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Our Journey To Iceland: Part 2

Let’s continue with the second part of our trip to Iceland, picking up the story from where we left it (if you missed the first part you can find it here). So, let’s start again from the end of the third day, when we arrived in Vík after a wonderful tour full of attractions.

As in the previous post, the map on the left shows the entire path, while the one on the right side, the specific stretch from Vík to Akureyri.

Day 4: From Reynisfjara to Hofn

On the fourth day, we started to discover the famous black beach of Reynisfjara, one of the most interesting Icelandic sites. Although we arrived early in the morning, the beach was already very crowded; flocks of birds were flying over the ocean, many of them were fishing in the sea and going to feed their chicks in the nests on the cliff.
Suddenly, we unexpectedly spotted the Puffins: cute birds, typical of the Nordic countries, with a curious appearance, white and black feathers and a yellow and red beak. It’s been very exciting admiring them so closely!

Back in the car, after about half an hour we reached the lava fields of Eldhraun, created by one of the largest volcanic eruptions that occurred in the history of this country at the end of 1700. The landscape there is peculiar: a large area of rounded rocks covered with green moss that give the look like being really soft!

The next stop was Fjadrargljufur, a canyon eroded in more than two million years by the Fjaðrá river. After a short 20-minute walk, we reached this wonderful and impressive natural attraction; the river flows slowly in this jagged gorge and the only noise was the rustling of the water creating an atmosphere of serenity and peace. Usually, it is possible to enter and climb above the canyon, but during our visit it was closed for restoration works to protect the site.

At lunch we stopped in a small village and we ate at a cafeteria called Systrakaffiwe found on the internet. After having restored our energies with a good hot ginger and carrots soup, we headed to visit a strip of the Vatnajökull glacier. In the parking lots of signs warn about the dangers of the place and among them the most important is to be careful not to fall into the water since the temperature is 2°C and it takes you only few minutes before getting hypothermia. We took the path to admire the glacier more closely and, at the beginning, it was easy, but it soon became impervious.

To be honest, we did not feel particularly in danger until we met a girl who was crying because she had not heard from her boyfriend for a while, since he had walked away to continue the climb alone. His cell phone was not reachable and even by calling him at the top of her lungs he was not answering. She also called the police who denied any assistance. We realized the dangerousness of the glacier only in that specific moment; a little scared, we began to go down until we reached a safe area. In the end, it was a real relief to discover that the guy had slipped to the frozen lagoon but luckily, he didn’t fall into it; some brave tourists saw him and rescued him! So, after this frightful adventure, we learned a great lesson: never underestimate the Icelandic Nature!

Around mid-afternoon we headed to the glacial lagoon of Jökulsárlón. The word that best describe it is… WOW !! Many icebergs, coming from the Vatnajökull glacier, float and give life to a breath-taking landscape. Despite the cloudy sky, the landscape offered suggestive colours, from white to a thousand shades of blue, lilac and grey.

This beauty enchanted us so much that we decided to visit the lagoon with a tour that we hadn’t planned before. After 20 minutes we were on an amphibious boat, ready to explore the ancient icebergs. A guide was explaining the characteristics of the place, and, in the meantime, we had the opportunity to pick up a piece of ice: whoever wanted, could break off a slice of it and eat it (which we obviously did!). After the tour, we managed also to sight the seals!

Looking at the photos of some photographers on Instagram, we discovered Stokksnes, a private property where, paying a few crowns, it’s possible to visit the Viking Village and the entire area near the beach. So, even if a bit tired, we faced the last stop of the day and, as we imagined, it is definitely worth it: The landscape is beautiful, the grey mountains rise directly on the ocean and several dark sand dunes characterize the place.

After a quick dinner at the Z-Bistro in Hofn, we reached our lodging at night: the Bragdavellir Cottages, close to Djúpivogur. This accommodation was a small wooden house, like the ones used as a storage in the garden, but with two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room and a kitchen. There was even a dvd player with a stack of classic 90s movies. What a unique experience sleeping in these small rustic cottages!

Day 5: from Djúpivogur to Akureyri

The morning after, having spotted a stream nearby, we intentionally put on our rubber boots to cross it. We felt like we were kids again, splashing water in mountain streams as we used to do when we were younger.

