Iceland 2 week trip itinerary/report

Old Jul 25th, 2015, 02:14 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
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More, please.

Lots more.

We have decided tonight to go to Iceland in February. Have absolutely no time now to plan anything. This thread is invaluable.

Thanks
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Old Jul 25th, 2015, 03:22 PM
  #22  
 
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go for it dickie.

you should get to see the northern Lights - how long have you got?
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Old Jul 25th, 2015, 04:18 PM
  #23  
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Day 3 - Tue, June 30 southwest to Skaftafell
Skogafoss
Dyrholaey
Reynisfjara
Vik
Fjadragljufur canyon
overnight: Hotel Skaftafell (only because the road was closed and we couldn't get to our Nonhamar cabin)

An abrupt change of plans today!

The day started off perfect! We went to a groovy waterfall called Skogafoss (on the south coast). It was mostly sunny, almost sorta warm, not windy, and not many people around. We took the stairs up on the side of the falls then hiked along the top for a while. Fabulous!! We found a few more falls along the way, some sheep and great views. We all agreed it was a 10 event. They both praised my trip planning quite a lot while there. Good thing I racked up some points early on...

Then on to a promontory called Dyrholaey where I thought we might see some puffins. The GPS led us uphill on a dirt road and even when we got to the parking lot, darn thing told us to drive over the edge. We didn't. The wind up there was INSANE. Y guessed 80 mph. It was hard to walk and we didn't see any puffins. We did see the cliffs and tried not to get too close for fear of being blown over. Lost a few points on that one.

Then onto Reynisfjara, a black sand beach. More outrageous wind. Hard core wind. But we did sorta see a black sand beach (it's hard to focus with 80 mph winds in your face) and some basalt columns and a rock formation out in the water that really really looked like a willy. Lost a few more points there, but got a few back since there was a cafe there and we had chocolate cake.

Next the town of Vik on the south coast. The wind wasn't quite so crazy, maybe only 50 mph, but it was pouring rain. We drove around to sightsee and went to a grocery store. woo hoo for Vik. We headed off, just wanting to get away from the wind.

Next stop was Fjudaklsjdflaskd canyon (sorry, don't remember the name but I bet that's close). Another 10! It was cloudy but not windy and not raining when we arrived, and no tour buses and only a few people. It's a gorgeous canyon with sheer walls covered with bright green moss. We hiked up along the top for a while and over to the viewpoints (trails to the edge). Very nice. I got a lot of points for that one!

Ok, time to head towards our cabin for the night, just past Skaftafell national park on the southeast coast. We were really tired and ready to get there, unload and have dinner. Just one problem. There was a tank and some policemen blocking the road, about 10 miles from the cabins. Ope! WTF??? Turns out the road was closed due to crazy wind down the road. We thought we had already seen crazy wind. Estimate of opening time?? Well of course, who knows what the wind will do, but the forecast is for crazy winds until midnight. Midnight!! And we're 10 miles from our hotel!! But hey, looky here, there's a hotel entrance just before the tank. One of the very few hotels (Hotel Skaftafell) in this area (seriously, there's not squat out here). I called the cabin and the guy said he wouldn't charge us if we can't get there and decide to stay somewhere else. Groovy! But where might we stay in high season out in the middle of nowhere?? This hotel? Surely it's all booked. I dashed inside and guess what? We got the LAST room. Really. We snatched it up and checked in, had another nice dinner of Icelandic smoked salmon and here we are at 7:30 and while the tank is gone, there's still a police car blocking the road. We have a glacier hike scheduled for tomorrow at 10, in the opposite direction of the police car, so hopefully that will go as planned. We'll see! So that's it for now. We're super duper happy that we're sitting in a hotel room post-dinner and not sitting in our car in the parking lot. later!

Notes
Dyrholaey – There are 2 roads going there. One is paved and stays level, one is dirt and goes uphill. The road uphill was winding, narrow and a bit rugged (or maybe just felt that way because I thought we were going to be blown off said road). I'd love to go back some day when it wasn't windy (if that ever happens).

Hotel Skaftafell – I vaguely remember reading bad reviews of this place, but after staying there, I have no idea why. It was perfectly acceptable, just pricey (but of course we didn't prebook). It was a standard, clean hotel with a nice breakfast buffet. The only downside for us was that we were self-catering for the most part, staying at places with fridges and microwaves and such, and had a cooler bag of food. They gave us a bag of ice and that worked well. No fridge or microwave in the room. The hotel is one floor and we had the room on the end and it was very quiet, and in a great location for exploring Skaftafell and the area.

