Our interns Thomas and Thilo went on a day trip to the Westman islands where they got to taste volcano-grilled bratwurst.
So we decided to go for a trip to those islands in South Iceland which everyone seems to be talking about. The Westman islands (or Vestmannaeyjar as they call them here) are a group of 15 islands located just off the coast in South West Iceland. The name is said to originate from the Irish slaves who used to live there and were captured by the Vikings. The Irish were traditionally reffered to as „Westmen“ ... which makes no sense at all since Ireland is located more easterly than Iceland... but that‘s another story :-)
What the Westman islands are really famous for though is extraordinary volcanic eruptions. In 1963 an undersea eruption formed an island known as Surtsey. How crazy is that! Imagine going to bed one night, waking up the next day and then seeing an island rising from the sea. Crazy! :-) Ten years later, in 1973, another eruption broke out on the main island of Heimaey, causing the island‘s 5000 inhabitants to evacuate. The eruption happened without any warning signs at all and it is still regarded a mircale that everyone made it off the island alive that day – largely thanks to the emergency assistance of the Vestmannaeyjar fishermen. After the eruption a 205 m tall volcano, known as Eldfell, was standing where there only had been meadow before. Again, unbelievable!
It is really easy to go to the Westman islands. After a ferry ride of only 30 minutes you reach the harbour in Heimaey. A small harbour surrounded by tall green cliffs. But when you look to the left the landscape changes. It becomes dark and reddish and two prominent volcanoes tower above the small town.
Hiking up the volcanoes is easy but amazing. Interesting hikes up through lava fields and the views offered from the the two tops are excellent. But the perhaps most amazing thing is that the volcano Eldfell is still very hot and you can in fact feel this when standing on the summit - and as I was in the company of Germans/Geologists/Food lovers, we planned to test the grilling abilities of the volcano. For that purpose we brought along a couple of Bratwursts... obviously :-) After finding a proper hole and gently put the Bratwursts in it all we had to do was to wait. And wait and wait and wait. Okay let‘s just say we waited for quite a while.. but all that waiting was totally worth it. It turned out to be the best bratwurst I‘ve ever had – and hands down - it‘s pretty RAD to have something grilled on a real explosive volcano! We recommend enjyoing the bratwurst with a lot of love for the Icelandic nature and perhaps a real Icelandic beer :-)
If you want to have a great volcanic experience in the Westman islands as well, we figured there are 4 things you have to do. Watch the video below to know which.
Interns Double-T, Thilo and Thomas