Iceland pt1: Wind & Ice

We made an amazing trip to Iceland this summer and while going through the photos, I realized that Iceland is very element-y! All the photos could be divided roughly in 4 themes: Wind & Ice, Water, Earth and Fire. So instead of the usual chronological way of telling, I’m going element-based this time. Let’s start with wind and ice!

Ward is holding water that’s 1000 years old

Iceland isn’t called ICEland for nothing. It has a snowcovered volcano that covers 9 percent of the whole island! On its side, there are many, many glaciers dripping down. It is an amazing sight.

Ward is taking pictures while I’m taking pictures of Ward taking pictures :p
Ward’s picture!

The magical thing is that the ice from the glaciers melts and breaks into big lakes, slowly drifting towards the sea. This results in massive iceblocks in white and black colors (because of the sand and rocks grounded into them). It makes for a astonishing scene.

The iceblocks would then wash back ashore when they reach the sea. This place is called ” Diamond Beach”, with hundreds of glistening icerocks on the black volcanic sand. It’s beautiful!

We wanted to see the glaciers more upclose, so we actually climbed one! It was at Vatnajökull national park ( jökull means glacier in Icelandic). We put on our climbing gear, ice picks and crampons and all, and went up one of these hauntingly beautiful iceplains.

You could see the “icefall” in the back, where parts of the snow from the top of the mountain are slowly falling down in big chunks, creating a delicate, slow-motion waterfall of ice.

an icefall
with views over the lakes, the plains in the far back underneath the rainclouds, the ocean.

It was absolutely stunning. There were deep cracks in the ground (“crevasses”), some you could not see the bottom. The surface was made of huge and broken chunks of ice. The glacier used to reach up to the lake, but has been shrinking the last decade because of our pollution and climate change.

It was pretty overwhelming, this landscape. The mountains were so beautiful.

Let’s slowly transition into the next theme, ” air”. Iceland has many weathers, and we experienced, sun, clouds, rain, storms, heavy fog, it was amazing! But one of the most absurd things was that the sun didn’t set during our time in Iceland. It hovers on the horizon and goes back up again. And the light you get at ” night ” is purely magical, with long shadows and deep yellow tints.

This was late at night!
The sun “setting” behind the mountains.

During the longest day, 21st of June, this was how the middle of the night looked like:

It was difficult to sleep at first, but we got used to it quickly and actually really appreciated the lights and colors during the night!

Talking about air, there was one really threatening thing coming from it, and it’s this guy:

The Arctic Tern… man was he a pain in the head ;p It was breeding season, so this guy (and his 1000 friends) would vigorously protect their nesting grounds. by actually attacking anything that came near it (even sheep!), by swooping down and picking!

I heard them coming…

o my god…!
*insert creepy music*

But there was a trick!

If you hold up a stick, they’ll attack that instead of your head. Hooray!

Speaking of birds, there were a lot of swans in Iceland, and one time we passed a corner and suddenly saw a bay filled with hundreds of swans. It was so beautiful but I only managed to take this picture from our car window :p. We encountered so many stunning skies while driving around Iceland.

mist, volcano, farm, really Icelandic :)

I loved how the clouds and mist would slowly creep over the volcanic mountains.


At one point, we had to drive over this mountain pass to get into a fjord, and that pass was literally inside the clouds:

There actually was a huge icelake on top of this mountain, we noticed on the way back.

The clouds were so low, that we felt almost imprisoned between mountains and clouds!

The next day, the weather cleared up, and we actually climbed those surrounding mountains, but more about that in the next post about ” Earth”!