If there was one area we wish we had time to explore, it would be the South Coast of Iceland. With its beautiful landscapes, the mountains, glaciers, waterfalls and beaches, a day or 2 is not enough. Unfortunately, our visit to Iceland only allowed us 2 days to explore the southern portion of Iceland.
On our road trip to the southern coast, we also passed by many fields of Icelandic horses, herds of sheep, cattle, Icelandic turf houses, and volcanoes including Eyjafjallajökull.
The Volcano that erupted in 2010. This eruption stops air traffic in Europe for a week.
Eyjafjallajökull is actually three Icelandic words put together
Eyja = island, fjalla = mountain, jökull = glacier
Can you pronounce the word?
- ‘j‘ sounds like the ‘y’ in yes;
- ‘ll‘ sounds like the ‘tl‘ in ‘kettle’ in English.
There’s a small Visitor Center along the southern coast road, and in front of it is the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. When we stopped by it was covered with clouds. Nothing visible.
We stopped and say hi to the beautiful and friendly Icelandic horses. There are many horses in fields along the drive, and you can pull over and walk right up to the fences. These horses are pretty unique because they are purebred Icelandic horses.
There are sheep everywhere. We didn’t see any sheep in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. But we saw them everywhere else, roaming freely over hills and open fields. Given how many sheep there are in Iceland, it’s amazing how seldom we had to stop and wait for them to cross the road. You should have your eyes wide open when driving, sheep might be standing in the middle of the road. Icelandic sheep is a bit different from other sheep. They have short tail and have horns, but a little smaller than of the rams. White is the common color of the sheep, but they also do have black and brown.
Icelandic cow came originally from Norway with settlers around the year 890. It has been mostly isolated since then.
Icelandic Turf Houses
Turf houses were the product of a difficult climate, offering superior insulation compared to buildings solely made of wood or stone, and the relative difficulty in obtaining other construction materials in sufficient quantities.
30% of Iceland was forested when it was settled, mostly with birch. Oak was the preferred timber for building Norse halls in Scandinavia, but native birch had to serve as the primary framing material on the remote island. However, Iceland did have a large amount of turf that was suitable for construction. Some structures in Norway had turf roofs, so the notion of using this as a building material was not alien to many settlers.