THE WIND – I had been checking weather forecasts, knew about the warning signs, but the road closure totally caught us off guard. Yea, it was windy at Dyrholaey, but we were quite a ways from it and we had no problems driving or anything. If you see signs that say LOKAD (or something that looks like that), that's CLOSED, as in, the road is closed. If a local warns you about wind, listen. No one warned us, BTW, and the road would've stayed open except for what had happened. One more thing, if the winds are crazy, be careful how you park and open your car doors. I've read about car doors being slammed OPEN by the wind, messing up the hinges, and the renters have to pay for the repairs. If anyone says there's a sandstorm ahead, for the love of God, STOP!

Fjadragljufur canyon – So loved that place… sigh… There was quite a discussion about how to get there on the other travel board that I frequent. Here's what we found. Exit on road 206 off the ring road. It's paved for a bit then switches to dirt. It's a short drive, no problem at all for 2WD. The F206 road is a right turn off of 206, so you're not on an F road at all (can't take 2WD rental cars on F roads). There are bathrooms at the parking lot. You park and can hike as much or little as you want; the canyon is right there.
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Old Jul 25th, 2015, 04:32 PM
  #24  
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More notes
GPS - We got it with the rent car for about $100 more. Like I mentioned above, we put in Dyrholaey and it took us up the dirt road and told us to drive over the cliff. Another time in the trip it told us to go over the highlands from Akureyri to Reykjavik. I had enabled 'avoidances' or whatever it's called, but it still did that. So, if you use a GPS, also have a map handy and have an idea of where you're going. Don't blindly follow your GPS.

2WD vs 4WD - If you want to go on any F roads (rugged interior roads) you must rent a 4WD. If you take a 2WD rental on an F road, you'll be in a heap-o-doo doo if you have any problems at all, because it's strictly forbidden. Our 2WD was fine, but there were a few times I would've preferred a car with higher clearance. Dirt roads sometimes are a bit more rugged that you expect, even if they aren't F roads. Rocks are everywhere. I don't think you can drive on any road in Iceland, paved or not, and not find some rocks. They get flung at windshields. Ponder that when you're choosing your insurance. We used the zero deductible CDW provided by our credit card.

Sheep - They're everywhere. Watch our for sheep on the road, and just to the side of the road, and in the ditches. Hitting a sheep would no doubt ruin your holiday.
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Old Jul 25th, 2015, 07:28 PM
  #25  
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Day 4 - Wed, July 1 Skaftafell
Icelandic Mountain Guides - Blue Ice Experience (glacier hike)
hiking at Skaftafell: Svartifoss and Sel
overnight: Nonhamar cabin, Hof

A big thumbs up for day #4. Our hotel last night (Hotel Skaftafell) was actually pretty good. Our room was quiet and breakfast this morning was included. We were up early and had breakfast when it started at 0700. It was pretty standard stuff with the exception of some funky fish (possibly raw?) that Y really liked. He likes stinky fish. Called the original hotel (Nonhamar) and he said we could bring our stuff by this morning, so we cruised to our cabin to offload. We saw why the road was closed last night. We saw a camper van off the road in the gravel field, missing a chunk from the top and a debris field all around. Apparently it blew off the road and rolled. The wind was over 80mph through here last night. Yikes!! (the people are ok, btw) Our little cabin is soooooo cool!! It's tiny, but has 2 bunk beds and a little kitchen area, has a little stream on one side, stark mountains behind and off in the distance we can see the ocean.

We unloaded then headed to Skaftafell national park, on the SE side of Iceland, about 20 minutes away. I had booked a glacier walk at 10:00. There are glacier tongues sneaking out between the mountains all along the road here. We got crampons, piled in their van and drove to the glacier, then headed out exploring. Way cool! And ice picks. We got ice picks. I don't think the guide told us why we got them or what to do with them, but it was sorta cool. We stomped around on the ice for 1 1/2 hours, checking out crevices, caves and streams. X's favorite part was drinking from glacier streams. You dig your pick in across a stream (little streams, like 6" across) then basically do a pushup using the pick for support and stick your face in the water. The water tasted great! A lot of the glacier is covered with ash so it doesn't look quite as pretty as glaciers elsewhere. He showed us where the glacier used to be, just a few years ago, and it's pretty sad what global warming has done to them. Big thumbs up for that whole experience.

Back to the parking lot at the park and after a picnic lunch, we headed off on a hike to Svartifoss (black falls). It was a couple of miles to the falls that are called black falls because the rock behind them is black basalt columns.
Onto an old turf house (Sel) way up on the side of the mountain with really cool views over the sand/gravel fields that extend to the ocean. Then back down, back to our cabin, and that's it for today.

No crazy wind today (very little wind at all), no rain just clouds, maybe 60 degrees...nice day for Iceland! More cool stuff planned for this area tomorrow.

