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01 July 2011

Crossing Over Icelandic Volcanoes

Day 32: Tuesday, 21 June 2011
It was around 10am when I woke up. A full night's rest, finally! It took a while for us to get ready, make breakfast from our leftovers, and to look up hostels online, so we didn't leave Seyðisfjörður until nearly 1pm. We stopped at the harbor and took in the scenery (this port was a US base during WWII and is the port for ferries arriving weekly from Denmark).

We drove back over the mountains, stopping in Egilsstaðir for food and continued on the ring road toward Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Iceland. I managed to sleep for a few minutes, waking up just before we stopped to take in a spectacular view of the desolate interior, all deserted brown rocks with towering snow-capped mountains in the distance. We decided to take a detour to see Kefla, an active volcano near Myvatn. We went all the way to Reykjahith, where we stopped for petrol. There were a lot of hot springs and geothermal activity in the area. We went to the hot springs, this area's Blue Lagoon, but it was too expensive for us to consider visiting. We went to Namafjall, a mountain overlooking the hot springs at Hverir.

We drove up a gravel road intended only for 4x4 vehicles, then walked to the top of one of the peaks. The wind was blowing, which made it very cold, and the steam fissures emitted a foul stench of sulfur that made it very difficult to breathe comfortably. We rushed back into the car and drove down to Hverir, the bubbling mud springs below, which smelled even worse of sulfur. But it was very fascinating: There were bubbling pools of mud and steam vents blasting hot steam into the air. The steam clouds were blown sideways by the steady wind.

Then, we went to Krafla, the active volcano. It was cold and very windy. We went up to the Viti crater and walked around it; I was trying my best to stay warm, wearing a sweater and my thin windbreaker, which didn't help very much.

Dettifoss was amazing. From our parking lot, we walked down 10 minutes to where you could actually see the waterfall, and once you get close to it, you realize just how powerful it is. The water shot out like a jet from the bottom, pummeling all the rocks nearby with the full force of the river. There were lots of jagged rocks all along the edge of the waterfall, and I had an enjoyable time climbing over the rocks to get as close as possible to the edge.

We continued driving, witnessing a couple of wild horses chasing each other, and honking at many groups of sheep that had wandered onto the road. We continued over the Thane? peninsula, taking in the amazing view of the northern ocean (Arctic Ocean already?) and through Husavik, where we took some pictures in front of the Phallological museum, stopping randomly at an unexpected hot spring (which wasn't so hot but was so pretty) and to our hostel.

We stayed in a hostel in the middle of the Icelandic countryside (again), and we were lucky to get the HI discount even though we weren't members (we asked for membership but they didn't have cards for us). We slept in a 6-bed basement with a foosball table, sofa chairs, and an office desk! We made another semi-elaborate dinner of red cabbage on toast with liver spread, and pasta with hot dogs. Jurate, Nerijus, and I shared drinks as the sky stayed bright through 1am. (Today was the solstice, the longest day of the year.)

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