Southeast coast trip

Even before I left to Iceland Mathilde (who I know through AFS) told me that she and some friends were thinking on doing a roadtrip along the South East coast of Iceland. She was wondering if I would be up to and she would let me know when they were going. This would be planned very last minute as the weather in Iceland is not always too predictable.

In the weekend of 14-15 March it was finally time. The Wednesday before Mathilde asked me if I were free that weekend. YES I WAS! On Friday after my language class Mathilde, Jen, Tommy, Mathias, Henry and I drove off  in 2 small campervans. In Iceland there are not many roads. There is only one main road that we had to follow, so navigating was quite easy. In Vík had a small break, from there we decided to drive straight to Diamond beach where we arrived around 10pm if I remember correct. The place we wanted to go was not very reachable due to deep snow, so we ended up in the parking lot of the Glacier lagoon.

When we arrived there there were some Northern lights visible. So while everyone was trying to organise and start cooking, I went out with my camera to take some pictures. I was not the only person. Many op my pictures got ruined due to people walking around with flashlights, but I’m very happy with the pictures I managed to take. In the biggest campervan, which was also our ‘living/dining/meeting’ room, we cooked pasta with pesto. A simple meal but for now it was good. I was happy when we could finally go to sleep after getting ready in the very smelly bathroom. For me this was the first time actually camping with a campervan. I think it was a very interesting, cosy and fun experience.

Northern lights

We woke up with really nice weather, after we had breakfast we went out for a walk. I did not realise how beautiful this place was the night before. We were at Jökulsárlón, or in English: The Glacier lagoon. As it was quite ice-ey, I put the spikes on my shoes. My parent’s put those with my stuff and I was actually wondering when I was ever gonna use them. But now I was the happiest person ever! It made huge difference walking on slippery surfaces.

Our campervans

The scenery was amazing. So much white from the snow, then a beautiful lake with many pieces of Ice which probably (sadly) broke of the glacier, some seals which I was actually surprised about because I didn’t know those were there and then, totally unexpected, there was this random boat in the middle of the snowfield.

Jökulsárlón - Glacier lagoon

Jökulsárlón - Glacier lagoon

Seals!

Jökulsárlón - Glacier lagoon

Jökulsárlón - Glacier lagoon

Jökulsárlón - Glacier lagoon

Jökulsárlón - Glacier lagoon

After walking around at the Glacier lagoon we went to Diamond beach. This beach is definitly worth its name.  There are many (big) pieces of ice which really look like diamonds. Diamond beach is something I had never seen before, it was beautiful (as how I would probably decribe most places we visited).

Diamond beach

Diamond beach

Diamond beach

Diamond beach

The next stop on our list was Svartifoss. To get here we had to hike for a while. As we arrived at the parking lot around lunchtime we first ate before actually going up. Again, I was super happy with my spikes here. Not everyone of our group had those, so some had so slide down as the others with spikes could just walk. Before getting to Svartifoss we passed another waterfall which was already very pretty. While walking you had a great view on the Icelandic landscape which was mainly white and empty at the moment. Then we got to Svartifoss. Svartifoss is one of the most impressive waterfalls I have ever seen. It was almost unreal how stunning it is. The waterfall consists of basalt columns which made it very special.

Svartifoss

Svartifoss

Svartifoss

From Svartifoss we continued our hike to the top of the mountain; Sjónarsker. There was a great view of the landscape here and we just sat down and enjoyed it for a while. Meanwhile feeling bad about not bringing water with us. Walking down again we walked into some lost French tourists who we could help in their own language as our group is pretty bilingual. Walking further we also once took the wrong path. But luckily we did not get lost and we could find back our campervans. There we decided we would stay the night in Vík at the campingplace.

Sjónarsker

Sjónarsker

Driving towards Vík we figured out that Fjarðrárgljúfur was on the way. So by texting people in the other van we decided to add one more stop to the day.  Unfortunately the other van missed the exit because they were discussing where the beautiful (lava field) landscapes came from. As they were driving in front we could still follow. With the next ‘turning possibility’ in 20 minutes driving we waiting until there were no other cars around and turned on the road. Not the most ideal, but it worked out and we only arrived like 15 minutesish after planned. Fjarðrárgljúfur is cliff, again as all other places very beautiful. I just must love the Icelandic landscapes. It is so unreal and something I’m personally not used to live around. So I also feel very lucky being able to live in this beautiful country for a whole year!