Then, we stopped to explore the village of Djúpivogur. Here there is an interesting sculpture by the Icelandic artist Sigurður Guðmundsson, called “Eggin í Gleðivík“. The work consists in the reproduction of 34 granite eggs, to honour the bird’s species present in Eastern Iceland. We spent a lot of time driving, going north and seeing the beautiful landscapes outside the window. We saw waterfalls, streams, snowy areas and areas completely covered with fog. You will never get tired of the beauty and variety of Icelandic landscapes!

At lunchtime, in a valley, we discovered a very special place: Vallanes, Móðir Jörð Organic farm. There, we had a divine brunch with porridge, skyr and jam, eggs, pancakes, cheeses, orange juice and apple, flavoured water and coffee. All the ingredients in the menu are homemade and the food is delicious! The restaurant is furnished in wood, with natural finishes; outside there is also a greenhouse where the owners have set up, inside, a small living room among the plants. That day, the sun was shining on the beautiful landscape and finally the temperatures were moderate!

Back on our road trip, along the way we came across a huge desert area characterized by lunar landscapes. We explored the region on foot, admiring and taking pictures of the great landscape. After that, we arrived at Dettifossby car and we reached by foot the imposing waterfall; this is the largest waterfall in Europe, and, in our opinion, it is absolutely worth the visit because of the vertiginous leap that the watercourse makes.

Next stop: Hverir, a geothermal field with pools of boiling mud. The colours of the scenery range from ochre and orange to grey and it really looked like being on Mars! Hverir is a suggestive place although a negative note: the nauseating smell which is very difficult to bear.

After this area, we reached Grjótagjá, near the Lake Mytvan. This cave was chosen as a location for an episode of Game of Thrones, the famous TV series… Do you remember when Jon Snow and Ygritte took a bath together? This is the place where the scene took place! Some rumours say that the water was too hot to shoot the scene, so they had to reproduced the exact copy of this cave in the studio. 

The last stop of our itinerary, before reaching Akureyri,  was the Godafoss  waterfall, much smaller and less impactful than Dettifoss, but still fascinating.

In the late afternoon we finally arrived in Akureyri, the second urban area of ​​the country. Here we rented a design house for two nights on airbnb.com. This accommodation was above our expectations: in fact, in addition to the beauty and modernity of the house, the view was extraordinary! On one sides: expanses of green fields bordered by rounded pastel-coloured mountains; on the other, beyond the fjord, the town of Akureyri and other snow-capped mountains.

After some shopping in the village, we spent the evening at the house, just enjoying the view from the large windows. Do you remember post 1, where we were talking about the fact that at the end of May in Vík the lupins flowers still had to hatch…? Well, in North Iceland they were all bloomed! So, before going to sleep, just the two of us, the girls, went out to take some pictures at sunset in the Lupins fields, having fun once again as two little girls!

Day 6: Whale Watching and the surroundings of Akureyri.

The day after, as soon as we woke up we ran to look out of the window: blue sky, bright sun and not even a cloud above Akureyri! We could not be happier than that because we had the excursion scheduled to see the whales for the first time! (excursion booked two days earlier on the website www.northsailing.is, after having checked the weather forecast)

So, after breakfast, we headed to the port of Hjalteyri. We were wearing the winter jackets, but it was extremely cold! Fortunately, North Sailing immediately provided us with a very thick suit that could block every breath of air. Set sail in the sea, the scenery was beautiful, deep blue sea and snow-capped mountains around. The tour should have lasted 2 hours but, after an hour, we still hadn’t caught sight of any cetaceans; so we agreed with the captain to lengthen the excursion, to be able to sail further north.

It was the best choice because we were finally able to see 4 whales! How wonderful … we could not believe our eyes! They swam so quietly, spraying the air out of the breather on their backs … the boat went closer and one of them showed us its tail! On the way back, admiring the view and enjoying the waves, we drunk hot chocolate with a cinnamon donut … delicious!

Down to the mainland, we went back to Akureyri and we decided to explore the Akureyri Botanical Garden. This is one of the northernmost botanical gardens on the planet, where many varieties of plants and flowers are grown. Admission is free and inside there is a very nice bar, Café Laut.

We spent the rest of the day in relax, taking pictures of the house where we were staying, cooking fresh salmon for dinner and drinking a beer while watching the sunset. Akureyri was a wonderful place, which left us with wonderful memories… there’s nothing better than being able to share them with your dearest friends!

The second part of our trip to Iceland ends here… bye till next week with the third and last part!

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