The most surreal country in the World: Iceland (2)

In my last article, I started to share my experiences of my trip to Iceland which I took at the end of November. This week however, I wrote the second half of my holiday which I took in celebration of my birthday. I believe that the black sands, diamonds from the glacier and the impressive lava show will surely be of interest to you all.

On the morning of November 25, we had our breakfast early and set off. Our goal was to tour the southern shores of the glaciers.

Perhaps the one negative thing about Iceland is in its winter months, the sun rises at about 10-10.30am and sets at about 4-4.30pm. This is a case that us Turks are not used to as we always want the sun to be above our heads therefore, we may not like this kind of climate. Similarly, there is a constant state of light in the summer. I believe, we need to embrace the differences that nature gives us. For example, while Turkey experiences 4 seasons, countries closer to the equator have tropical climates which are consistently at 27-28 degrees and also while we in the southern hemisphere live through winter, the northern sphere live through summer or places like Iceland and the Scandinavian countries have limited exposure to the sun but in the summer time, on the contrary, their days are full of light; these climate conditions cannot be compared or criticized. Every person has a different perspective on the cold, heat or varying climate conditions. I believe that people of each region adapt to their conditions and look to enjoying their lives this way.

For example, living in a tropical climate where the temperature is constantly 27-28 degrees sounds very attractive, doesn’t it? I believe it's more enjoyable to live somewhere which has 4 seasons. Because then you know the value of winter in summer and the value of summer in winter. Continuously living in changing conditions, having a wardrobe of clothes for each season is part of the color of life. For example, living a continuous summer climate means we will be deprived of snow and not be able to enjoy sports such as skiing.

Therefore, in my opinion, no climate is better than the other. Everyone’s perception of these conditions are different. So, it’s more suitable to ask “by whom, and according to what is the weather better”.


Diamond Beach and black sands

Returning to the subject, it is was a real pleasure to witness the sunrise in the early morning in such wonderful natural environment. I had already shared my feelings and thoughts about being in such a Zen environment in my article titled “My 41st birthday and my 4th phase of life” at this link:

After having such a thought filled l 2-hour journey, we arrived at Diamond Beach, where there were glaciers and black beaches. Honestly, the weather was cold, but we couldn't get ourselves out of this wonderful environment that nature had offered us. First of all, I had never once seen a beach with black sand. I have seen a lot of beaches with White sand (Caribbean), light or dark brown sand (Aegean) or even those that comprised of small stones (Mediterranean, Black Sea). But what is black sand? Even when you walk on it, you can't believe it. While I was doing research on this subject, I came across the Sand Atlas website which informs you of the sand types on Earth. I suggest you check it out:

As far as I'm confirmed, in Iceland and confirmed by this sand atlas; the reason the sand is black is because it contains iron and other volcanic minerals, especially basalt. You can clearly see why they call it Diamond Beach as the ice rocks on the black sand look like diamonds. Here are the images of this magnificent natural wonder:








Surfing between the glaciers

As I walked on the beach, I witnessed a very interesting scene. There were two surfers trying to surf amongst the cold glaciers. Firstly, they swam to the other side of the beach on the surfboard: 




Then they returned again from in between the glaciers. I had said to myself ‘the men surfing in this cold are either Canadians or the Scandinavians”. When they came back to the beach, I went towards them and I was right. They were Canadian surfers, one from Ontario and the other from Quebec. In fact, the one from Quebec was from the state of Montreal where I had studied university. I immediately stood next to one of them and took the following photo (a huge hello to all surfers and Canadians): 




I then said with a smile, “I knew you were Canadian." Then we said our goodbyes and I was back on my way. 


The unpleasant indicators of climate change

After Diamond Beach, we went to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon across the road. The Glacier Lake was a natural wonder.


Here, two things really got to me. Firstly, there were too many tourists around. We struggled to even take a photo in this overcrowded place. Secondly, you can see that the glaciers have started to melt in the glacial lake. Of course, I don't know if being at the end of November has an effect, but I can give you an example from Canada, based on my own experience. I had studied in Canada between the years 95-99 and on the 1st of November each year, the snow would start and then begin to clear on the 1st of May. Now, my friends tell me that sometimes the snow doesn't rain even in December, and then there is a lot of snow and extreme cold afterwards. In such short time, if this isn’t the effects of climate change, then what is? The effects of climate change are really being felt in Canada, Iceland and many other places.