Fjarðrárgljúfur

Fjarðrárgljúfur

Fjarðrárgljúfur

After visiting Fjarðrárgljúfur we drove on to Vík. the campingspace. Here we cooked Chili and rice which was super good. The campingspace was apparantly closed, but we could park and stay there.
Positive side: we didn’t have to pay,
Negative side: we did not have running water or a bathroom….
So don’t be surprised how happy we were in the morning when we drove down the hill and found a public bathroom. Or as I would say, the best public bathroom ever! After eating breakfast and freshening up we went to our first stop of the day: Reynisfjara.

Reynisfjara is the most beautiful, but also most dangerous black beach of Iceland. The beach is known to have sneaker waves. These waves are very unpredictable and have a strong current. Due to the snow we could kinda see how far the water could go up. So I tried to stay more towards the white parts. I did check out the cave, but of course keeping an eye on the water. Also the basalt columns were amazing to see from up close. Love how the earth can make stuff like this.

Reynisfjara

Reynisfjara

Reynisfjara

Reynisfjara

Next up was Dyrhólaey. From here you have a amazing view on the black beach / Reynisfjara. Also you could walk up the mountain. Again happy with my spikes. The path was pretty bad. Only Mathias and me ended up walking to the top. I was just very very curious to the views. Which were again amazing. There was also a very cute lighthouse on the top and we could see up to Vestmannaeyjar / the Vestman Islands. Somewhere this year I’m still planning to go there and visit Diljá and her family. Diljá was once an AFS student in my mom’s side of the family.

 

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Dyrhólaey

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Dyrhólaey

Dyrhólaey

Then we went to Sólheimajökull, one of the glaciers on Iceland. It was a short walk thare accross the lagoon which was frozen now. This made it a bit harder to see where the glacier started and where the lake was. But it still looked amazing. I’m actually very curious on how this place would look like in the summer / warmer months. Now everything was white, but think then it might even look more spectacular as you really see the difference in glacier and non-glacier.

Sólheimajökull

Sólheimajökull

Sólheimajökull

On the last part on the way back to Reykjavík we visited some of the watefalls. Skógafoss, Kvernufoss, Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi. Again, all beautiful places. Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss were very touristy. Many people standing there and taking pictures. We just checked it out, but did not stay too long at those places.

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

Seljalandsfoss

Kvernufoss made a real impression on me, it was a small hike there, also passing some real Icelandic horses, and the landscape was just magical. I could’ve sat there for a very long time just enjoying the view and the sounds.

Icelandic horses

Kvernufoss

Kvernufoss

Kvernufoss

Gljúfrabúi is a cliff with a waterfall behind it. I’m super happy I took my rain pants with me, and I realised that my shoes were waterproof as well which made me even more happy. Pictures did not work out the best way within the cliff due to all the water around us. But it was just amazing.

Gljúfrabúi

Gljúfrabúi

Gljúfrabúi

Back in Reykjavík we dropped of our stuff, divided the leftover foods and we cleaned the campervans. Then we went for dinner to KFC/Taco Bell and returned the campervans. This weekend had been absolutely amazing. I really want to thank Mathilde, Jen, Tommy, Mathias and Henry again for letting me join on this trip.

Can’t wait until I get a chance again to explore more of Iceland again. But with the current situation on the world I think that might be for a while. This trip was before all the Covid-19 restrictions. Soon I’ll try to write an update on the situation here and how I’m handeling it so far. Take care everyone!!

Iceland update

Í dag er fimmtudagur tólfti mars árið tvö þúsund og tuttugu. Ég heiti Anke og ég er frá Hollandi. Ég tale Hollendsku. Núna er ég á Íslandi. Ég bý í Reykjavík. Ég er að læra Íslensku í Dósaverksmiðjunni.

This is what my language class often starts with. I´m almost halfway of my course and I´m slowly starting to understand some stuff. It is funny when I hear people talking and I understand some words they are talking about. Although my Icelandic knowlegde is very standard. But it is a start! I´ll keep practicing and hopefully I´ll be able to speak and at least understand the language within this year.

