decided to push on and climb the rest of the way. After more ropes, more chains, and tiny one-two foot paths up steep inclined cliffs, i made it to the highest point where I found a lone puffin. Looking in all directions, the wind and fog thrashing around me, I realized I would never be able to make it back down. I completely froze and panicked. I sobbed. For about 2-3 minutes, I sat at the top and just sobbed thinking there was no way I could move and climb back down. Ben calmed me down, assured me that if I made it up, I could definitely make it back down (that was the easy part). He was right. Climbing back down felt like a breeze. The relief of knowing I would be back on solid ground without the wind toppling me over each step was enough drive to push forward and make it back down the cliff side. After we got safely back to ground, I was really proud of myself for accomplishing something I never could have done on my own. Later on, we read directly from our Iceland Lonely Planet Travel Guide Book..."Heimaklettur is more perilous, with wild rickety ladders...when its rainy or slick [it is not] a good idea." Too little, too late. The perilous journey had already been done. We had survived.

Once we were back to Iceland we meandered over to another waterfall, Gluggafoss. We decided to hang with my brother-in-law, Taylor, via Facetime so that he could hike with us to the waterfall (bros gotta adventure together, duh). There was another little waterfall right beside Gluggafos, which had hundreds of sheep below grazing in a field. One of my absolute favorite things here are the sheep (they're everywhere, and they are so fun to watch frolicking in the fields). It finally stopped pouring rain for a brief moment and we were able to enjoy the overcast skies as we tucked ourselves in to our car-camp. The high winds made rearranging the car incredibly difficult, but it was the first night it's been dark enough to even feel tired at all. Excited for day four adventures!