BTW, everyone speaks perfect English. I had read that Icelanders were
fairly chilly and not too friendly, but we've found them to be quite nice and polite. If we smile, they smile back. I'd also heard that prices here are crazy. I guess it depends how you look at it and what you do. Last night's emergency hotel was about $300 for an average hotel booked at the last minute. Our groovy little cabin down the road which we LOVE is half that. Smoked salmon seems to be cheaper than at home. A t-shirt at the national park gift shop was about $20.

Notes
Nonhamar – Loved it!! The owner couldn't have been nicer. Super nice and welcoming even with self check in. He lives next door. There are 3 cute little cabins. Small, quiet, comfortable, great location. Best deal of the whole trip.

Glacier tour – This is the tour we took. It was perfect for kids.
http://www.mountainguides.is/day-tou...ce-experience/

Skaftafell NP – Has a nice gift shop, café, lots of free bathrooms. Fairly easy hike to Svartifoss (our 9 year had no problem with the hike). Continue past the falls and up to a cool view point, then down to Sel, the turf house museum with fabulous views. I think we spent 2-3 hours on that going pretty slow.

Skyr – This has nothing to do with anything in particular from that day, except we ate it every morning for breakfast. Icelandic yogurt, like Greek yogurt but better. Low fat, high protein. YUM. It's pronounced like skeer.
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Old Jul 25th, 2015, 07:41 PM
  #26  
 
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what great information! thanks for sharing!
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Old Jul 25th, 2015, 08:10 PM
  #27  
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Day 5 - Thu, July 2 Skaftafell
Jokulsarlon, amphibious boat
Ingolfhofsdi tractor tour to see puffins
overnight: Nonhamar cabin, Hof

Another double thumbs up day! We started at Jokulsarlon on the east coast. It's a glacier lagoon. We got there around 8:30 and it was foggy and cold (but not raining!). We took an amphibious boat out on the lake amongst massive boulders of ice that calved from the glacier. Ice cold water, huge chunks of floating ice, a massive glacier off in the distance... yes, it was cold! Brrrr... After the boat ride (we saw some seals!) we walked along the shore and followed the very short river to the ocean, chasing ice boulders. It was pretty cool watching glacier chunks slam into others as they floated along. The beach there is black sand (as are most of the beaches on Iceland, from volcanic rock), and littered with huge chunks of ice that got stuck there. Groovy!!! But dang cold! Coldest I've been so far on this trip. But it was pretty nifty.

Later we drove back towards our cabin to Ingolfshofdi, the place where Ingolfur Arnarson (I think) landed in 824 and spent the first winter, as the first Norwegian to move here. I booked a tractor tour to a nature area to see puffins. The meeting place is a tiny shed out in the middle of nowhere. It was gray, a little windy and cold! We piled into the trailer pulled by a big tractor and headed off across what was essentially wet black sand, for 6 km. It stopped raining after a bit, yay! And then wasn't so cold. We pulled up to a promontory way far out from the coast, climbed a black sand hill and got to the grass covered hillside. The end of the hillside was a sheer cliff and at the top of the cliff were puffins! Lots and lots of puffins! How cool!! We got pretty close, maybe 10', but we didn't want to scare them off and they were at the top of a very sheer high cliff. They are really funny birds. They don't seem to fly well and every landing is like a crash landing. We also saw some great skuas, big ol' brown birds that don't like people, especially when they have their babies nearby. We saw some of their cute little babies and managed to not get dive bombed. We spent about 1 1/2 hours wandering around up there. Aside from the puffins, there were really cool views down to the waves crashing on a black beach. Beautiful!! Back to the car and stopped at an unmanned gas station. Like, never manned, totally unmanned and looked deserted. There's not a whole lot out here!

Since there aren't many restaurants around here, we've been dining in our cabin. They have wonderful cheese here! I think it's because the cows here get to roam around and eat grass without fertilizer and pesticides. Wonderful breads, too. They make a type of heavy brown bread that's a little sweet, and cooked in the ground with geothermal heat. YUM.

Tomorrow we're leaving the southeast and heading north, around the island. It looks like at least 6 hours of driving. Fingers crossed I haven't totally miscalculated! And no road closings, please! No sheep jams (lots-o-sheep here). Lots-o-sheep and they get on the road, and hang around right by the edge of the road (no shoulder on the 'highway/ring road' that goes all the way around).

That's all for now! Later

Notes
Amphibious boat tours – I believe you can pay for your tickets in advance, but you still have to go to the ticket counter when you arrive and get a time slot. We were there before they opened, first in line, and even though the first boat was at 09:00, our tickets were for 09:40. Tour groups were ahead of us. I don't know if there's any way to get a specific time. I think you CAN reserve on the zodiac tours, which are probably more interesting because they blast over to the glacier which is way on the other side of the big lake, but kids have to be over 12, I think. You can see a lot of the same stuff you see from the boat, just from the shore of the lake, so if you don't get to take the boat, it's not such a biggy. Bathrooms there often had long queues, there's a café and gift shop.

