The "living room" workspace, nice and airy. I don't think I ever sat on the couch
Really comfortable bed and super soft, really warm comforter. It took me about 5 seconds to fall asleep once I got in the room.
The bath was great, you can't really see it but the sink was really cool with the spout coming out like a little waterfall
Room selfie in the floor lamp. Everything was modern, minimal and above all really clean.
A short nap turned into most of the day and daylight had pretty much burned out by the time I woke up and it was time to plan the next day's outing. My original plan had been to hire a guide for the next day and go to a few of the places I had researched, such as the Golden Circle, then after the workshop follow up on that with a rental car and a few days of driving back to some of the spots that I wanted to spend some more time at. Unfortunately the guide I had hired was injured in an accident the week before the trip so I was left with a day I had not planned for. I knew I had a day scheduled to wander around Reykjavik and I didn't want to end up in a massive group tour so I booked a tour to the Reykjanes peninsula. After a fine introduction to the amazing Arctic Char it was lights out for me
I picked my tour wisely. Every other tour leaving from the depot was on a giant bus packed to the gills, the one I took had 4 other people in a small mini-bus. The driver was incredibly knowledgeable having grown up on the peninsula and the drive took us around a goodly part of the area and I made note of some of the areas I wanted to return to when I had the rental car after the workshop was over.
We moved on to the Seltún geothermal area. The water below the ground is 200 degrees Celsius and comes out of the ground boiling which creates mud pots and fumaroles. The minerals deposits from the constantly churning ground have left colorful deposits which were a marked contrast to the white snow colored hills around the area.
It got really busy after we got there, a pair of large tour buses pulled up and the boardwalk got a little too crowded to shoot.
Unfortunately some people are self-centered and careless about what they do with their trash no matter how beautiful, pristine and remote a place is. As I was waiting to try to get a little mud plop come up from this little vent a man behind me flicked his cigarette butt onto the ground.
I hoped to come back to the area on one of my "driving" days, hopefully early enough to avoid the large number of people and to visit lake Grænavatn, which has teal colored water. I didn't make it, but it's on my list of places for when I go back.
We stopped at Grindavik harbor for lunch at Bryggjan Cafe. They don't have much on the menu but the lobster soup, although really expensive (like all food in Iceland it seemed), was amazing.
From Grindavik we headed off to Gunna Geyser and the Reykjannes Lighthouse. Gunna's Geyser is the most well known and most visited geyser in Iceland. The story was told to us by our driver and was also on a sign at the beginning of the boardwalk.
The boardwalk also made a nice viewing spot for the Reykjanes lighthouse, it is Iceland's oldest lighthouse and once sat closer to the ocean but storms and earthquakes destroyed it, it was rebuilt on this hill and serves as the landfall light for Keflavik and Reykjavik.
Our next, and last stop was Midlina, the rift where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are being pulled apart at the rate of 2.5 centimeters per year. This is happening deep under the ocean floor but above ground there is a rift cutting across the country where the rock formations are split by this (slowly) growing fissure. The Leif-the-Lucky (or Miðlína) bridge stretches across the rift. If you walk all the way across the bridge you can get a personalized certificate saying that you walked all the way from Europe to America. I was too busy taking pictures of the moon-like landscape and the locks on the bridge to do that.
Finding decaffeinated coffee is hard in some places, I haven't drank regular coffee for years, and it's always a challenge when I go places that don't serve it, or when it comes like this. And this was only in Reykjavik. It was non-existent where we stayed on the workshop. I did break down and had regular coffee once a day for the rest of the trip. Who needs to sleep anyhow?
Packed up, ready to go and waiting
As I was waiting I caught up on my emails. One caught my attention - it was from my workshop leader, date stamped 1 hour before, he had developed a severe problem with his foot and couldn't stand, walk or drive. He had a plan B though and had an Icelandic friend of his who runs a tour company drive us around. His hope was that he could meet up with us 2 days into our 5 day workshop and take over. Unfortunately that didn't happen and his friend drove us around the entire time. It wasn't what we expected, and I think all of us had signed up in the hopes of getting some instruction, but it was still a good time and we all got along well. Aside from the driver there were four of us, David, Andrea, Lance and I. David and Lance and I had a good deal of experience, Andrea not as much, but she was game and we all helped each other out during the times we were shooting and when we got back to the guesthouse at night.
After we all were together in what I thought then was a really big 4X4 SUV we set out towards our base of operations Guesthouse Hali. Yep, there will be an obligatory picture of me with the sign, I don't know many people who spell my name the way I do and it was pretty wild to stay somewhere named "after" me. The next five days were busy!
We continued the journey to Guesthouse Hali. It was a nice, rustic place. We had one of the guest houses pretty much to ourselves. Each one of us in our own room
We started off the next morning visiting the beach at Jökulsárlón where the icebergs wash up after breaking off from the glacier in the lagoon. There weren't that many icebergs, and most of the pieces of ice were pretty small but they were like little gems especially with the sun coming up over the ocean. It is also not easy photography and it's always imperative to keep an eye on the ocean since you never know when a bigger wave than expected will come in and knock you or your tripod down.
Then we were off to have breakfast and continue with the day which included a trip to an ice cave. But before we headed to the ice cave we stopped to visit with some Icelandic horses that were hungry for some treats.
We headed back along the ring road towards Jökulsárlón to shoot some landscapes, which were jaw dropping in every direction. We had beautiful blue skies against the snow colored mountains, a partially frozen river, pretty much a photographers dream, if you like cold weather.
We spent a while there, photographing the mountains, the wildlife and each other photographing the mountains and the wildlife.
Then it was off to the ice cave. We thought that our guide, Hörður, had a big car, that was nothing compared to the ones that took us to the staging area to go to the ice cave.
After getting our safety gear (rock climbing helmets and ice spikes for those that didn't have them) we got on even bigger vehicles (that I don't have a picture of) and off to the ice cave we went. And found probably 3 other groups with 25-30 other people there. It was really difficult to photograph around all those people but we all managed to come away with some good shots.
We returned to the Guesthouse Hali after our trip to the cave and set back out to catch some late light at Jökulsárlón Lagoon. The lagoon was pretty amazing with the glacial ice creeping down into it. A lot of the ice was locked up still from the cold weather which made for some dramatic images and the sky was doing the Iceland thing - cloudy and slightly rainy one minute, sun shining down the next, in other words it was perfect! People though amaze me. There were signs all over to stay off the ice that it was thin by the shore, but people just had to walk out on the ice. I only saw one person fall in, and that was up to their knee, but I'm sure it happens a lot more than that.
Day 5 was over cast and snowing in the morning. And after a nice breakfast at the guesthouse we headed off for the most southeastern point in Iceland - Vesturhorn. But first some more of the Icelandic Horses. One of my to see things was the horses, and I certainly got to see quite a few.
Another early morning trip out to Jökulsárlón Beach this time we were rewarded by a spectacular sunrise, unfortunately there still weren't many icebergs on the beach and I had the unpleasant experience of being knocked into a wave by someone from another group (unintentionally) and ended up with water in my boots despite my gaiters.