Monday, April 7, 2014

In the valley of ashes and pearls

The last week of university classes has started here for me! This semester is definitely coming to an end and I wish I had been here for a whole year but unfortunately I have to go back home in less than 6 weeks. Time has gone by so fast, it's incredible but I'm happy to see my friends and get into my apartment.
Last Saturday I went to a trip organised by the university here to the highlands of Iceland in the South right by the waterfall Seljalandsfoss (the one you can go behind). Þorsmjörk! Instead of sleeping in on a Saturday I got up at 6am to get to the bus at 8am that would bring us South. Most of us slept until Seljalandsfoss or at least attempted to. By the waterfalls than those two huge gigantic monster trucks were waiting for us, each one could seat about 20 people and they had big windows. Those are apparently two only ones in the world. The trucks are being used for touristic reasons but also for rescue missions in the highlands since a truck that floats on snow is quicker than one person on their skis. It was a father and son and their lovely dog who drove us around in the valley, where infamous Eyjafallajökull is, and told interesting stories how they had been flying right over the valley when the eruption happened and saw it all from close by. Until somebody in Reykjavík told them to get the hell out of there. We had our first stop by the tongue of a glacier that had shown up with a small canyon underneath the ice after the top ice melting because of the volcano eruption. Nobody had any idea that there was canyon since it had been covered in ice...since forever pretty much. We were there for a while and then we continued with the monster trucks, that also look like the catbus from the movie My Neighbour Totoro, through the valley to end of it before the big glacier starts. The surroundings were beautiful. Since nature is slowly waking up we were lucky to see some colors like green and red but the whole valley was just else grey, only rocks, stones and rivers. Nothing else.
There we had actually snow and the Asians in our group found it highly entertaining to sink into the deep snow so they kept jumping around until they sunk in up to their knees. :D We held our lunch break there, enjoyed the warm spring sun (it was around +9 degrees that day), listened to stories of one of the drivers and then we continued to go back with the trucks. And I have to say, the "road" there is no road at all and there is a good reason why you are not allowed to go without a 4-wheel car into the F-roads and most car rental companies forbid it. We had to cross small rivers all the time, go over huge rocks and bumps. Not many cars would survive that. When we wanted to leave our snowy spot our trucks actually got stuck into the snow and the trucks had to go quickly back and forwards in the spot so it was like a small boat at the amusement parks that go quickly back and forth...the whole bus had so much fun. :D
Our next and last stop was in Stakkahóltsgjá, a canyon in the valley. And it was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen I think. You were walking on those grey round rocks with many little rivers to cross and by your side you just had those high green beautiful walls. From the walls little waterfalls would come down but none on us because they were so small and high up that the wind would carry the drops then away with the sun making them glitter. If you stood right underneath them it looked like millions of pearls just flying in the sky over your head. Just breathtaking. We were hiking there to one end of the valley, crossing many little rivers and I was thankful for my waterproof hiking shoes because sometimes the only way to cross it was just to walk through the water. Let's not talk about the Asians who only had normal tennis shoes on... At the end of valley it got narrower and narrower until you were between the two walls and had a small waterfall right in in front of you. It was like from another world. I would have loved to keep on hiking there since the valley would go different ways but we didn't have enough time anymore. But I'll definitely one day return there and explore Stakkahóltsgjá more. I can't imagine this place in the summer when all the colors have returned. In the bus home we all fell asleep with the feeling of having had a fantastic day. I ran quickly with my housemate then from the busstop home since one of the housemate's had her birthday in the same evening and we had pizza before going out to party.
Sunday I had the great plan of doing only school work but ended up first going for coffee/tea and cookie with a housemate to my favorite coffee place here, then Sushi Sunday (our routine here) again with friends, then we went after that to apparently the best ice cream place in Iceland by the harbour (it was good! they even had marsipan ice cream!) and ended up drinking tea at a friend's place in the end. When I did get home it was almost 7pm. Well, that study plan failed miserably. :D
But it feels really great to have found friends here you can always do something with, want to hang out with you and you can actually just laugh and goof off with them for literally hours. But also have serious and personal talks. I'm so happy and thankful for them here. :)
And on the other note: I'm sick again! Go me. I think it's like one of my teachers said here. A doctor told her once that the people in Reykjavik are more sick than in the rest of the country because the weather changes are much more extreme here than in other parts of the country. Let's blame it on that. :D So lots of tea, orange juice, echinacea and other house remedies for me now.
And my voice is gone in!

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