Getting back to the topic, despite the crowd, we were able to capture some amazing photos from the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lake: 




The embarrassing adventure of petrol

After visiting the glacial lake, we started to head back. In the first minutes of the trip, I noticed that our petrol was running low. Knowing that there was a huge distance between one city and another, I planned to stop by the first petrol station we found. I couldn't risk it. After about 45 minutes, I stopped at the first petrol station I could find in the village. Instead of the middle section in which everyone pumps their petrol, I went to the empty petrol console on the side. The petrol station system is the same in Iceland, just like in Canada. Everybody pumps their own petrol. As I am accustomed to this concept, I safely parked the car, prepared the pump, but somehow, I could not put the pump head on my fuel tank head. It didn’t fit. While trying to figure out what was happening, we decided to ask the people inside. When they told us that this station was only for the tractors, and that we could use their pump for petrol from the middle section, I realized what we were doing wrong. We then moved into the middle section. As we had no other choice, I filled my tank with much guilt.

This sense of guilt was further increased when I remembered the charging station I saw in Jökulsárlón Glacier Lake. But how could I have known that Iceland is already ahead of many countries and has already started placing charging stations everywhere in the country. I then wailed to myself and said that next time I go to a country, I will investigate in detail everything I need to know. Here are the images of the charging station in the glacial lake:





Then we continued on our way back through the Katla Geological Park (Katla Geo Park) route. We were hungry. We drank soup in the town of Sur on our way back. Along the way, we witnessed the many magnificent waterfalls: 


Eventually we were back to Vik by 4:00pm. We then went up to a hill in Vik that had a church which we hadn’t seen before. 




Then we went to Black Sand Beach. After spending much time in the Zen environment, we took some shots of the following: 






We then stopped to take a break at a small cafe in the immediate vicinity of Black Sand Beach. 



As I was exploring the town of Vik, the Lava Show caught my eye. I said to myself that I must go there the next day. After the tour, we went to the Sudur Vik Restaurant for dinner, which was an Iceland-Far East fusion. I highly recommend this restaurant as well. I would like to share some images of this restaurant: 



As we had already witnessed, all the employees of this restaurant were all foreigners. Those who served us were Spanish and Polish waiters. After a great feast, we returned to the hotel.

We relaxed from the days exhaustion by drinking something in the lobby of the hotel. 


Detailed information about the geographic formation of the Vik town where we stayed for two nights.


A surprise cake in the Black Sand restaurant

The next day we packed up and left the hotel. While I was doing the check-out process, the map found in the reception caught my eye. I asked the clerk “What's on the other side of the mountain that passes through the middle of Vik Town?”. He said there was a small part of town. Then I noticed that there was a restaurant in that area. I asked, “Is that a nice restaurant?” in which he replied, “not bad”. I had found the place we were going to go to for lunch. After leaving the hotel, we went directly to the Black Beach restaurant. 

A photo we took on the way to the other side of the mountain 


A view of the Black Beach restaurant from outside


This place is the other side of the black beach which is split by a mountain. After strolling through the black sand beach, we entered a nice café-style restaurant where tourists could take a break and have a snack. Here we met with some people we came across on Saturday night at the Jam Session performance, Aura from Spain and Hal from Poland. They smiled at us and came over to us and said welcome. During the meal, Aura played some Turkish music in the restaurant. I never ever thought I would listen to folk and techno music fusion whilst sitting by a restaurant watching the black sands in Iceland. As a matter of fact, after seeing black sands, lava ruins and glaciers for the first time and then listening to folk & techno style fusion music, I really started to feel like I was living in a dream like I was in the year 2500 and spending a day on a Turkish colony in Mars. It was surreal.

