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01 July 2011

West Fjords Day 2: More Cool Encounters and Puffins!

Day 35: Friday, 24 June 2011

Georg left at 8am to go to work, and we were up shortly thereafter. Something was up with my electric plug so I borrowed Jurate's to charge my camera. With a lot to see and do, we wanted to get moving a little earlier. So we finished our cereal quickly and left by 10am. Our first stop was a hidden hot bath in a small town somewhere in this part of the west fjords. Georg had told us how to get there, and when we arrived we were the only ones there. It was our little secret… almost. One older man appeared and settled in to one of the pools. But whatever - it felt so good to just sit in hot (40-45°C / 105-115° F) water, with the sea on one side and isolated mountains on the other side.

After bathing in the hot pots, my body continued to feel warm and comfortable - I could start every day like this! We drove west, around more fjords and discovering an abandoned iron ship from around 1910.

We drove on and found a small café with a US Navy airplane disassembled outside (and also a mock viking ship). The road was gravel most of the way, and our car picked up even more dirt. The car is covered in a solid layer of brown dirt.

We continued to Látrabjarg, a lighthouse sitting on a cliff which is the westernmost point in Europe.

Driving West Fjords

Day 34: Thursday, 23 June 2011

We woke up in Blönduós at Christina's apartment. Christina had to go to work and left as I was showering. After making breakfast and getting ready, it was nearly 11:00. We had an 8 hour drive ahead of us, so we had to get moving. We drove toward the west fjords, through more spectacular scenery. We drove through Brú and turned north toward Hólmavík. This part of the drive took about 2 hours. My guidebook mentioned a restaurant in Hólmavík that served puffin meat, and we were all interested in trying some. We went to the restaurant, Café Riis, only to find that puffin was not in season yet, so we settled for a hamburger and some salad bar food that cost ISK 1600. The drive continued, and the scenery continued to change every few minutes.

I fell asleep for nearly an hour, thanks to eating so much food (and the road was smooth). I woke up as we pulled into a gas station in Reykjanes, but the self-service pump was not accepting our credit cards, so we decided to risk it and drive on with our gas level at about 30%. The next petrol station was not for another 130km, and our car had enough fuel to last just about that long. So instead of worrying, I enjoyed the drive as we wound in and around several deep fjords carved into glaciated 500m-tall mountains with waterfalls cascading down every kilometer or less. It was, yet again, an unreal landscape. By this point, I had started "getting used to" the ever-changing spectacular landscapes everywhere in Iceland. Anyway, we made it to the petrol station and filled up the tank with ISK 12 000.

Myvatn Lake - Another Amazing Corner of Iceland

Day 33: Wednesday, 22 June 2011

I woke up after everyone else, because I had stayed up late sending couchsurfing requests - this actually was very fortuitous, because one host had accepted my request by the time I woke up! Jurate and Nerijus had prepared some breakfast of pasta and leftovers from dinner, while Jared had his own small snack. I turned on the TV to find that there were only 3 stations, and they were all playing the same thing, a kind of scrolling news feed.

We left the hostel around 10:30am, and it was cold outside. Our car was the dirtiest there. We drove to Myvatn lake and stopped at the N1 station for Jared to get a full breakfast. Then, onward: There was a sign to a farm named Björk, where we of course stopped for pictures; I scraped the palm of my right hand as I hung from the sign. Then we did a hike (the Church Circle) around some surreal lava formations at Dimmuborgir.

It was very cool, and we were able to climb into a few caves in the rock. We then realized how little time we had (because we had to be in Akureyri by 5pm for Jared to catch his bus), so we rushed to the next stop, a small hike next to a farm. There were odd lava columns next to pleasant ponds filled with birds and midges. We hurried onward to the pseudo-craters of southern Myvatn lake, which were relatively unimpressive (relative to everything else that we've seen in Iceland).

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.