The weather was still rather cool and damp on the third day that we journeyed east. Our first stop was Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon. This spot made famous in many movies (Die Another Day, Tomb Raider, etc, and the May 2007 cover of Vanity Fair magazine) is a must stop point for any tourist to Iceland. The lagoon sits at the end of a glacier which calves icebergs into the lagoon. The entire bay has an eerie look, made more ethereal by the fog that is normally present. We managed to arrive 15 minutes ahead of the tour buses, and had a chance to take in the scene with very few people around.
The tour buses disengorge their cargo onto amphibious vehicles which then go on a one hour tour of the lake. Not sure how much anyone saw on the day we were there as the visibility was about 100 ft or less.
After spending an hour at Jokulsarlon, we continued east towards Hofn. Hofn is in East Iceland and is out of the direct weather patterns created by the ice cap. The temperature warmed up, and the sun came out. We were now going to be in the rain shadow of the coastal mountains, and would have the best weather of the trip over the next three days. East Iceland has many more fiords than the south, which results in a ot of driving to cover not much ground, as most fiords must be traveled from mouth to neck and back again. Added to this was the fact that the road was unpaved during most of these sections, and there was minimal shoulders on the road. This lead to a most exhilarating drive, albeit without any traffic.
Marg’s dream destination of the trip was Café Margret, near Breidalsvik. We had planned to have dinner there, but arrived a bit early and settled on hot chocolate and cheesecake – both of which were incredibly delicious. The café run by two Germans, was modeled after a log house, reminiscent of the type of buildings Germans usually build when they move to the wilds of BC. Thus we had Germans operating a cafe in a Canadian style house in rural Iceland – all very confusing.
We headed north – inland towards Egilstadir, Iceland’s third biggest town, but made a detour to a campground on Lagarflot, a large fiord like lake which Egilstadir is built around, and home to the only true forest in Iceland.
The birch forest surrounding the southern end of the lake, made this feel like a Canadian lake. The campground, was again a lawn, but had lots of trees. This coupled with the excellent facilities and BBQ pits made us feel like we were car camping in Canada. We met some Icelanders who were also camping in tent trailers. They informed us that it was still a few weeks before the main camping season, which is why we had not seen many locals camping
The fifth day on the ring road offered us the most diverse landscape of any day in the trip. After leaving the birch forested lake, we headed up onto a plateau that was devoid of any plant life, and which resembled a desert. We then came to an intersection that indicated Dettifoss, Europe’s largest waterfall. There was a coffee shop in someone’s farm/house, where we stopped to get a drink. The owner’s wife ran the coffee shop, and as it turned out was from Reykjavik, a transplanted city girl , who spoke excellent English. She was there reluctantly, and while she didn’t mind the summer months there, spent most of the rest of the year with her family in Reykjavik, as this was a very isolated place in the middle of nowhere.