Monday, October 31, 2016

NORTH ICELAND









We are on day three of our Ring Road Trip! Here's a look at where we explored. 

Dettifoss - Pure power this one. The most powerful waterfall in Europe! Wild and fierce among a raw and rugged landscape - Dettifoss crashes hard into Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon. Located in Vatnajökull National Park, I consider it a can't miss detour if you're driving through North Iceland. You take 864 for the east bank, which is a harsh gravel road. All along we had left this detour open for a game time decision - so we originally passed by the turn but immediately pulled over to decide. After the jaw dropping views and that overhwleming but also incredibly humbling feeling where you become a teeny tiny human in the earths presence, there should never have been any debate. Go. To. Dettifoss.

Donuts - Driving back down 864 our stomachs started rumbling. All we'd had to eat today was some skyr and granola bars from the grocery store in Djúpivogur and the ham and cheese croissants from the bakari in Fellabær. The donuts from said bakari were still sitting in the backseat - salted caramel and coconut, both with luscious chocolate frosting. So I don't know if it is because these were our late lunch or if they were actually the best donuts I've ever tasted. Let's go with the latter. That bakari find was a true gem. 

Mývatn Geothermal Area - There is a lot to explore in this active volcanic region such as Lake Mývatn and Grjótagjá Cave. We stopped at the base of Mt. Námafjall where some wild geothermal activity occurs - gray bubbling mud pools, boiling pits and and steaming rocks. The sulfur fumes were rather overwhelming but I'm glad we checked it out. Otherwise, it was all about the Myvatn Nature Baths; also called the "blue lagoon of the north" which was super relaxing. I wished we had a little more time in the area overall, but we were pushing to make it to Akureyri before dark to have a nice dinner and settle in for a (fingers crossed) Northern Lights Show

Selfies - Einstock Icelandic Arctic Pale Ale - brewed in Akureyri (Iceland's second largest urban area, 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle) this quickly became my favorite beer in Iceland - along with their Icelandic White Ale. And just for fun: a quick shout out to three of my favorite brands / SunglassesSunski - Dipsea Emerald Tortise / BikiniKiini - Tuesday Bikini Top + Bottom SocksSmartwool.

Goðafoss - Oh yea!! Another waterfall on my road trip list that I somehow forgot about until we spotted her. You can see Goðafoss right from the Ring Road - no crazy detours or gravels roads to treck. The sun had just ducked behind the mountains in the distance, leaving us a little golden hour light to hop across the submerged rock trail out to the multiple sets of falls. Another beauty right here!!

Akureyri next!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

EAST ICELAND


I will fondly remember the drives in East Iceland from Jökulsárlón to Höfn, Höfn to Djúpivogur, and the next day, Djúpivogur to Egilsstaðir. We reached a part of Iceland past the tour buses, a new Iceland if you will. The scenery continues to transfix and amaze, the roads wind even longer - looping around mountains and sprawling across fjords. We detoured off the main road to Höfn, it's a large town by Iceland standards and I was glad to have taken the short drive to check it out and refuel. 

On the way to Djúpivogur we found a safe pull off and spent time with the Icelandic Ponies. They are a gentle spirit and really warmed to our presence. A couple cars stopped for brief photo shoots but otherwise it was just us and 11 horses. Back on the road as darkness fell, I drove nervously around the winding fjord roads with their blind curves and steep inclines and declines. We could see Djúpivogur lit up in the distance at times but looping around each point it seemed to take forever to get there! 

We stayed at Hotel Framtid which offers warm and cozy, chic meets rustic cabin accommodations. We arrived around 8:15 pm - our latest arrival to any town on the trip, and were told the restaurant was only open till 8:30 so to put our bags away and come right down for dinner! (This worked out well as there was definitely nowhere else in town to eat.) Afterwards, we bundled up and headed Northern Lights hunting. We were treated to a spectacular show. My photos are just meh though so I'm leaving that as an undocumented, highly cherished bucket list check. They were green and purple, shooting beacons, swaying artfully, unlike anything you can imagine. I was shrieking and jumping up and down when they came out in full force. Unreal. 

It was nice to see the charming postcard village of Djúpivogur in the daylight as the fog rose off the glossy harbor. I was looking forward to visiting Langabúð (that big red barn on the harbor) for breakfast but they were already closed for the winter season. Instead we stopped at the towns grocery store for provisions and off we went.

Shortly after leaving Djúpivogur you reach the gravel section of Ring Road. Buckle in for a bumpy but fun ride through narrow passes, around sharp hairpins and blind summits. It is only open in spring, summer and autumn, for good reason. We remarked this is definitely not a road we'd want to be driving in the dark, the snow or without 4WD. 

We reached the next big town of Egilsstaðir and drove around, hopped out at the cool looking church. Across the bridge in Fellabær right next to the Olis gas station we discovered the cutest little Bakari! We purchased delicious ham and cheese croissants and fresh donuts for the long road ahead to Mývatn.