The Long Drive

June 25, 2009

We had a long way to drive today, so we set our alarms for 6:30 am. At breakfast we found that Christine was not feeling well. Rosemary thought it might be dehydration from two hours in the hot pool yesterday, but Christine didn’t think so. Whatever the reason, she lay down until it was time to go, then slept most of the day.

The weather was picture perfect, so as we drove along the round-the-fjord, West Fjords farm over-the-fell roads we had become used to in the Westfjords, the views were superb. We also finally saw the ice cap on Snæfell, Snæfell so that was a highlight. Our road was dirt for the first part, but in good condition, and there were not many other cars, so we made good time.

By noon we had left those roads behind and were on Highway 1, the ring road. We stopped for lunch at a place named Viðigerði, which was really just a truck stop with fuel and a restaurant. There was also a craftsman shop with wooden carvings. Rosemary and Christine decided to buy one each. But since we couldn’t figure out who to pay or how, we went and had our lunch first. After lunch we went back to the shop and met the carver, Ásgeir. He was a really interesting man who told us about each of the different carvings. Some of them were based on the sagas and others were statues of famous Icelanders like Halldór Laxness. He was self-taught and had lived in various places before settling where he was now. He showed us his living quarters, which were just off the gallery, and his Buddhist shrine and some pictures painted by his father. It was interesting but odd at the same time.

Rosemary had been admiring an unfinished carving of a dragon, which Ásgeir explained was possibly going to be a handle of a cup, so it wasn’t for sale. But while he was signing the small carving which Rosemary had bought, she was talking to his friend and mentioned that she liked the dragon carving. He called to Ásgeir and before she knew it, Ásgeir had given it to her. What a lovely memento to take home!

On the road again, we zoomed across the country to Akureyri. Akureyri Neil’s camera battery charger had failed and resisted all his efforts to fix it. And both his batteries were dead, so he needed some kind of replacement. As we drove through the town, Christine – having recovered from her malaise – spotted the word “Canon” which turned out to be on a camera store. Incredibly they had the right brand of battery charger, and it did work with his batteries. We had a quick look at the church, which has stained-glass windows from Coventry Cathedral, Stained glass and then zoomed on to Reykjahlið by Mývatn, arriving about 6:30 pm.

We had booked two double rooms at the Eldá guesthouse, but instead we were given an apartment with two bedrooms. We are doing well with upgrades on this trip! This was great for us, as we had a shared kitchen for the four of us. We brought in all the packs from the car and Christine cooked the dinner. She had made a spaghetti sauce yesterday, so it was very quick. Soup to start, then the spaghetti followed by cookies and tea.

After dinner the two of us decided to go for one of the walks from our hiking book. We first went down to the lake to check out the birds, then wandered along the road for a bit. We found the trailhead, so we decided to walk part way along it, as it was already 8:30 pm. The trail was well-marked with yellow posts, but our route didn’t quite match the description in the book. We came to a trail junction which showed us that it wasn’t too much farther to the underground hot pool, Grjótagjá. Altogether it took us about an hour to get there.

Underground hot pool
The pool itself was in a cave, but we did go down for a look, then headed back across the lava. When we came to the trail junction we decided to return on the other path, which was so twisty that it was disorienting. So it took us a bit longer. At the end of the trail we walked along a short trail to another underground pool. This one was down a long set of metal steps, and then to get into the pool you lowered yourself in by a chain. If you wanted to get in, that is, which we didn’t.

We got back to the room at about 11 pm. Outside it was still very light, despite the overcast skies.

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