Ingolfshofi tractor tour – There are 2 roads near each other that look like they might be the way to the meeting shack. It's not the one that goes to a tiny airport.  The correct road has a few signs and is pretty obvious (especially if you've just driven on the road to the airport). There was an outhouse potty and small parking lot next to the shack. The trailor you ride in isn't covered so prepare for whatever weather! That was the one time we wore our rain pants (but then it stopped raining and the weather was fine). The trailor had limited seating and most people stood up. There were other kids, older people and people with babies on our trip. Anyone can do it, as long as you can walk up a sandy hill.  Puffins are only there for a few months in the summer (I think). There were other birds in residence there as well, but I was really only interested in puffins so I wasn't paying much attention to the others. 

Grocery stores – If you plan to spend a few days around Skaftafell, keep in mind there are no grocery stores nearby. To the south the closest is in Kirkjubaeklaustur (I didn't spell check that, so if I got it right, I deserve a prize.  ). To the north it's in Hofn. You can either dine at your hotel for every meal, eat at the national park café (although I don't know what their hours are), bring your own food or be hungry. 

Potties – We had no problem finding facilities when we needed them throughout our trip. Apparently this isn't the case for all tourists, as there have been many stories in the news lately about tourists pooping in graveyards, behind schools, etc. They really don't like that. Some potties cost 200 ISK, most were free, some cost for adults but were free for kids. Have some 100 ISK coins just in case.

Disclaimer – I should've said this first thing. It seems that things in Iceland related to tourists/tourism change often. So, everything I tell you may be obsolete already. ar ar Also, this was my first and only time to Iceland and while I read loads, and planned for a year, I'm no expert.
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Old Jul 25th, 2015, 08:16 PM
  #28  
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some useful websites

weather, road conditions
http://www.vegagerdin.is/english

http://en.vedur.is/

maps
http://en.ja.is/kort/?type=map

NEWS
http://www.mbl.is/english/

http://grapevine.is/news/

SHOPPING

liquor store map and info
http://www.vinbudin.is/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-3/

duty free
http://www.dutyfree.is/en#

grocery store map
http://www.iheartreykjavik.net/2013/...ng-in-iceland/
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 06:19 AM
  #29  
 
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"Go for it Dickie"

It's strange with Iceland. It seemed to be the "in" place prior to the recession. We didn't make it and since then in Britain, Iceland seems to be a little "been there done that".

We have had two incredibly enjoyable trips to both Norway and Sweden in the past two years. Enjoyable for very different reasons. Yes, the Aurora will be an attraction but it will difficult to best the many shows we have seen in Northern Norway.

We've revisited the idea of Iceland and in view of the fact that we have a geography mad 10 year old, it just looks ideal.

It also seems to have benefited from huge capital investment funded on the never, never before 2008.

Tally

This amount of detail will be hugely helpful to us. Our current knowledge of Iceland is very limited. I'm going to read it all this afternoon and book the flights tonight, will post later with questions if you don't mind.

Have a free afternoon as our "summer" weather has caused the latest round of The America's Cup to be cancelled. If this is summer goodness knows what winter will bring in Scotland.

Thanks again.
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 06:34 AM
  #30  
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You're welcome! Glad I can help! I had a hard time getting started on planning. There is SOOOOOO much to see and do, it can be hard to choose and make a plan. Like, around the ring road, or just Reykjavik and south (or west)? Highlands or not? What to focus on? I tried to plan a trip that all three of us would enjoy and wouldn't be too tiring for the smaller one, and included a bit of everything. Our son LOVED it, and so did we.
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 07:28 AM
  #31  
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Day 6 - Fri, July 3 Skaftafell to Myvatn (north)
Drove from Hof (near Skaftafell) to Myvatn with a detour to Borgarfjordur Eystri to see puffins.
overnight: Dimmuborgir guesthouse, Myvatn

Lots-o-driving today! We left our groovy little cabin by Skaftafell national park at 07:30 and headed northeast. We stopped for gas a few times, took a short cut over the mountains (road 939 from Djupivogur up towards Egilsstadir), saw a herd of reindeer, lots of waterfalls and glacier tongues, then took a detour to Borgarfjordur Eystri on the northeast coast. To see puffins! Around the little bay is the old harbor and on one side is a rocky outcrop where puffins nest. They've built a staircase up around the outcrop so you can get pretty close to some puffins, maybe 10-15'. It was so nifty getting to watch them again!

But it was freezing. Up at the top we could see down into a little chasm and both sides were lined with hundreds of puffins. Puffins!

