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Day Three - Black Sand, Icebergs, and Skaftafell National Park

Black Sands of Vik
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Vatnaj÷kull Glacier
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Iceberg in Jökulsárlón Lagoon
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A Thousand-Year-Old Snack
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My next stopover would be in H÷fn and with plenty to see along the way, I was up early and back on Route 1, heading east. The first stop was the black sand beaches along the coast. Although it was cloudy and rainy, the view was still quite remarkable.

After an hour or so of driving, the much larger Vatnaj÷kull glacier became visible. The closer I got, the more surreal it was. By the time I reached Skaftafell National Park, it really felt like I was going to drive straight into the icy mass.

Vatnaj÷kull is the largest glacier by volume in Europe, and at 8,100 square kilometers (over 5,000 square miles), it covers 8% of the country. It is listed by Guinness World Records as the object with the world's greatest sight line, being visible on some days from 550km (340 miles) away.

It's difficult to express how enormous this glacier is and the feeling you get standing at its edge. I spent a couple hours walking around the edge and down by one of its lagoons and was very much blown away at the sight of it all.

The next stop was the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, which is about halfway between Höfn and Skaftafell. The melting of the Brei­amerkurj÷kull glacier over time has lead to a large river and lagoon, through which many icebergs break off and flow down and accumulate. The river continues out a very short distance into the ocean itself. I took a boat out for a closer look at the thousand-year-old chunks of ice, which was a phenomenal experience. As they float around, slowly melting, they sometimes break apart or fall over, which means you cannot get too close. What you see at the surface is only about 10% of the mass itself, so one unexpected tumble with movement under the surface and it would wipe the boat out. At one point, one of the guides found a very small piece of ice and fished it out of the lagoon and then broke it up in small pieces, which she then gave me to eat. It was very, very dense and also perfectly clear.

The small of harbor town of Höfn (Icelandic for harbor) is quiet and scenic. My room at Guesthouse ┴sgar­ur was fairly nice and provided a great view of the oceanside. The highlight of my stay there, though, was undoubtedly my visit to Humar H÷fnin, a fantastic restaurant, specializing in lobster dishes. I ordered a lobster pizza with a few pints of Carlsberg and had a fabulous meal and very much enjoyed the great atmosphere.

Day Four

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