This trip, I did something different. Instead of starting another ill-fated travel journal, I posted photos on Instagram. Definitely doing this style of photojournalism again. Take a scroll (get it?) through and re-live our trip.
Well, it's 4:00am. The wind woke us, and even with earplugs it's pretty hard to sleep when the tent walls are bashing you in the head. So, we decided to pack up and just drive to our first stop of Day 3. Have you ever tried to dismantle a tent in 35km winds? It tries to run away from you, and nearly succeeds. Nevertheless, we leave Stokkseyri with our bellies full of last night's langoustine (prawn/lobster hybrid) dinner at award-winning Fjörubordid, some pics of the windswept landscape and knitted chairs (they get cold, too), not to mention the free bottles of stove fuel left by another camper. We left not a moment too soon: as soon as we drove away, it started raining. Thank goodness we avoided a wet tent. This is where many of you start thinking, "That's what you get for camping in Iceland." Too right. An adventure.
It's a 20 minute walk to Seljavallalaug ("laug" means "pool"). It was gusty, with driving rain. I learned that my raincoat was not entirely rainproof. C'mon, #HellyHansen! However. When Iceland's oldest manmade pool (est. 1923) beckons at the back of a verdant valley, its lush landscape a fluorescent chartreuse against the soot-black basalt formations, rain matters little. Did I mention the pool was 40 degrees Celsius? Delightful. #iceland #hotspring #MyStopover #travel
I admit, the main attraction in Skogar is the waterfall, but I found the full pasture chorus of sheep bleating their praises of the fine fescues equally charming. In addition, Hotel Skogar has an Artic charr dish that hit the spot. Half a fish and a pile of garlic mashed potatoes. In light of the weather, we opted for a hostel in Vik tonight--from which I am now writing this. There are shared cooking facilities, and just as I was about to bust out our freeze-dried 5 minute wonders, a French tour guide offered us his group's leftover rice and fresh fish. We said yes, and added a package of instant palak paneer. Side note: our voltage converter doesn't seem to work, so we've only been able to charge our phone, used constantly for Instagram and GPS, in the brief increments we drive via dashboard USB port. Having found a communal plug here, this may be the first night we get a full charge. Would be nice to relax battery-monitoring duties. #iceland #travel #waterfall
Y'know those restored historical buildings that look neat on the inside, but they don't let anyone in? Sel was different. We peeked in the windows, saw it was originally furnished, and walked around to the front--to my astonishment, the door was latched but not locked. Amazing! To walk through doorways my size, to find the secret passageway under the stairs that links the barn (with stalls and built-in mangers still standing) to the house, to find a soup pot large enough for two turkeys on the stove-- all in a house that was built in 1902 from driftwood, carried far from shore, across a lava desert and up a mountainside. My highlight of the day. #vatnajokull #iceland #farming
Driving towards the Eastfjords today. Capturing the sights on camera was a lot harder, with the sun overexposing much of the vistas we were pointing at. However, this picture is just one of the many fjords along the coastline, with impossibly high peaks--some stacked with sedimentary layers like a haphazardly terraced Jenga tower--some with alarmingly-pitched scree and gravel slopes that ended right at the side of the road--still others that careened around sudden gulches and fissures with blasting waterfalls draining the glaciers above. This is the idyllic countryside, with farms that have waterfalls literally in their backyards, sheep on the front porch and expansive fishing waters across the road. #iceland #nature
Seydisfjordur: a Mecca for artists. A lagoon sheltered by 1,000+ft hills from the wind. An 1848 herring village and WWII base (an oil tanker sunken by German bombers is a popular dive spot). Lighting was perfect as we explored the little alleys peppered with bright, historic little homes with lace curtains, original hardware and artistic crafts. #Iceland #picoftheday #nofilter
It was lovely meeting you, Seydisfjordur's elementary school and village square. Thanks for the Jerusalem artichoke soup (amazing), the salmon roe & arugula pizza, public pool with the best panoramic view, and Kyle's new wool toque. I'm only sad we couldn't stay longer, at least to have the local beer and a reindeer steak. Will definitely come back someday. #Iceland #MyStopover #eastfjords
Álfaborg, palace of Iceland's elf queen Borgahildur. Iceland has a healthy reverence for the huldufólk (hidden people), with many beautiful stories. I chatted with the owner of the local cafe in Borgarfjordur Eystri, and she pointed out this large hill across the road and shared some stories. On the right side lives the kind elves, and on the left the tricksy elves. Makes sense, since I lost the path on that side. Saw 3 elves, too. They had 2 more legs than I was expecting, and their manes were twice as long as mine. 😉 Seriously though, it was a beautiful place. I felt like a child in a dream, crunching through flower meadows with tall swaying grass flowers, thick moss carpets and flat, clattering rocks patterned with a dozen different shades of lichen. You could easily imagine the rock shelves as balconies, towers, halls... #Iceland #MyStopover #magical #picoftheday
The fish drying racks on the hills of Borgarfjordur. Population 110. 1 of everything. 1 hotel, 1 café, 1 church, 1 fish factory. Walking around is oddly quiet. There's no Main Street, so there are no pedestrians. Everyone is either farming or in the fish factory. The puffins have left town, so no more tourists for the rest of the year. It's quiet enough that you can hear the bleating sheep across town, the trucks loading fish on the other side of town, the slow inexorable surf, and the wind whistling past the elf palace, Alfáborg (see previous photo). #Iceland #MyStopover #fishing #picoftheday
We ate in a cowshed. Borgafjor Cowshed Cafe, the #1 restaurant at Lake Myvatn. You walk past the open door of cows eating their dinner on your way in (had we been earlier, we could have watched the milking). You get a table, order your dinner (lamb shank with rhubarb jam and gravy with dark rye garlic bread + beef burger with homemade mozzarella), then go back around to pet the cows. The calves are adorable! Once you've scratched all their ears, you go back inside the restaurant. But look at the bottom photo: there's a window. You can see them, they can see you. The only tension is that you might be eating one of their relatives. #Iceland #yum #foodie #localproduce #slowfood #MyStopover #instafood
Dummuborgir ("dark castles") is a lava field near Lake Myvatn. The colours look impossible, but this was just as I saw it: azure skies, gold birches, scarlet heath, emerald moss and craggy, pockmarked black basalt. There were secret caves, and lost sheep. A large caldera loomed nearby (my pictures were into the sun and don't do it justice). Stay tuned for the hot spring we found around the corner... #Iceland #geology #MyStopover #nature
Wow. Grótagjá hot spring lava cave! Too bad underground magma flows in the '80s made it too hot and unstable to swim. Frankly, I think they just don't want the skinny dippers... You can see the scale if you can spy the fellow on the far end, standing up and blending into the edge of a boulder. #Iceland #hotspring #nofilter #beautiful #nature
How do you portray serenity, on top of a mountain, in a steaming hot spring infinity pool, watching the sun set in a fading periwinkle sky? I thought a yoga pose was, in this extraordinary instance, appropriate. @nourishhotyoga @saztbo #hotspring #sunset #yoga #nature #picoftheday Now off to watch for the Northern Lights--wish us luck!