Back in the car and through the little town where we saw the grassiest house ever. Looked like it needed a good mowing. And the elf rock. A big chunk of rock where elves live. We took a different road back to highway 1, but still had to do the slightly scary mountain crossing on a narrow dirt road with no guard rails and major drop offs, in the fog. At least on the way back it wasn't raining like it had been on the way over. Passed a big boulder on which someone had painted a big smiley face.  The dirt roads from there back to the 'highway' were fine. The rest of the drive up to Myvatn in the north was across Mars like terrain. Lots of black lava rocks and not much else.

We arrived at Reykjalid, the little town by the lake, around 5:30 and stopped for gas and to wash the car. Most gas stations have an area with hoses for washing cars for free. And our car was filthy! We can confirm why this area is called Midge Lake (that's the translation of Myvatn). If you stand still for too long, little black flies try to examine your face. But they don't bite, just are annoying. We are now at our next groovy cabin, right on the lake in a lava field. There's a massive black crater just across the road, an extinct volcano, that we may climb tomorrow (with our bug nets on!). Loads of cool stuff to do here. We're staying at the Dimmuborgir Guesthouse. woo hoo!! later!

Notes
Borgarfjordur Eystri - If we had had more time, it would've been nice to spend the night in Borgarfjordur Eystri. It's a really cute tiny town in a very pretty setting. If you're going to Myvatn from there, you don't have to go back through Egilsstadir, but take 944 to 927 back to the ring road (check a map). I don't recall if it was paved, but it was a good road, mostly flat, no problem at all.

Puffins – Here's a website about that area. It's not always open, so check before going. Great puffin viewing there!!
http://www.nat.is/travelguideeng/plofin_hafnarholmi.htm

midges – If you're going in the summer, take a bug net to wear over your head, just in incase. I really don't like bugs and was concerned they'd ruin our stay there, but they weren't that big of a deal.

Midges and our cabin – When we arrived there were quite a few on the windows, attracted to the light. We found that if we closed the blinds during the day, they weren't on the windows when we got back. In the cabin they didn't bother us at all, just hung out on the windows.
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 08:53 AM
  #32  
 
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It's strange with Iceland. It seemed to be the "in" place prior to the recession. We didn't make it and since then in Britain, Iceland seems to be a little "been there done that". >>

Dickie - we did make it then and have not so far been back so i suppose that we fit into your description! We did enjoy it though, and I would quite like to go back to see the bits we missed i.e. the north and east. and if you want to find out how not to see Iceland, read my TR!

Tally - I'm really enjoying your TR, nice to see that you didn't repeat our errors, though I am pleased to say that we didn't come across winds like the ones you describe which sound quite scary.
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Old Jul 27th, 2015, 06:29 PM
  #33  
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Day 7 - Sat, July 4 Myvatn
Dimmuborgir lava field
hiked up Hverfjall (the big crater)
Hverir geothermal area
Krafla - power plant visitors center, Viti
Myvatn Nature Baths
dinner at Vogafjos (cowshed café)
overnight: Dimmuborgir guesthouse, Myvatn

Hey! Today we were up early and had breakfast at 07:30 in the reception building. The breakfast room is pretty cool: glass all around with a view of the lake and lava fields. Breakfast was standard Euro stuff like
fresh bread, cheese, yogurt (Icelandic yogurt called Skyr which is like Greek yogurt but fluffier), coldcuts and smoked fish. Yum!

After breakfast we piled in the car for a short drive across the way to the Dimmuborgir lava field. Lots of cool black lava formations with trails winding around. Before we got there, the midges weren't that bad really. We saw a few, but we walked to the hotel reception and they weren't bad at all. The hotel gal said they like sunny, still days, and it happened to be cloudy and cool. It wasn't that much different when we arrived at the lava field for our little hike, but mein Gott, there were zillions of midges! We are at Myvatn, Midge Lake, after all. X and I put on our bug nets over our baseball caps and aside from seeing everything with a green tint, we were fine. It was even sorta amusing watching the bugs buzz around. They don't seem to bite, sting or even land on us. They just desperately want to get up our noses, in our ears and eyes. Ha! Denied! Except for Y. He didn't put on his bug net for a while. We wandered through the lava formations, found a couple of tube caves, had good views of the big caldera crater nearby, but the most entertaining was watching Y without his bug net. ar ar He finally conceded and put his on as well. They were everywhere, but we walked into an area where they were so thick we could barely see through them. That was trippy. They still didn't do anything to us but it's weird to walk through a crazy swarm
of flying bugs!

Afterwards we drove back to the cabin for a potty break. There's a cafe there with pay toilets that are 200 kroner. 600 for the 3 of us is about $4.50. yikes! Most potties are free, and we've seen some for 100 ISK, and some that charge but let kids go free. They're free at
gas stations.

