We thanked her for her hospitality and insight into rural Icelandic life, and drove down the gravel road to Dettifoss, where to our surprise, we came upon a car park that was full of cars and tour buses. Where had all of these people come from? We even saw a Taiwanese family that we had seen four days earlier at Pingvellir!
Dettifoss was an impressive waterfall, but more impressive was the gorge that the river cut into the plateau. The weather was actually hot, and the mist from the waterfall was a welcome respite from the heat.
We headed back to the ring road, and then to Lake Myvatn, our intended camping spot for the night. A few km east of Lake Myvatn, was Hverir, a large field of bubbling mud pools, spewing sulfurous gas. This was the “Star Trek” set of the trip. The geothermal activity also had a pleasant side effect, as the Jardbodin baths were near by. These baths, lesser known than Blue Lagoon, were up on a hill overlooking Lake Myvatn, and had the most incredible view of any place we visited. A few hours soaking in these baths and rubbing our feet on the lava sand, felt like we had been at a very exclusive spa. Our bodies cleansed, and rejuvenated, we headed to Lake Myvatn to find a place to camp.
Iceland is reputedly a choice spot for filming European car commercials, and we were not disappointed. The rest stop overlooking Lake Myvatn, had a complete trailer and two new Renault sedans that were being used to film a commercial for the new cars. As there is very little traffic, the crews do not have any road crews to direct traffic beyond the people filming the commercials.
Myvatn translates as “fly lake”, a seemingly harmless name. Unfortunately, we were there during the peak of the “fly season”. Despite the 20km wind, these little flies covered the front of our pants in about 20 seconds, and while not a biting type of fly, lead us to abandon any plans of staying at the lake.
We continued around the lake, stopping to take a few pictures of the pseudo craters at the south end of the lake, before heading to Fosshall, home of Godafoss, a famous waterfall in Iceland, and in a “No Fly Zone!” Godafoss is a twin waterfall, and looks like a miniature version of Niagara Falls. Legend has it that the lawmaker who decided that Iceland should be officially Christian in the year 1000, pushed 2 pagan stat
ues over the falls. After the encounter with the flies, a nice cold Thule beer was required to calm the nerves, and set the pace for a relaxing evening camping near the waterfalls.
Fosshall is 40 km east of Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest city. The drive to Akureyri was also very changeable, as the dry plateau gave way to a large fiord, with snow capped mountains behind the city for a stunning backdrop.
Akureyri has numerous museums, a botanical garden and a church overlooking the town. Settled for over 1000 years, Akureyri is a modern town with a university, shipping company, and most importantly, Peng’s Chinese Restaurant – run by a Singaporean for the past 17 years. This lead to a Asian food breakdown, to enjoy an Icelandic Chinese lunch buffet – the cheapest meal of the week.
After departing the stunning fiord that Akureyri is situated in, we headed west towards the Snaefellnes Peninsula, ending up in a small village on another fiord. This location was notable for its calm sea and the closest thing we saw to a sunset, when we actually saw some change in the color of the light