These past weeks I have kept myself busy. February 28th and 29th about 19 strangers from all over the world booked tickets to Iceland together. I got to know about this when I saw this post in a facebookgroup of Yes Theory. Yes Theory is a youtube channel that has a huge community. While preparing for Iceland I found this post from Isabel. Since she was 8 years old it was her dream to one day see the Northern Lights in Iceland. She saved her money in a glass jar to fulfull her childhood dream. Then she met Jordan, who also dreamt of seeing the Northern lights, they started talking and a couple of hours later they booked their tickets to Iceland. The post was talking about how they would love to meet new people and they were inviting people they didn´t know to join on their trip. And because of that message, 19 strangers (including me) met up on Iceland. Ragnar, a local on Iceland, had organized many tours around the island for the group. Due to prices and knowing I´m still here for almost a full year, I did not join the tours. But the first night Ragnar did take the ones who were already on Iceland out to hunt some Northern Lights. Unfortunately it was not a big succes, after driving for a while it got very foggy outside. On the 29th I went with the ones who aleady had arrived into the city and up the Hallgrímskirkja.

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I even spotted my own house. Somewere in the middle of the picture you see a square white building with the sign “center hotels”, if you look left next to that building you see the red roof of my house.

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Outside of my work hours I have spend quite a lot of time with the group while they were in Reykjavík. The group was amazing, we all connected very well while we didn´t know eachother.  We even spotted some Northern Lights at the shore, which was also for me the first time of really seeing them. Hjálmdís, also a local, invited all of us to come to her home and try some local foods (lamb, brúnaðar kartöflur, sósa, malt og appelsin, harðfiskur, kæstur hákarl and brennivín). I´ve had a great time with these people and can´t wait to meet them some day again. I´m pretty sure at least one of them will make a video of the trip. I´ll share it in one of my blogs when they finish it.

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Last saturday I went to the Pálínuboð of AFS, which is a potluck. There were volunteers, students and their hostfamilies. Rebekka, a girl from Germany who I´ve met through my language class, also joined. In the morning we made bananabread that we brought in the afternoon. There was a lot of sweet food, and luckily also some salats and rice. I ate so much that afternoon, but it was really nice.

On sunday I slept in, the weather outside was beautiful. So after I got up slowly and did some laundry I went to walk around to the harbor which is really close (read 5 minutes walking) from my house. In the afternoon I went with Mathilde to the Listasafn Reykjavíkur Hafnarhús. This is one of the locations of the art museum. At this specific museum they have the shoplifter: chromo sapiens exposition from Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir. This exposition is like cotton candy with many many colors and it is very fluffy. That is how I would explain it, it was super cute!

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Due to the great weather Mathilde and I went for a drink and afterwards we continued to her place from where we went watch the sunset with some of Mathilde´s friends. On the way there I took an amazing picture of Hallgrímskirkja. After the sunset we all ate together at Mathilde her place and watched a movie. It was a great day.

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This week I managed to complete my registration on Iceland. At the office I had the first meeting with IPOT, the Icelandic Pool Of Trainers. We talked about some events coming up and now the preparations for those can start. I’m really excited for it!

This is a short update on what I’ve been up to. I’m keeping myself busy and for the following week this will still be the case. This weekend I’ll go with some people to the south-east coast of Iceland. It will be the first time for me to really get out of Reykjavík. I’ll try to keep my blog updated on my adventures!

By the way, I almost forgot to mention this. So this morning I was at the office and then my desk and computer and just the whole building started shaking. I have experienced my very first earthquake here! It was a very weird experience. Luckily it wasn’t too bad and as far as I know there is no damage. The earthquake not that long and was with a magnitude of 5.1.

My first week in Iceland

Exactly one week ago I left the Netherlands and arrived on Iceland. One week already. Time flies! Some people have been asking what I have been up to, so with this blog I would like to give you a quick update.