Next we hiked up Hverfjall crater. It looks pretty ominous; it's dark gray and BIG. We followed the 'easy' trail up to the top. Not as many midges along the way, but I kept my bug net handy. From the top you can see down into the old caldera which is the same as the rest of it, and dark gray/black rock. Very nifty.

Stopped at the N1 gas station, the center of the town's activity apparently, where there's also a grocery store and soft serve ice cream! X and I had some and it was dee-lish. It was about $6 for a dipped cone and a cup with caramel sauce.

Just down the road is Krafla, a geothermal/volcanic area. There's a geothermal power plant there with a visitors center (open every day, free coffee and bathrooms).

We followed the paved road to the last parking lot to see Viti, a caldera with a blue lake in it. I thought we had to hike to it but we parked, walked 20 meters and there was the view into the caldera. That was handy. We stomped around a bit, enjoyed the cool views, then piled back in the car.

Oh hey, it wasn't cold today. It was sunny with a few clouds and at least 70. I had read, more than once, not to pack shorts thinking it would be warm enough to wear them, because it wouldn't. Today we could've worn shorts.

Next up: Myvatn Nature Baths. Have you heard of the Blue Lagoon? This is the north's version. We got discount tickets from our hotel so it was about $50 for the 3 of us, and X got in free. The pools are fed with runoff
from the geothermal power plant. The water comes from 2500m underground and is full of silica, minerals and whatever lives in water 2500m underground. We braved the naked shower thing again but this time was a little disappointing for me. I got my own stall! No signs about which body parts you're supposed to wash, no shower police (in any of the pools we've been to so far) and no being shamed into washing better. ar ar That is what I expected from the Iceland pools based on everything I read. There are 2 pools and lava rocks all around, a few big rocks in the middle, one long hot tub, saunas and that's it. It was nice to sit in the water for a while but got a bit boring for the young one in our group and even for us. No noodles to float on and not enough different pools to make it really really interesting. It's uphill from lava fields so it's pretty nifty to sit in the pool and look across it, so that it looks like an infinity pool. And no midges there!

We left around 5:00 and went to the Vogafjos cafe, or Cowshed cafe, not too far from our cabin. It's a real farm, with a real cowshed, attached to a nice little restaurant. The café has tables with views of the lava field and lake, or into the cowshed. We took the latter. No cows when we sat down but were told they would be milking soon. What better to stare at during dinner than cows? We had a great dinner! Y had a sampler with local smoked arctic char from the lake, geysir bread (hearty rye baked in the ground near hot springs), an omelette made from eggs and cheese from the farm, salad, skyr and probably some other stuff. I had pan fried arctic char (YUM!) and a potato cake and salad. X had skyr and some of all the stuff we had. With a beer, coffee and piece of chocolate cake it was about $90. It was fabulous! And no midges in the cafe even though the door was wide open. They finally started milking so we had front row seats (there was just a window between us and the milk room). That was amusing. After dinner, we went in the cow shed where X bonded with the cows. 

Back to our little cabin where X played with the resident dog, Valur. This cabin is a bit bigger than the others, but the bathroom is so tiny you can hardly bend over the tiny sink.

That's it for today! We're still here tomorrow, so plan to see more stuff in this area. So far, great trip!

later!

I forgot a couple of things yesterday. We went to Hverir, a geothermal field. It's just east of town on the ring road (hwy 1, the only road that goes around Iceland). It's surrounded by brownish barren hills. You can't miss it; there's a massive amount of steam coming up and too many tour buses parked in a tiny parking lot. There's a little platform, and a path through the area. The hot spots are roped off. There are bubbling mud pots, steam vents and ground that generally looks unstable. Nifty! And stinky!! Sulfur!

Speaking of stinky, I totally forgot to mention the tap water here. Everywhere else we've been the tap water has been beautifully sparkling clean and tasty. Like a commercial for Evian. Here, not so much.
Looks ok, but egads it stinks. The hot water is worse. Hold your nose while you take a shower! The cold water isn't quite as stinky but first thing in the morning, the first drink, tastes horrible. I had read that the water in the Nature Baths would tarnish jewelry but the tap water here does it as well. My silver ring is now black, and my 18K gold rings are looking a little dark.

Did I mention the tiny shower and bathroom?? I think so, but I have to say, taking a shower is my least favorite part of the day. The shower in our cabin is tiny and has a curtain, there's a small ledge around the bottom (very lame attempt at containing the shower runoff), the water stinks and don't drop the soap! If you bend over you're likely to bump your behind on the hot water pipe that traverses the shower wall (which happens to just be the wood wall of the cabin).

That's all for now! Off to explore again today. It's beautiful and sunny and probably will be another shorts weather kinda day. later!

