Trekking across Northern Iceland

We stayed two nights in the Icelandair Mývatn Hotel, a nice change of pace allowing us to slow down a little. Today we’re back on the road. We dressed warmly because it’s also the coldest day so far with temps forecasted in the low 20’s and teens. It definitely felt that cold in Mývatn.

We started the day by visiting Goðafoss a powerful and wide waterfall. It’s called Waterfall of the Gods for a reason, it is among the most beautiful falls in the country. Though it is not very tall, the cascade is divided into two horseshoe-shaped falls, making it unique among Icelandic waterfalls.

Not far above the falls the river Skjálfandafljót divides in two, forming the island Hrútey. There’s some folklore attached to the waterfall as well. According to the Sagas, Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði threw his statues of pagan gods into the falls upon deciding that Iceland would officially convert to Christianity in the year 1000.

Chandler and I got some great shots of the water cascading over the rocks. It was truly gorgeous. I’ve never seen such blue water outside of the Caribbean.

Matt flew the drone over the falls and under the bridge. He’s getting really good at it! The video footage is awesome and I can’t wait to edit it when we get back home.

Next, we drove to the town of Akureyri, the unofficial capital of north Iceland. There are lots of shops, galleries, and cafes to visit. We stopped at the HOF and browsed the shop at the Visitors Center. Chandler was tempted to buy a bright yellow rain slicker but, after much deliberation, decided against it. Matt was similarly tempted by the Pyro Pets, candles shaped like animals that reveal a metal skeleton inside as the wax melts away. I hoped to find the egg themed jewelry made by a local artist that I had seen the first time we were here but sadly, either my memory of it is faulty or it’s no longer available.

We browsed a few more shops and had lunch at a cozy bakery in town. We met a local woman at the bakery who asked where we are from. We told her and she said she’d once visited Utah with friends to attend a wedding. She highly recommended that we go to Jólahúsið (Christmas House), which is just outside of town. She described the Christmas themed shops and urged us to explore the grounds outside where she tried to find the right English words to describe what we should see. I’m not sure, but something about a wishing well. We were tempted, but with daylight fading and a quick Google image search confirming it looks like a very large every-kind-of-Christmas-knick-knack store and decided against it.

We wanted to stop and see the giant dragon rock, Hvítserkur, otherwise known as the Troll of Northwest Iceland, but the day was just too short. We headed Gauksmýri, our accommodations for the night in Skagafjörður.

The drive along the winding, rural road was very scenic. Lots of rolling black hills covered in streaks of ice and snow that reminded us of chocolate crinkle cookies covered in powered sugar, remote farmhouses and small steepled churches illuminated in the darkness. NPR podcasts like This American Life, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and even Car Talk, kept us entertained along the way this week. Having a mobile hotspot is the way to go!

Our guesthouse is on a remote horse farm in Northwest Iceland. It appears we might be the only guests. There was a note for us inside the unlocked lobby with the room keys and instructions to check in at the reception after breakfast tomorrow morning along with a recommendation for dinner at Sjavarborg, a local restaurant.

Only one other table was occupied when we sat down and none when we left. It’s only because of the winter season when so few tourists are around the part of the country, the food was delicious. We had beef snitzel, beef stir fry udon and Parmesan salad with prosciutto then homeade ice cream for dessert. We also enjoyed a few Icelanic beers; an ale brewed with thyme, a Christmas lager and a saison. Dinner conversation revolved around pets, past present and future. Matt’s cat, Pickles, disappeared a week or two before we left for this trip. We all have fond memories of sweet Pickles ❤️. Matt got some love with a cozy kitten earlier today in Akureyri.

Turns out that we did have the entire guesthouse to ourselves. We could have played like Goldilocks and tried out all of the rooms as the keys for another 20 rooms or so were hanging on a board in the lobby. We didn’t, but the thought of it was fun. We relaxed in the large downstairs living room that was furnished with big sofas, bookcases with an interesting variety of books, written mostly in Icelandic, and horse themed decor. Actually, the whole place was horse themed everything. There was even a whole horse hide hanging on the wall of the stairway leading to the bedrooms. That was kind of freaky looking.

We played a few games of Farkle, with Matt winning every single game. Chandler went upstairs to take a shower while we looked over the photos we’d taken earlier in the day. He said it was kind of spooky walking around all alone upstairs in the empty lodge. Probably haunted by that poor horse on the wall.

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