April 8th, 2017
We got our car rental on April 8th, and it's a cute little Ford Explorer, whom we've decided to call Fjord. We were excited to get going on the road!
Our first stop of the day was at Öxarárfoss. Foss apparently means waterfall, so all the locations we visit that end in "foss" are waterfalls, FYI. Mark thinks that this is a way more efficient way of saying "waterfall".
Öxarárfoss is located in Þingvellir National Park, which is also home to Iceland's oldest parliament, dating back to the 10th century. We enjoyed to beautiful views and the crashing sound of the water before packing back into Fjord to head to our next destination.
Kerið Crater came next, a volcanic crater lake that is about 180 feet deep. The wind around the crater was super strong, which you can see in the movement of the water inside. We were struck again by how blue the water was (Icelandic water is not like Canadian water!).
A short drive down the road from the crater was Geysir, which is quite obviously a Geyser! The eggy smell of sulphur was strong around the site, and we passed a few hot pools as we walked the short trail to Geysir. These pools are waaaay too warm for people to go in, but still look beautiful. As we approached the geyser, it suddenly "went off". We were unprepared for the 5 - 10 second burst of water and steam, so we settled down on a bench to wait for the next eruption. About 10 minutes later, enough pressure had built to cause another eruption (and Mark thankfully had his camera ready!). It's pretty cool to see the hot water jet about 30 feet into the air, and then watch the warm cloud of steam float slowly away.
Our dinner was at a lovely family-operated restaurant called "Mika". They get most of their ingredients from local greenhouses and farms, and even make their own chocolates on site (yes, we tried some, they rocked). We also tried Langoustine for the first time, which is like a little mini lobster. Langoustine is a very "Iceland-y" food, along with lamb/mutton & shark (sad face). According to Valdi, shark tastes like "they have left it in a hole for two days and twenty men have come to piss on it". Sounds appetizing!
On our drive to our guesthouse, we kept seeing little painted wooden houses and doors leaned up against the rocks on the hillside. When we looked it up, we discovered that these are called "Elf Houses", built and placed by Icelanders to help the Elves rest during winter. After discovering this, we mused that it is easy to see why the Folklore has survived in Iceland. The hulking mountains look like they are hiding secrets...Sarah Brightman's "Figlio Perduto" suddenly seems even creepier...
April 9th, 2017
The sun was shining into our quaint guesthouse room and we were eager to get on the road again. Gullfoss was first on our itinerary, and it sounded amazing. When we arrived to the site, we were speechless.
Gullfoss made Öxarárfoss look like Splash Mountain. The thundering of the falls was SO LOUD, and even though we were pretty far away and high up, the mist was still soaking us. The safety ropes had a thick layer of ice on them, and signs depicted tales of lovers separated by the impossible rushing water. It was amazing, definitely a highlight for both Mark & I.
For lunch, we headed to Friðheimar Farm. Friðheimar is a local greenhouse that grows a few different types of produce, but primarily specializes in tomatoes! We (stupidly) didn't make a reservation, but were greeted warmly and told to grab a drink from the bar, wander the greenhouse, and get some tomato soup & homemade bread to go on the way out. We happily obliged.
Mark ordered a Bloody Mary from the bar, made from the tomatoes grown at Friðheimar and their locally made Vodka. He said it was amazing!
The greenhouse smelled so fresh and delicious inside. We read about how local greenhouses have gained popularity in Iceland since 2010, which has helped to bring the cost of produce down by 31 - 52%. We also learned that the bees in Friðheimar are imported from Finland! Fancy Finnish Bees. We got our cups of steaming hot tomato soup and two hunks of homemade bread, as well as a container of ripe, red cherry tomatoes. Everything tasted delicious and so fresh!
Seljalandsfoss was our second waterfall of the day. It's very tall but a lot skinnier than the other falls we've seen. Tourist are able to walk up beside the rocks and go behind the fall (we didn't go behind---too slippery for me!), and there are trails for hiking.
After Seljalandsfoss, we went to one last fall, Skógafoss. Skógafoss is nestled in the mountains along the coast, and runs into the Skóga River. We were lucky & got to see a rainbow while we were there!
After our day of chasing waterfalls (TLC reference, not sorry), we started to head to our next guesthouse in which was about 30 minutes outside of Vik. On the way, we stopped to take in a beautiful mountain view. We didn't realize what we were looking at was Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that erupted back in 2010! It lovely, and the valley below was green & lush! Not covered in ash or anything, which surprised me.
We also passed by a turf home that was built into the side of a massive boulder, so Mark pulled over. I'm so happy he did, because an inconspicuous sign to the left of the dirt road we pulled onto invited us to walk over to the house for a closer look. We did, and it was so neat. The front of the home had a few steps down into the "main" area, and by ducking under a low beam, we could go inside. The ceilings were extremely low and moss had taken over inside, but the chill from the wind was immediately gone. It was probably very cozy back when it was habitable!
Our guesthouse was cute and clean, and probably had the tiniest room I've ever slept in. Also, instead of a double bed or two singles pushed together as is typical for Europe, we had a bunk bed! Not sure why they felt that was necessary (I mean, I'm already pregnant, so what other kind of shenanigans could I get into?).
Thanks for reading!
- Amy & Mark