Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Iceland Day 9 - On the Road Again

Before leaving Hofsstaðir Guesthouse, we went across the road to get a closer look at this small pretty church.  

There were some Icelandic horses in the nearby fields.

Once we took off, one of the first tasks of the day was to find some gas. After driving for a bit we reached a teeny town with one unmanned gas pump. 

Today was a long driving day with no specific stops to break the drive up. It was gray and misty. More rolling hills, mountains, coastline. A large portion of this drive was on gravel and the weather was rainy. (We were fortunate that the two times that we had extended rain were when we had a long drive.)  

More Icelandic horses along the way, including some babies!

Midafternoon, we reached the coastline town of Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. We stayed at the Fransiskus Hótel, which shares a building with a convent and a hospital. It was another hotel with modern comfortable rooms that had views of the ocean, harbor, and lighthouse.

After a bit of a rest, we went to explore the town. We climbed up the hill that was right across from our hotel to the small lighthouse. There were lots of wildflowers in the rocky cliffs.

The sun eventually came out. We walked through the town, checked out a shop and the grocery store, and walked to this church (which once again had such unique architecture). There were only a few restaurants in town and we struggled to kill time until the one we wanted to eat at for dinner was opened up for the evening.

We dined at a small casual restaurant called Skúrinn. We had burgers and fusion fries (a combo of regular and sweet potato). Nothing unique, just your basic burger at Icelandic prices.

I woke about midnight and found this wonderful view of the midnight sun over the lighthouse out my window.

And I was very amused to see the weather report showed partly sunny at 3 am! 
It never got dark during our trip. Between 12 and 2 AM it only got a bit gray and dusky.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Iceland Day 8 - Hofsstaðir Guesthouse

Our hotel for the evening was lovely Hofsstaðir Guesthouse. This spot truly is in the middle of nowhere. It lies in a lush green river valley with mountains and the ocean in the distance.

Our rooms once again were modern and had a little porch area where we could enjoy the gorgeous view. A bit of construction going on at this location, too.

We knew that there was nothing for miles, so we made reservations to eat at the restaurant located at the guesthouse. The menu is above.

We were amused by their "mineral water" which had pretty rocks at the bottom of the jar!

I had the arctic char which was delicious. It tasted similar to salmon but with a less fishy taste. The vinegarette on the salad was wonderful, too! We shared a dessert of the Country Cake.

Here is the view out the restaurant window. Loved the display of rocks along the window sill.

A traditional turf house was located right in front of the guesthouse.

Although it was cloudy and a bit misty while we were here, we did awake to a slight burst of sunshine in the morning and a faint rainbow.

The delicious breakfast included warm bread and some of their homemade jams. They also had leftovers of the char, lamb, and horse steak from dinner last night, so you were able to sample anything you missed.

This was another amazing hotel booked for us by Nordic Advisor! (Note: a lot of these hotels appear to have partnerships with tour companies, so it seems to be difficult to book them directly.)

Iceland Day 8 - Up North

We left Myvatn today and headed toward through the northern region of Iceland. As we left Myvatn we somehow missed the fork that connected to the Ring Road (my fault, I was navigating) and took an unexpected loop towards the north. It actually wound through some beautiful areas but delayed us for about 45 minutes to get back on track.

Our first stop today was Godafoss,  a beautiful horseshoe-shaped waterfall which is right along the Ring Road. Godafoss means "waterfall of the gods." It is a short walk to the overlooks to view the falls.

We continued along the Ring Road to the larger town of Akureyri. This is the trickiest place in Iceland to visit, I think. First, there is a tunnel right before the town. You have to pay the fee for this tunnel online within a few hours or else you will be hit with a big fine. Second, in order to park in town, you need a "parking clock" which is simply a piece of paper where you write down the time that you left your car. Parking areas are labeled with different amounts of time. Both of these procedures prey on unaware tourists who haven't done their research.

We had lunch at Akureyri Fish and Chips and enjoyed a huge piece of crispy fish. I also got a bit addicted to the Appelsin orange pop. We stopped for ice cream at Valdis (which also has a shop in Reykjavik). So many good flavors. 

We strolled the shops for about an hour and picked up a few souvenirs. We also made a quick stop at the church. The architecture of the churches in Iceland is so unique.

We now took a detour off the Ring Road and drove north along the Trollaskagi peninsula. This pretty route (with some gravel sections) wound along the coast through fjords and tiny fishing villages. The big excitement along this route were the tunnels! Two of them were single lanes with two-way traffic! Every so often there were alcoves where you could pull off if traffic was coming in the opposite direction. 

We made a short stop at the small town of Siglufjordur. It was nestled under snowy mountains along the harbor and has a few shops which we wandered through. Then we headed towards our hotel for the evening, Hofsstaðir Guesthouse. More about this lovely guesthouse in the next post!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Iceland Day 7 - Lake Mývatn

It was great to have a day of touring where all the attractions around Lake Myvatn were just a short drive away. Each spot had an easy hike of about an hour to see the main attractions. Here is an overview of where we visited:

Dimmuborgir - This area is filled with large wild lava formations and caves which you can hike around and through. Early mornings are not as busy, but the location of the sun at that time washed out my photos a bit. Tradition says the trolls live in the caves. We came back to the cafe at this location for lunch. They had a nice all you can eat soup and bread lunch - the coconut curry soup was especially good. Weather was beautiful and we ate on the patio with a view of the lava formations. More info in this Dimmuborgir Article.

Hofdi - We hiked through the woods to view the lava pillars in the water. You can also see these formations from a viewpoint along the road, so the hike isn't essential. More info in this Hofdi article.

Pseudo-craters - We went for a short walk through the pseudo-craters of Skutustagigar. Quite a few birds in the water. More info in the Pseudocraters article.

Hverir - My favorite stop of the day and one you don't want to miss! As you drive up the hill towards Myvatn, you pass this orange, otherworldly location. This geothermal area has amazing fumaroles and colorful bubbling mud pools. It looks like you landed on Mars and smells of sulfur. The colors are incredible, especially on a sunny day with those puffy clouds! More info in the Hverir Article.

Krafla Viti - This crater is filled with aqua water. You can hike around the rim - we did only part of it. More info in the Krafla Viti Article.

We passed this geothermal power plant and even had to drive under the pipes!

Leirhnjukur - This was our last hike of the day. We jokingly called it the hike to nowhere. You hike quite a distance through a mossy lava field before you finally reach some black lava formations and a few bubbling pools. There was supposed to be lots of steaming lava rocks, but we were unimpressed with what we saw, partly because we were tired again, I'm sure! From what I read, there is a longer hike that has more interesting things to see. More info in this Leirhnjukur Article.

Along the road, in the middle of nowhere, there was this shower. It runs constantly, with warm geothermal water. According to the internet, it just appeared overnight!

After dinner at Daddi's Pizza (good but Iceland price), three of us went to the Myvatn Nature Baths for a relaxing soak in the warm geothermal waters. It is in a beautiful location overlooking the lake. I thought the locker rooms were a bit rustic and the edges of the pool were a bit slimy, but hey, it's part of the experience, right?


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