Sunday, October 21, 2012

Iceland {Part IV}

Day 7:
  • Free breakfast brew at the Kaldi brewery
  • Drive through the Northern fjords 
  • Stay with some locals in a real Icelandic farmhouse
Fun Fact:
  • Iceland had a period of prohibition, beginning in 1915. Beer was banned in Iceland from 1915-1989, even though liquor was made legal again after 1935! 


our busy brew master and tour guide

stopped in Siglufjordur, a small fishing town with about 1200 residents

saw these guys

and grabbed a coffee and some lunch

C wanted to try driving across this narrow spit...

...but we only made it about halfway before turning back

stopped here briefly, but decided to skip a swim and press on

quick visit to Holar to see a church built in 1106, where we were treated to some hymns sung by a German tourguide

hipster horse

stopped here and enjoyed a lap pool, kiddie pool, 2 water slides, 2 hot tubs, and a shower for about$4 

Instead of finding a camping spot for the night we decided we would try a farmhouse accommodation. Along the main road blue signs (as seen below) mark the name and location of a family farm. The name on the sign is usually that of the original owner. Beneath the name are a series of symbols indicating what services the family is willing to offer to passersby, be it food, shower, bed, telephone, etc. 

We pulled off at a random farmhouse that we could see from the road and knocked on the door. A man eventually answered and we stumbled through greetings with broken English on his side and sparse Icelandic on ours. He understood that we were interested in renting a room or two for the night and called his wife in for support. Her English was much better and she served as a translator for all of us. We ended up chatting in the entryway of their home for half and hour or so (thanks entirely to C's sociability - I get awkward and embarrassed with language barriers, but he shines). We all enjoyed our little cross-cultural exchange and were thrilled to spend the night in their cabin up the road.

front door

view of the family's house and farm from the cabin

Day 8:
  • Explore up the hill behind the cabin
  • Get on the road, heading towards Isafjordur where we will plan our trip to Hornstrandir
  • Brief stop in the town of Holmavik to see the Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft
  • Camp in Bolungarvik
 Fun fact:

  • Iceland's naming system is patronymic, which is based on first name lineage, not surnames. So, a man named Aron Mikaelsson would have a son named Jon Aronsson and a daughter Anna Aronsdottir (signifying that Jon is Aron's son and Anna is Aron's daughter)!

this friendly guy followed us on our morning walk behind the cabin

abandoned hydroelectric operation

on the road again



We made it to Isafjordur just as the information center was closing, but the two employees stayed to help us get ready for the trip we were hoping to make the next day. We decided on a route and itinerary, bought a detailed map and round-trip boat tickets, and let the captain know to expect us the next morning at 0730. We had stocked up on food earlier in Holmavik, so we pushed on to the next town, Bolungarvik, where we would camp and catch the boat in the morning.

Up next: backpacking the Northernmost penninsula, Hornstrandir.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Iceland {Part III}

Day 5: 
  • Take a warm morning soak to thaw us after a cold night in the highlands
  • Drive through the interior toward Dettifoss, Selfoss, Hafragilsfoss, and Krafla geothermal area
  • Stop when the mood strikes
Fun facts:
  • Very few roads are paved - even the ring road is gravelly in some places - and F roads are marked, warning drivers that only 4WD vehicles can take 'em!
  • More than 85% of homes and buildings use geothermal energy as their only heat source! 
Laugarfell - free hot pots and cheap showers

view of Snaefell Mtn

F Roads

gas in the middle of nowhere

Saenautasel - an old sod homestead that is now a museum and small farm

now there's a car for the F roads

Dettifoss. Hypnotizing. My favorite foss, by far.

so much power flowing through this otherwise barren, desolate landscape

Selfoss, a 1-mile hike above Dettifoss

campsite downstream from a geothermal plant - the creek here was lukewarm

Day 6:
  • Explore geothermal areas full of steam, calderas and lava beds
  • Check out Lake Myvatn
  • Get up to Akureyri and explore the city
Fun Facts (pertinent to the pictures ahead):
  • Pseudocraters (like those at Lake Myvatn) look like volcanic craters, but were not caused by magma eruption. They occur when hot lava flows over ground that contains water, causing the water to rapidly steam and explode up through the lava layer! There are also pseudocraters on Mars!
  • Lava pillars at Dimmuborgir were similarly formed. As hot lava passed over this marshy area the marsh water boiled, causing the steam vapor to rise up through the lava and form tall pillars and arches!
  • Fell or Fjall? According to our guide book the crater was named Hverfell originally, but has been called Hverfjall for the last 150 years. Recently, a local man took the issue to court to have the name changed back, and won! The suffix -fell means small hill and -fjall means mountain!

Krafla Geothermal Power Station - in operation since 1977

Krafla caldera

Leirhnjukur lava field formed during eruptions between 1975-1984


Hverir geothermal fields, just down the road from Krafla

bubbling mud cauldron

steam vents, sulphur deposits


approaching Hverfell crater

rim is 1km in diameter

Dimmuborgur, home of the Yule Lads (naughty Christmas trolls) and hardened lava pillars

lunch spot on Lake Myvatn


quick stop at Godafoss

drove on to Akureyri, population 18,000

wandered around this quaint college town

found free wifi, ate a real meal...

...and set up camp a few miles outside of town.