April 12th, 2017
Today was our first big drive day. We ripped up the East coast, taking in views of the ocean, then some mountains, tiny little fishing towns, then more ocean!
The coast of Iceland is beautiful. In some areas the water is calm and blue. In others, white caps are visible and some decent size waves hit the black rocks on the shores. We took in the views and enjoyed our trek. We also spotted a ton of reindeer during todays drive! No Rudolf though...
For lunch, we decided to save some Krona & make PB & J sandwiches. When we arrived in Egilsstadir we had a quick picnic before hitting the road again.
The most interesting (read: horrifying) part of our drive was getting a little bit lost looking for Dettifoss. Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe, so we were determined to find it. Our GPS took us down a funky gravel road for about 20 minutes, where we found a road barrier. The gravel road leading to Dettifoss was closed. Huh. Thankfully, Mark's phone had some reception & he found us an alternate route via the highway and an actual paved road! Dettifoss is located in Vatnajökull National Park & is pretty far north, so there was a lot of snow on site. It was pretty chilly, but we walked over to the lookout and were glad we had found it.
We also saw some of the dumbest tourists here. Dettifoss is about 44 meters high. The lookout point we were at sits well above that, looking down onto the falls from a rocky, snow covered cliff. There are signs everywhere cautioning hikers to stay within the marked areas, as snow may look like you can stand on it but actually be hollow underneath. I couldn't believe how many people were ignoring those signs! You can slip off the edge to your death. We also got to witness a mom lifting her 6-ish year old child OVER the barrier, then stepping over it herself to take a photo closer to the snowy/rocky edge. Unreal.
We saw some more natural hot springs on our drive down the mountain to Húsavík. They stank of sulphur but that blue water...so nice. These pools were way too hot for people, but this particular spot had some sort of building/power plant on the edge, maybe to harness the geothermal energy?
We arrived in Húsavík tired & hangry (okay, only one of us was hangry, and it was me). We initially went to the wrong guesthouse, but the manager of it graciously jumped in his car and led us over to the correct spot, only about a minute away! He told us that Húsavík's tourism industry has experienced a HUGE uptick in the past few years, and that their whale watching tours drew over 20,000 tourists last year (don't quote me on this number, I'm just going off what he said!). For a tiny town with a population of 2,182, that's pretty impressive.
After dinner, I was exhausted & feeling not the best, so I went to bed pretty early. Mark, the dedicated Oiler fan, stayed up to watch the playoff game at 2:00 am!
April 13th, 2017
Our initial plan before leaving Húsavík was to check out the Exploration Museum, Whale Museum, and Húsavík (general?) Museum. Turns out all three were closed, due to the 5 day long celebration of Easter that happens in Iceland! Maundy Thursday is observed in Iceland to commemorate the Last Supper. We were disappointed that we couldn't see the museums, but delighted by the hourly ding-dongs of the local church. We packed up Fjord & headed back onto the highway.
Our first stop of the day was in Akureyri. Akureyri is located at the bottom (base?) of the Eyjafjörður Fjord, so we got to drive on a long between these two huge mountains. The water beneath us led out to the sea. We sort of stumbled upon Akureyri, not realizing that it was the capital of Northern Iceland. We weren't even going to stop there, but the brightly coloured buildings & boats begged a closer look. I don't know why we didn't take more photos, but we just sort of enjoyed the town!
We drove up the hill in town to visit Akureyrarkirkja. There was a service about to start, so we didn't stay long, but the architecture again amazed me. So industrial & dark on the exterior, with an opposing interior, full of stained glass & light.
We had a lovely lunch in a little hostel restaurant, and wandered through a few shops. Then it was back on the road.
We stopped at a few random places along the drive, and spent our day singing along to our music and snacking. I'm so thankful to have a husband who I can enjoy quiet days & adventurous outings with.
Our quiet driving day took an unexpected turn when we started to navigate towards our last stop: the Fossatun Camping Pods. Again, the GPS took us along "the road less travelled". This road was straight up backcountry. I felt like we were in a Jeep commercial. Mark took it as slow as possible, and poor Fjord worked hard to get us through. After a 45 minute roller coaster, we were back onto a paved road...realizing it was the same road our GPS had ordered us to turn off of. Oh well! We had some laughs & continued on.
Arriving at the Camping Pods was awesome. We were staying in one of the small pointed-roof cabins, and it was so cozy. The grounds also had a bunch of troll sculptures that went along with a story. Mark was made into soup.
We really enjoyed the Fossatun Camping Pods. The whole vibe was very relaxed, and it seemed like a great place to spend a few nights. We would definitely come back, allowing more time there to enjoy a hike, the hot tubs, and the restaurant on site.
April 14th, 2017
Our last day in Iceland. We took our time packing up before heading back to Reykjavik. We did get to experience going through a Chunnel to get back into Reykjavik. Mark felt a little claustrophobic at first, but quickly got used to the feeling of being in a giant tunnel under the sea.
We arrived into Reykjavik with more time than we had originally anticipated, so we got a coffee and piece of cake at a cafe, then spent an hour or so driving through the areas of the city we didn't get to see before. We would have popped into many of the museums & galleries we passed, but again, unfortunately everything was closed for the Easter long weekend.
When we got to Keflavik airport, we were searching for the Parking Lot where we were to return our rental car. After driving around for a bit, we stopped to ask a worker where it was. He pointed out the lot, and told us it was closed because it was full, "but you can go in, and just park in the middle of the road. No one cares." A truly Icelandic, nonchalant answer.
We loved our time in Iceland. Although we had to cut out a few stops, we still had a wonderful time.
- Amy & Mark