There will come a time, I hope soon – how soon is soon? – when we’re released from the grip of this pandemic nightmare and we’ll be free to travel again. For the time being, I can only reminisce on past trips to glorious places. This blog risks becoming a mixture of posts on pretty pictures taken in Belgium, where I’m still allowed to travel relatively unencumbered, and a postcard picture collection of Iceland. Well, so be it. The urge to fly back to Iceland with a vengeance, once we’re allowed to do it, is very strong!
Driving along the spectacular southern section of the coastal road in Iceland – a road that encircles the entire country, imaginatively named “1” – you will at one point notice a small layby for parking, probably a few cars and several hunched human figures wearing thick jackets moving around. They’ll be having a look at Laufskálavarða – the Laufskála cairn. To spare you the trouble of looking it up, I googled the word “cairn” myself. It’s a mound of stones built as a landmark or a memorial. It is said that Laufskála used to be a large farm that was destroyed by a volcanic eruption, more than a thousand years ago. Nowadays, all that remains is a mound of lava rising four or five metres above the surrounding plain, which is in turn dotted by many hundreds of smaller mounds.
These smaller cairns were built by visitors to the site. In the background, a majestic vista of volcanoes covered by glaciers is guaranteed to take your breath away.
Adding a stone to a mound brings you good luck during your journey. My son Gianluca and I started our very own varða and, indeed, our journey from then on proceeded well.
All of this is explained in some further detail on an information board on site.
I’m so looking forward to my next visit to this fascinating country!