Here is a video of that moment:



After we had dinner, we moved onto dessert and while I was waiting for the chocolate cake that I chose, I came across a sweet surprise. You can see the reaction I gave here while trying to figure out and comprehend the cake that Aura was bringing to me: 



The sweaty Lava Show

After this pleasant meal, it was time to go to the lava show. We came back to the center of Vik and the day before I had already found out that the Lava show was shown at 1pm and 5pm, so therefore we attended the 1pm show. Before the show, I had the opportunity to chat with Julius, the founder who knows much about the lava, the volcanic structure of the island and details about the show. You can find an important part of what he told me on his website:

Before the show, he showed me a lava stone which was formed by the cooling of lava which would then turn black due to volcanic minerals and basalts in it. 


Then we went along to watch Julius's show. After hearing what had happened to his great-grandfather when the Mount Volcano erupted, we witnessed him emptying the melted lava into a bathtub made of stone found in the room. As you may have guessed, the lava that was emptied into the bathtub was at a temperature of 1,100 degrees, which meant the room in which we were found suddenly turned into a sauna like heat. With our protective goggles on, we witnessed how the lava cools down, and how it continues to burn on the inside. After a Q&A session and buying some stones as a souvenir, we got to the end of the show. The following photos are what remains of the show: 





After this unique lava show, we set off again from the south coast towards Reykjavik. 


Iceland's football success is no coincidence

While searching for a thermal, we accidentally came across a tent on the road. I couldn't believe my eyes when I walked in. It was just a like an inflatable tent, where children were getting sports education. On one side of the tent there was gymnastics lessons and football training on the other side. After watching a little bit about how these children were being trained, I understood why Iceland's success in the World Cup was not by chance and why they were one of the favorites of the tournament. You’ll see what I mean by watching the videos below:




In order to find the thermal we wanted to go to, I started chatting with one of the coaches there to find out the way. The conversation we had was like this:

Iceland coach: Where are you from?

Me: We’re Turkish

Iceland coach: (with a smile on his face) Ahaa, we always beat you!

Me: (with a sensitive touched spot) You’re beating us now. But in the past, we were beating you. In the future, we will continue to beat you.


Iceland coach: We’ll see!


After a mutual giggle, I congratulated the coach for setting up such infrastructure and for giving such great education to the children. We left after giving each other well wishes. As far as the coach was sure, the thermals were 15 minutes from where we were, but after 15 minutes we had to leave the car and walk for 45 minutes. When we heard this, we gave up on the thermal visit. Because the weather was about to darken within an hour. We then calculated the time as only being able to go back to the capital, Reykjavik. We focused on getting back to Reykjavik, to tour the city once again. 

When I saw the rainbow on the way to the capital, Reykjavik, I stopped the car and took a picture. This wonderful photo was captured. 

Kol Restaurant and our time to return


We went into town in the evening. As planned, we went to Kol Restaurant which I chose for that evening:


That night on our way to the Kol Restaurant, we came across a clothing store on the way and the Icelandic and English translations got my attention. The Icelandic and, in general, Scandinavian languages are very interesting to me. Of these translations, the most used word Bracelet in English was used as another English word Armband (which in my opinion the word armband would be a more accurate definition to describe a bracelet anyway). But look at other Icelandic words. Although each one describes something very basic, the actual word gives you the sense of something quite strong. For example, to say something like the word Jeans almost has a tough Marvel superhero feel to it when you say the word “Gallabuxur” 

I think the prices of Kol Restaurant were a bit higher than they should have been, but the food was delicious, and the service was great. I do recommend it. I celebrated my birthday once again with their own customs. My birthday dinner on my last evening ended my holiday in the nicest way. 

Kol Restaurant in Reykjavik 


When I saw the cover of a book showing an ‘Icelandic picnic lit by Lava fire’ in my hotel room, I thought of the tragicomic events that Turks could have in case of living in Iceland regarding barbecuing and picnics. 


The next day at 4 in the morning on the way to returning to my country, in my mind I was left with the natural beauty of Iceland which allowed me to leave in peace.

I was ready for a week of very hard work in my business life in Turkey ...

And this is the final memoir of my Icelandic article series. A friend of mine who did the coding themselves, created a map of the destinations I went to. I would like to thank Deniz for preparing this amazing map. In order for you to picture it, I’d like to share it with you all below:

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