Rants & Ramblings

random commentary about culture, media, politics, technology and whatnot.

jun
15
2012

Gray and Mist

Iceland Recap: Day 4

Saturday, April 28, was a gray, gray travel day, as we drove from Höfn, in the southeast of Iceland, to Mývatn in the northeast.

Before we hit the road, our host at Hoffell brought over some wonderful warm bread. I don’t remember what type of bread it was, but it was dense and the tiniest bit sweet. We sliced off a few extra pieces to take with us on the road.

Our itinerary didn’t afford us any time to visit Iceland’s east fjords — it was just straight on to Mývatn. Our GPS seemed to offer us a shortcut from the windy coastal road we were on, and the map appeared to concur that it was a valid route. But Road 939 was a (well-maintained) gravel road that took us through a mountain pass. It started to drizzle partway up, then snow. There was barely enough room on the road for two cars to pass — but then, that wasn’t really an issue because we rarely saw another car. It was all scarily beautiful, and I became preoccupied with the worry that we’d get stuck there or not be able to turn back. But Rob handled the drive quite well, taking things slowly and cautiously, and we finally made it across, back to the main highway.

Soon after, we stopped in Egilsstaðir for lunch. Our first-choice dining location had not yet opened for the summer, so we wound up at Café Valný, a cozy coffeehouse with a small buffet lunch (including a wonderful tomato sausage soup). After our nerve-wracking drive, this cafe was so very comforting.

On the Road

From there, it was back on that desolate road to Mývatn.

Arriving in Mývatn felt a bit like descending, again, into a vaguely alien landscape. We came in over a hill, looking out over volcanoes, geothermal pools and terrain whose color felt off somehow.

Upon arrival, we checked into our guesthouse, Eldá. The only other occupants that night were a couple with a young child, who kept to themselves on one side of the building. The restrooms and showers were shared, but there was no competition for access.

Hot springs. Surrounded by volcanoes. In freezing rain. This is fantastic.

Once we were situated, we ventured out to the Mývatn Nature Baths, with vouchers supplied by Nordic Visitor. I had been lukewarm (pardon the pun) about visiting the Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik, concerned about it being too crowded or touristy. And hot springs generally aren’t my thing anyway. But I found the Mývatn hot springs to be such a soothing experience: half-floating, eyes closed, in hot water, feeling light, freezing rain on my face. The contrast may sound strange, but to us, it felt wonderful.

We wanted to stay longer, but feared missing out on dinner. As it was, we arrived at our first-choice restaurant just after it closed. We then headed down the road to Vogafjos restaurant, on a dairy farm. (Diners can actually see the cows through a glass partition.) Dinner was good, but a little awkward: We each ordered a sampler platter of various Icelandic foods. We ate all of it except the goblet of skyr (Rob had a taste, and I had about half of mine), then caused inadvertent offense when we asked to see the dessert menu: The skyr was the dessert. Another menu item mentioned skyr served with a fruit compote, so I asked for a little of the compote to go with the rest of mine.

Photos from Iceland »

More: Overall | Day 1: Reykjavik | Day 2: Golden Circle to Vik | Day 3: Vik to Höfn | Day 4: Höfn to Mývatn | Day 5: Mývatn to Sauðárkrókur | Day 6: Sauðárkrókur to Reykjavik | Day 7: Reykjavik