I spent the weekend with three friends at a summerhouse below the lupine-covered cliffs of Vik. Saturday was one of those gray days that made the grass appear almost neon and shrouded the peaks of the cliffs in mist, so we were glad to be in a house rather than tenting like our neighbors were. The cottage was a mini Siamese-twin pair of cottages tucked among the buttercups and the cliff walls. Although the ocean was a five-minute stride from the front door, the roar of the waves and the screee of the hundreds of terns permeated the house, even with the door closed.
After we had arrived and taken the obligatory walk down to the black sand beach, I climbed up through the lupines to a wedge of moss-covered rock halfway up the cliff, where I lay down to face the sky. After lying still for a few minutes, the fulmar living in the cliffs forgot my disturbance, and resumed their soaring. They rode the unpredictable air currents, ruddering their tails, passing not an arms-length from where I lay. I watched them conversing in their nests tucked into the cliff walls, their chattering accompanied only by the roar of the sea and the seeping drip of water oozing from the stones above.
Later, we all tucked up inside, as the rain swept in and started to spatter the windows. The house was slightly tacky in the way summerhouses are- fake stone paneling on the walls, jumbled assortments of knickknacks, too many decks of incomplete playing cards, and a refrigerator that hummed just a bit too loud. Still, it was just the place for reading, and we all spent the afternoon lounging lazily.
Supper came late, when everyone was finally torn from their books, puzzles, or napping. We only had two burners, so we grilled everything outside, in spite of the sheets of rain outside.
We made salmon covered in chopped ginger & garlic, layered with lemon slices and salt and pepper packets taken from the Esso station down the street, potatoes with a skyr-garlic-cucumber sauce, and a gigantic salad.
After dinner, we cleared the table and set to the obligatory card-playing, letting German mint-flavored chocolates melt above our tongues as we played rummy, drinking herbal schnapps and wine from juice glasses.
The storm made it almost properly dark, so sleeping was cozy in the loft, just barely big enough for the four slim mattresses. We left the window to the back of the cliff open, so the croaking of the fulmar in the cliffs whispered with the wind and the sea through the curtains on the tiny window. Lofts are lovely for sleeping when the wind spatters the rain in patterns on the roof, and your nose is inches away from the slope, cozy, dry, and safe. A favorite feeling.
The next day dawned an arc of perfect blue, so we went to the pool, of course. The complex at Vík is just the right size, with a gaudy snake-shaped waterslide, a functional country-sized pool (not quite
25 meters but long enough to feel like you are Getting Somewhere when you do laps), and two temperatures of hot tub. They had flippers and floats to borrow, so we flipped and floated across the pool before retiring to the hotter tubs, basking in the surprisingly balmy air and wind-free sunshine.
After swimming we headed back for more reading and eating, with the intention to bake an apple cake using the only heating apparatus we had- the barbecue. While it was "baking" I climbed up the cliffs to see the view from above, and to follow the brook that created the waterfall near the house. It was nestled in a shallow valley, and the grass grew thick around its edges, obscuring it so much in places that the only evidence was the sound. The wind was calmer there, and I found a mossy rock to lean against. This is the Iceland I didn't know existed, blooming with purple and yellow flowers, scented of fresh summer grass, looking towards the wedge of ocean where the brook dropped over the cliff, warm enough to contemplate shorts and a t-shirt.
I headed back after a few minutes to check on the cake progress, and to join everyone else on the deck reading books. Unfortunately, we learned that a barbecue is not the most effective baking apparatus, so in spite of our best efforts, the thing was completely scorched on the bottom. We scooped what we could out of the top though, and eaten with a dollop of sour cream, it was actually quite delicious. Worth making again in a proper oven.
The day was waning by then and we had to drive the three hours back to town, so we packed up the car and hit the road after one final trip down to see the famous view in the spectacular weather. On the way back we joined the stream of French tourists at Dyrhólaey for some photos, then it was back to the road and reality, such as it is here in Iceland.
Ship sighting: Although the town I visited is called Vík, or "bay", there is actually not much of a bay there. It's probably the worst place I could imagine trying to land a boat, with the roaring surf and jagged cliffs. So the only boat I saw over the weekend was a distant fishing-boat, almost on the horizon. It looks like the past two days in the REAL V-Í-K was the usual summer influx of cruise ships though, and two are slated to leave today. One is the Costa Classica, and they have a webcam on board so you can see what the harbor looks like from their deck Right Now (at least until 7pm GMT when they leave here). If that view of our currently cloudy bay was tempting enough that you want to cruise here yourself, check out photos of life on board here.