The past weeks I had been preparing for Iceland. Some practical stuff back home, being in contact with the Icelandic AFS office and packing my stuff. As I expected Iceland to be super cold, I made sure to buy enough warm clothes in NL that I could take with. While packing I was surprised how much stuff I could actually bring. I even managed to fill my 40kg that I could take with.

February 18th I invited family over to say goodbye, while I already had said bye to some friends of mine earlier that week. The morning of February 19th I visited my grandparents’ to say goodbye to them there.  Due to farmer strikes we didn’t want to risk to get into a traffic jam on the way to the airport. My dad dropped me and my mom of at the trainstation from where we left to the airport. Good job to me….. I almost forgot the most important bag in the car. Luckily my dad could bring it just in time to still get into the train on time. Arrived at the airport we had much time left. We checked in my bags, went to the panorama deck,  had some food and then I waved my mom goodbye when she took the train back. For me that was the time to go through security to the gate. At the gate I ran into another Dutch AFS volunteer I’m working with who was gonna travel, such a coincidence.

 

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It was a good flight. The landing was in the the middle of a snowstorm, so it was a real welcome with Icelandic weather.  Aron and Mathilde, two AFS volunteers, picked me up from the airport. Aron dropped me and Mathilde (who I already knew) of at my new house where we put my stuff in my room. Then we walked to her place where we ate late dinner. In the picuture below you can see the house where I live now. It is the grey house in the picture.

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Thursday I started at the office. Elín, a girl from Iceland who was at the same time on her exchange in Iceland, lend me her bike for one year. She brought this on Thursday to the office. The next morning it turned out the tire was flat, so I already to to fix it this weekend. At the office it was lots of practical stuff this week, also helping out with some tasks and getting to know the people in the office of course. Everyone is super nice and I’m excited for what will come!

 

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On Saturday morning I walked around Reykjavik. I’m living in the downtown area and I was curious about where I actually live.

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In the afternoon there was Árshárið, this is an annual party for AFS volunteers. It was super nice seeing the volunteers I already knew and to meet more of the Icelandic volunteers. There was an afternoon program with some teambuilding and at night there was a vegan dinner and a party with some more activities. The party was musical themed, I borrowed a pink ladies jacket from one of the volunteers. One thing I have already noticed in Iceland: Icelandic people are very into Eurovision.

 

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Sunday morning I joined the free walking tour around the city. The streets downtown are heated, so I put on thinner shoes: worst decision ever. Of course we walked routes through snow and standing still in parks with snow so I got quite cold at the end. After the tour I went home to warm up and to get lunch. In the afternoon I went to the Icelandic pool with some volunteers; a whole new experience. Also being in an outside pool with 1°C outside was not the thing I would expect me doing this fast. It was very nice tho, and afterwards we went to get some icecream. This is also something that you could get yearround here, in the Netherlands icecream shops are usually closed in the winter. On the way back home it was dark and it snowed which allowed a beautiful view at the Sun Voyager.

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Monday evening there was a chance to see the Northern Lights. I went out on my bike and waited. I did not see anyting, but my camera cought a bit. Earlier this week I already missed very good opportunity, Laura texted me when there were nice northern lights, but it was just after I went to sleep.

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This week there are many holidays in Iceland. On monday it was Bolladagur. This is a day where everyone eats Bolla, which is like a bun.  Kids will have made a wand on this day and hit their parents while yelling “bolla, bolla, bolla”, the amount of times that they hit and say bolla will be the amount of bolla that the kids will get. Then Tuesday it was Sprengidagur / explosion day, which is a day where people just eat until they can’t eat anymore if I’m right. And today it was Öskudagur, also known as ash wednesday. For this kids dress up and sing songs at companies to get candy. I did see some kids walking around downtown, but as AFS is on the 4th floor the kids don’t get there. I do want to mention that this is how I understood these holidays. Think it is about right, but it could be a bit different.

Today I started my first Icelandic classes at the Tin Can Factory. I’ll be following a course for the next 6 weeks and hopefully I’ll be able to understand and speak some of the Icelandic language soon. I also bought some children’s books which will hopefully help me learning the language faster.

Think that’s about it for now. I’m really enjoying my time here. I’m not sure how often I’ll update my blog. If you want to really keep up to date you can also follow me on Social Media. Have a great day! Goðan dag!

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