Hallstatt is a village on Lake Hallstatt’s western shore in Austria’s mountainous Salzkammergut region. Its 16th-century Alpine houses and alleyways are home to cafes and shops. A funicular railway connects to Salzwelten, an ancient salt mine with a subterranean salt lake, and to a viewing platform over the lake. To the west, a trail leads to the Echern Valley with its glacial potholes and Waldbachstrub Waterfall.
Iceland Day 2: Tectonic Plates, Geysers, Glacial Waterfalls
After exploring Reykjavik some more in the morning, I hopped on another tour bus to visit the national park areas in Iceland. Of course I hate tour groups, but it’s really the only way to see the outdoor stuff in the winter with the icy roads. And the outdoor stuff in Iceland is well worth seeing.
There’s only a few hours of daylight in mid December, and the tour took advantage of most of it. First we visited the mid-atlantic ridge, where the American plate is sliding away from the European plate and leaving a massive fissure in the Earth.
And oh man was it cold and windy. The snow in the wind was like sandpaper. Check out my “I’m fucking cold” face:
Afterwards we left to visit some geysers. The word “geyser” actually comes from Icelandic, which makes sense given the volcanic activity on the island. The guide warned us not to walk off the path, because the grass can be thin and you can step right through into boiling water.
I took her word for it.
Around the geysers it was really icy, which would have been fine except it was ridiculously windy too. It was like Iceland was conspiring against you: you’d be trying to walk slow and then the wind would try to push you down the ice.
Also I got paranoid about the stepping-through-to-boiling-hot-water thing, so I followed this fat guy. At one point he said to his friend “the ice is cracking” and I was like “ABANDON SHIP!!!”
Then, as the sun was setting we went to visit a waterfall. At first I was like “pfft fuck that who cares about a stupid waterfall.” But it was really amazing actually, since it was this massive waterfall cutting through glacial ice.
I couldn’t stay outside too long at the waterfall but it was really cool to see.
Really the majority of the 6 hour tour was spent in the bus. Which was actually cool to just drive around the Icelandic landscape. Normally I hate that style of tourism but in the Icelandic winter it makes sense since you really can’t stay outside for too long.
One thing I noticed was that even though the day was short, the sun took a really long time to set. So even though the official daylight period is pretty short, there’s a lot of dusk as well.
Bonus: on our coffee break I tried Skyr, which is this Icelandic yogurt product that is really yummy.