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  • kbeinroth

Austurland (East Iceland)

July 19

Sunrise 03:11

Sunset 22:47

We disembarked at Djúpivogur, one of the best natural habors of Iceland's southeast coast. Similar to the island of Flatey in western Iceland, the Hanseatic league established a trading spot here in the late 1500s. (I wonder how many of my World History students remember what that is, lol).

I was excited to see a glaciers and icebergs for the first time, and we set out towards Vatnajökull National Park, site of the Vat ajökull, or "water glacier". This glacier is the largest glacier in Iceland and covers more than 8% of the country - it is about the side of Puerto Rico! Vatbajökull is full of superlatives- highest elevation, coldest temperatures, biggest volcanic eruptions (seven volcanoes are beneath it), highest precipitation, fastest winds.

Breiðamerkurjökull is an outlet glacier of Vatnajökul,- it ends in a small lagoon, known as Jökulsárlón. This is the only place in Iceland where you can reliably encounter icebergs up close. The glacier lagoon was stunning, magical. The cloudy day made it even better.

Nearby is the famous Diamond Beach or Breiðamerkursandur, a black sand beach and icebergs that wash up on shore, resembling diamonds. The sand was incredibly fine and soft. The water from the lagoon moves quickly into the ocean on this beach, making it an ideal feeding ground for birds (such as our friends the arctic terns) and seals.

There was lots of space to spread out and contemplate the absolute beauty.

On our way back to the ship, our guide announced there was one more stop. The bus drove excruciatingly slowly down Djúpivogur's runway. At the end was a vast back sand beach and gorgeous dunes. As we got nearer, I could make out two small tables set with tablecloths. We were welcomed and invited enjoy to a small shot of vodka and a bite of happy marriage cake.

I felt as if I was in a film, it was such a stark and unusal setting, but beautiful nevertheless. A lovely way to end the day.

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