We had a great plan for this month’s travel feature: a road trip along the south coast of Iceland, a journey to Nauthúsagil Waterfall and telling the fascinating yet haunting history of the ravine.
Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned here, for what we didn’t count on was that bitch Mother Nature.
Rain rain, go away
The Grapevine’s photographer Art Bicnick and I set off for our adventure at 9:00 sharp on a grim, grisly, grey Friday. At first, it was a breath-taking drive along the coast; an ethereal fog lay low over the mountains, giving the entire area a mysterious kind of vibe as the sharp, black, jagged cliff faces peered through the mist as if they were watching our little car the entire time.
It’s an exceptional drive that cuts through flat wetlands. I didn’t expect to find such a landscape in Iceland, so I did a quick Google search to see what was up with that. Apparently, the mountains you see standing tall above the flat farmlands used to make up the coast of the country. This was the case until the end of the Ice Age, when everything melted and made way for more land. Everyday is a lesson, huh?
Suddenly, it began to rain. Hard. The raindrops crashed down on the windscreen and the wind picked up too. At first, I was still confident about our chances, thinking “Ho-hum, a bit of rain never hurt anyone, right? It won’t stop us from exploring.” How naïve I was.
After powering through a small river that had flooded across the road, we arrived at Nauthúsagil. An empty car park awaited us, which should have been a warning, but still we pulled up, hopped out the car and headed towards the canyon.
Only two minutes later, we encountered the first problem of the day. The rain was so heavy that the river had actually engulfed the path we needed to take . Great— our two minutes in the downpour had been for nothing.
So we discussed our options. Art, in his wisdom, decided we should venture a little further and visit another waterfall further along the coast. This one was a bit more well known than Nauthúsagil, he explained. Its name? Seljalandsfoss.
Yeah, we know you’ve seen this waterfall before
So after a short and uneventful drive down the road, we made it to the equally empty car park next to Seljalandsfoss. As in Nauthúsagil, the intense rain had a huge effect on the waterfall. It was more powerful than I’ve ever seen; so powerful that trying to walk behind the waterfall soaked me in a similar fashion to being sprayed by a hundred Super-Soakers. Nonetheless, it was a sight to behold. The water was flowing fast, crashing down hard and creating a spray so powerful, it felt like I was being slapped across the face by a wet flannel. Lovely.
The water at Seljalandsfoss comes from the Eyjafjallajökull glacier and splits off into three different falls along the cliff face. Seljalandsfoss is by far the most popular of the three due to the fact that it can be fully encircled—something that is quite rare for a waterfall. Art once again had the great idea to go slightly further along the cliff to see the third waterfall that flows through a canyon, similar to Nauthúsagil. This waterfall is known as Gljúfrabúi and, like Nauthúsagil, you can walk inside the canyon to get a closer look. But, in what was becoming the theme for the day, the downpour made the river too strong for us to walk through.
At this point, we were both sick of everything going wrong on our little adventure so we decided to sack it all off and grab coffee.
Too Skool For Cool
When you think of quality coffee, you probably don’t think of coffee made in the back of an old American school bus. But I love to be proven wrong and in this case, boy was I wrong. Skool Beans opened last summer and is run solely by Holly Keyser; a bubbly gal who moved to Iceland a few years back. She bought the bus from an expedition group for only 100,000 ISK and drove it to Vík where it now sits underneath the tall cliff faces that line the coast.
Holly opened the place in Vík because she felt as if the Icelandic people often get overlooked when new businesses come to the country. “In my four years of being here, I have seen lots of new and exciting things popping up, which is great but sadly, it’s all for tourists. I wanted to give something back to the locals and they’ve really helped me out by coming here for coffee,” she explained.
Holly was very keen to stress the purpose of the bus as it was something very important to her; the bus wasn’t just going to be like any other food truck. “The focus of the bus is ethical products at ethical prices,” she says. “I wanted to create a cozy environment away from the stresses of the world, where you can get warm and enjoy quality coffee.”
Holly roasts her own coffee and imports another from a fair-trade source. Also, her variety of tea was just exceptional—over 30 different types! To cap things off, she even had Yorkshire Tea for Britainers like myself on offer. Score!
So while the day may have gotten off to a bad start—what with all the rain and flooding— climbing aboard the old US school bus and being greeted with a selection of fresh delicious coffee and snacks made it all worth it. So we at the Grapevine cannot recommend this cosy café enough after a long day adventuring. A+ for Skool Beans! And a big fat F for nature.
Check out Skool Beans at skoolbeans.com
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