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Iceland - Day 5

Kirkjubæjarklaustur

semi-overcast 45 °F

I'm not sure how one day can top the next, but it has! Our travels took us east to Jökulsárlón for a glacier lagoon tour. Before hitting the road we had to make our obligatory Red Bull stop at a local store (Tim is SO happy Red Bull is readily available here). While checking out, the cashier starting speaking to Tim in Icelandic. Tim of course did not know how to respond, just slid his card. When the cashier handed Tim the receipt he again spoke Icelandic to which Tim responded "Thank you." The cashier seemed surprised replying, "Oh, yes thank you." I guess his beard has officially reached the nordic look.

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The glacier lagoon is at the base of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier right along the beach. We arrived at the lagoon early in the day because the tours were first come first serve. We secured a spot at 1pm, which left us about an hour and a half to walk around and take pictures. The tide was going out at the time and we were able to watch the smaller pieces of ice float out to sea. A ton of Arctic Tern were flying and fishing in the lagoon. They caught herring and took it to shore to eat it while simultaneously fighting off other Tern that wanted the fish.

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The tour boats are the amphibian land/sea kind. We loaded up with about a dozen others and put on giant lifejackets. Which by the way, would in no way save anyone if they went overboard because they were so loose fitting. At least we looked super stylish. We drove off the shore and into the lagoon. Before long, we saw a seal!!!! Neither Tim nor I had any idea there were seal in the area; you can't see them from the main viewing area and the tour company did not advertise it. Apparently they are following the herring into the lagoon. A person in a dingy followed our boat and provided the guide with a large piece of ice. If anyone wanted to hold it for at least 3 seconds, they were granted 7 years good luck. The guide also chopped up some of the ice if you wanted to eat it.

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While on the tour the guide gave us a few facts about the lagoon. He said in 1934 the entire area was frozen over, but due to global warming the glacier is melting faster which created the lagoon at the base. The glacier is melting/receding 442 feet per year. The lagoon is also the deepest section in all of Iceland at 984 feet! On our way back to shore we saw seal lying on a piece of ice floating in the lagoon. Even though tours run every half hour, the seals did not seem too keen on the boats coming near them and slid off the ice as we floated by on our way to shore.

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Being so close to the beach we couldn't resist driving over and walking on the black sand beach. We were excited to find chunks of glacier right on the beach. They float out of the lagoon and the waves push them to shore. The crashing waves slowly break down the ice until they are completely melted. As we were taking pictures of the ice, I glanced up. Oh. My. Gosh. I started screaming, "WHALE! WHALE!" Tim thought I was joking at first but he said he's never seen that kind of joy on my face in all the years we've been together. Yes, there were whale - right off the beach!!! We think they were Minke whales. One breached a couple times and I got a poor photo of it - but proof nonetheless that we saw it. We followed the whale down the beach for a while, keeping an eye on the Tern that also followed it, but all we could see was an occasional fin or water blown from its blow hole. So exhilarating!

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We stayed on the beach for a while and took pictures of the ice before heading back. Earlier in the day, during our drive to the lagoon, we made note of several areas we wanted to pull off on our way back. Below are some pictures of an old barn and a beautiful stream flowing through a lava field right at the side of the road.

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When we got back to town we headed to Systrakaffi, the same restaurant where we ate the last few nights, because I wanted to try the Arctic Charr. Wow - hands down the best meal I've had since we've been here. Tim had a BBQ burger and he said it was also very good.

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I still can't believe we were able to see seal and whales today - an unbelievable day and so far, the highlight of our trip. That wraps up our tour of the southeast. Tomorrow we head back west where we'll be spending the remainder of the trip. Blue Lagoon here we come!

Posted by juliejakicic 14:26 Archived in Iceland Tagged boat ice tour seal whale iceland ducky jökulsarlon glacier_lagoon

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