Jake recedes from view
Despite initial misgivings, I'm getting to like our bitter guidebook to Iceland. It's much more upbeat as we've moved to the south of the country. In fact it's been downright helpful, pointing out where the hiking trails starts and breakfast is served.
Based on a number of guidebook descriptions, we visited Dettifoss, the largest waterfall in Europe. This required a bumpy two-hour drive over dirt roads, but ended with all of us standing over a half-mile of thundering water power. The roar was deafening. Surrounding the falls were rocks forms into almost perfect cubes. These were easy to clamber over and the children scrambled up high.
We left the next day for Hveragerdi, in the south. I've spent our entire time here trying to pronounce the name correctly and have finally got it down. The "hv" combination sounds like "kf" and the "d" is a special Icelandic letter that's between a d and a th. I was thinking how complicated Icelandic is, and then found myself explaining to a German riding instructor how to spell "knee," "calf," and "thigh" and realized that English really isn't any better. I'm just used to it.
My bitter guidebook says "there's not a huge amount to see in Hveragerdi," but I don't blame it because
a) that's true and
b) the guide didn't go out of their way to be nasty about it like it did about, say, Skagastrond ("a terribly ugly place dominated by a fish factory...most buildings today date from the tasteless period of the 1940's fishing boom.")
There are some enjoyments to be had at Hveragerdi. Like the pools.
If Icelanders have got one thing right, it's their warm and hot water pools and spas. Every town has a big, well-heated public pool complex with water slides and multiple hot tubs of various temperatures. Akureyri had the nicest pool I've ever been in. Hveragerdi has a public pool that's unusually long (50 meters?) and luxuriously warm. The pool overlooks a big waterfall. There was a festival in town on Saturday and my son rode a zip line right over the falls.
Hveragerdi was a starting point to the wonders of the southern coast. More giant waterfalls -- we could walk behind one, a hundred feet of water thundering in front of us. More geothermal elements: parched earth, shooting geysers, boiling puddles and weirdly blue poisonous looking pools. And giant glaciers.
We walked up a glacier yesterday only about 10 or 20 feet -- a guide from another tour pointed out that there were openings in the ice. If we fell in, we would die. You really need proper gear, which we didn't have. The danger heightened our appreciation of the glacier, which looks like a big white lake sitting on top of the mountains.
Tomorrow: a lake full of icebergs.