Notes
Krafla - I was quite confused about Krafla before our trip. It's pretty simple though. There's a big post that says KRAFLA next to the road you take off the ring road. First you get to the power plant and attached visitors center on the left. Nice place to stop and read about the area. Follow the paved road uphill and the first parking lot on the left is for Leirhnjukur. There are bathrooms, and a loop trail that I would guess is about 2 miles (relatively flat) through the lava fields from 1975-1984. Very cool and worth the time. Continue further on the paved road and the next parking lot is for Viti, the lake filled crater. You can park right next to it and take a quick look, or walk around the top, some or all the way. I think the paved road ends there. I don't know if there is anything else to see there, but these are the obvious attractions.

Hverir – I was also confused about this. I saw 'namafjall' and 'namaskard' alongside 'hverir' when I was reading about the area, and really couldn't grasp what was what. Hverir is the geothermal area, there's a sign on the ring road for Hverir, there's a parking lot, viewing platform (to watch the mud pots from), and area to roam around (but no bathrooms). I don't know what namaskard and namafjall refer to (maybe the hill behind the area? Or the pass?). I do know that the sign from the ring road says 'Hverir'.
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Old Jul 27th, 2015, 06:38 PM
  #34  
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Join Date: Jun 2007
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Day 8 - Sun, July 5 Myvtan
Dettifoss
Krafla - Leirhnjukur lava field (about a 2 mile walk through the area)
Grjótagjá
drove around the lake
dinner from Daddi's pizza
overnight: Dimmuborgir guesthouse, Myvatn

Today wasn't a shorts day after all, and was even a 2 coat day at some times (fleece jacket and wind breaker/rain coat) but it didn't rain on us at all. We started by driving 20 miles or so to Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall (I think). It was a paved road the whole way, a big parking lot, potties and a half mile walk to the falls on a well marked dirt trail. The falls were very similar to Gullfoss that we saw on day 2 - BIG. The river is pretty wide for around here and the falls are
big and loud. We followed the path upstream for a bit to another waterfall called Selfoss. Not as big but still pretty nifty.

Back in the car and towards town, and up to Krafla again, just east of town. We stopped again at the visitors center then up to Leirhnjukur, the other tourist worthy site (the other being the Viti crater that we saw yesterday). We parked and followed the trail, not really sure what we
were going to see. It was actually the area of a lava flow from 1975-1984. The trail looped through the area, past lava glops and rocks, steaming hillsides, blue-white pools, mysterious holes in the ground and lots of steam. Cool!! We even got to trek through a snow covered field next
to a black lava flow. The trail was probably a couple of miles and it was pretty chilly and windy. Oh yeah, here's something pretty funky: there's a shower (no stall, just a shower that constantly runs) on the road into Krafla. It looks quite odd. I asked about it and it's an old borehole they made into a shower just to be funny.

Onward! We stopped at a cave, Grjotlasdjkf something. We went in at 2 different places and it was really neat. There was a shallow pool of clear water at the bottom and big rocks piled all around, all in the cave.

Next up we stopped for ice cream at the gas station/grocery store, then drove around the lake. There aren't a lot of trees blocking the view so we could see the area quite well. The lake is apparently really shallow and there are several pseudo craters around, where the lava flowed over water and the water boiled then blew out the top. We stopped for takey outy pizza at Daddi's pizza, a tiny little restaurant. We got a 16" (interesting since they use the metric system here) that was half cheese and olives and half their special with smoked trout, pine nuts and and some kind of soft cheese. Yum! It was about $30 for just the pizza.

Back to our cabin for our last night here, before heading to Akureyri, the 2nd largest town in Iceland. It's just 60 miles west of here.

A few interesting things... there are no shoulders on hwy 1. There are a few pulloff points, but no shoulders. All of the bridges we've crossed lately are one lane. Sheep are everywhere! There are fences along the hwy and sheep on both sides. And sheep sleeping on the side of the hwy. No tipping here! AT least we don't have to pay $30 for a pizza AND tip. ar ar They just don't tip here. The Icelanders that we've dealt with all speak perfect English, are friendly enough and polite. We saw a sign in a bathroom today that asked people to not wash their shoes in the toilet. ar ar ar

Oh yeah, and no midges today! We saw a few here and there but none that bothered us. We noticed that the people walking along by the lake had bug nets on, so maybe it just depends where you are.

Notes
Dettifoss – We drove there on road 862 on the west side of the falls.
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Old Jul 27th, 2015, 07:32 PM
  #35  
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Day 9 - Mon, July 6 Myvatn to Akureyri
Godafoss
Laufas turf house museum
Akureyri - Brynja ice cream, botanical gardens, poked around town
overnight: Saeluhus

I woke up last night at 01:50 and looked outside and it was dusk. Or dawn. Not sure. It is not getting dark ever while we're here. We brought eye masks and use them some but we manage to sleep just fine every night.

No midges this morning!

This morning we got up and had our last nice breakfast at the Dimmuborgir Guesthouse. The people that run it are really nice and the guy looks just like Enrique Iglesias. Checked out and piled in the car and headed west.

First stop: Godafoss waterfall. It's a big waterfall with several branches and looks very cool. There's a little gift shop/café so we stepped in and I picked out 5 post cards, asked for 4 stamps to the US, and got my bill and it was about $15! Dang!! Granted it's a tourist stop, but the postcards were 200 ISK each, so about $1.60 each! These are the same cheapy postcards you get all over the world. Stamps were 250 ISK each. Yikes! Note to self: do not assume postcards are cheap!

That was only 30 minutes or saw from Myvatn. Back in the car and to the Eyjafjordur (?) a long fjord with the town of Akureyri at the inside end. We headed up the coast away from town to a turf house museum called Laufas. What a cool place! The old house had several rooms, all with steep pointed roofs covered with turf (sod and grass). The gals working there were super friendly and told us all about it. Very interesting.

BTW, it was not shorts weather again. Overcast and cool, but no rain. Later it cleared up but was still cool.

As we were driving to our hotel we passed a locally famous ice cream place called Brynja and stopped in. They have soft serve in vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and licorice. Icelanders love licorice apparently. Half the candy bars we've seen are chocolate covered licorice. And they have like a million toppings. We had vanilla with a hard chocolate shell and candied nuts, chocolate ice cream with white and dark chocolate hard shell (the kind that gets hard after it's poured on) and caramel choc bits and vanilla with caramel shell and choc crispy bits. Yum! It was about $5 each, I think.

Back in the car and on to our hotel, the Saeluhus, up the hill from town. We have a small one room apartment with a kitchenette, dining area and balcony and best of all, a hot tub on the balcony. This place looks like an Ikea store. It's all very modern and Euro and has a lot more space than the last few places. And yay, a slightly bigger shower with a fold out door, so no ocean on the floor everyday! The balcony looks out at a hill with trees (!) and the fjord beyond, and the other coast beyond that. Very nice. The hot tub doesn't have jets, it just fills from the bottom from a local hot spring. It continuously fills and the overflow drains off so it stays nice and hot. When you turn it off, it stops filling and just drains from the bottom. Love it!!

Dumped our stuff then walked to the town center, past the church. It looks like it's made from cement blocks, but is still really nice. They have a model ship hanging from the ceiling and the usual stained glass windows and big organ, but not much else. Not over the top ornate by any means.

We ambled down the pedestrian shopping street and were a bit surprised at how little was there. A cruise ship had pulled in earlier and the place was crawling with tourists from a Disney ship. Oh yeah, on the way down into town we stumbled upon the botanical gardens and that was really neat. Lots of pretty flowers! Wandered back through on the way up, back to our room, dined in on yummy local bread, cheese, blueberries, smoked trout, then sat in the hot tub until we couldn't take it anymore. That's it!

Tomorrow we may explore the area. later!
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Old Jul 28th, 2015, 01:53 AM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 1,455
Thanks Ann, I will look it up when have time to research this trip.

Hopefully today, need to book the flights as they are a good price.

Have you been to Norway? The Lofotens were jaw dropping and that was in dank, misty weather. Goodness what they look like in a clear, blue winter sky.
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Old Jul 28th, 2015, 02:56 AM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 53,120
All of the bridges we've crossed lately are one lane. >>

don't you just love the "blind bridges"? I think that Iceland was the most challenging place to drive, apart from NZ.

anyway, Tally, thanks for "showing" me the part of Iceland that we missed.

Dickie - we've never made it to Norway. I think that DH would enjoy a "Hurtigruten" trip, but I am no sailor so I haven't mentioned them to him!
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Old Jul 28th, 2015, 06:15 AM
  #38  
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Posts: 225
The bridges are worth mentioning again. One lane, sometimes quite long. If someone is on the bridge, you pull over and wait before crossing. (duh) You have to take turns.

They drive on the right, just fyi.
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Old Jul 28th, 2015, 06:34 AM
  #39  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 53,120
The bridges are worth mentioning again. One lane, sometimes quite long. If someone is on the bridge, you pull over and wait before crossing. (duh) You have to take turns. >>

good plan, except on the blind ones [can't remember what the sign says but we got good at spotting them] - they are called that because you can't see the other end and therefore don't know until you are half-way across or more whether someone else is also crossing the bridge but in the opposite direction.

I can remember this happening a few times, what I can't remember is what we did about it!!!
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Old Jul 28th, 2015, 07:22 AM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 6,126
Great report OP - enjoying it a lot
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