Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Iceland - Day 8

May 19, 2015

Our morning started with a lovely new friend right outside our window! A massive harbor seal had taken up residence on the seaweed behind our guesthouse! 

We started off our morning exploring the small town of Borgarfjörður Eystri. There was an excellent example of a classic turf house.

Then, we visited the Puffins again, by they were mostly out to sea for the day. The gulls were still hanging out though.

Iceland is home to mythology sorrounding the Huldufólk, or Hidden Folk. Truly, after witnessing the strange natural phenomena, its not hard to understand why folks hundreds of years ago believed that elves and other types of hidden folk lived among the rocks and moss. It goes a little too far though when construction of roads and buildings is stopped and/or rerouted to avoid angering the elves. While most folks in Iceland no longer believe in the Hidden Folk, they also don't seem to NOT believe in them either. Borgarfjörður Eystri plays host to the elf-queen Hildur at her home Álfaborg, or Elf Rock. We hiked up Álfaborg and enjoyed wonderful views of the fjord.

Dried fish is a major export from Iceland. Luckily, it apparently wasn't heavy fish-drying season but we did find these heads near the harbor.

Our original plan was to hike around the area that day, but according to the visitors' center at Egilsstaðir, there was still WAY to much snow on the ground for hiking in the area. So, we decided to head towards our next destination Lake Mývatn and spend more time there. Unfortunately, we had to get back out of Borgarfjörður Eystri the same way we came: over a very high mountain pass with roads carved into huge skree slopes. The skree slopes in this area are so treacherous that at Njarðvíkurskriður it was believed that a monster, Naddi, caused all the tragic accidents. In the early 1300's, a proper exorcism was performed and a cross erected with the words ‘Effigiem Christi qui transis pronus honora, Anno MCCCVI’ – ‘You who are hurrying past, honour the image of Christ – AD 1306’. Supposedly, travelers would read the prayer when passing the danger zone and be protected.

The landscape changed significantly as we headed inland. We rose in altitude then the land flattened out to almost plain-like flatness dotted with random volcanic mountains.

On our way to Lake Mývatn, we took a detour to Dettifoss and (another) Selfoss. It was a bit of a shock to return to such a touristy atmosphere the likes of which we hadn't seen since Geysir on our first day. We hiked first out to Selfoss, which we thought was more beautiful than Dettifoss.

I couldn't jump across the everwidening streams that L could to get closer to the top of the falls.

Dettifoss is supposedly the most powerful waterfall in Europe. The weird grey area in the bottom of the picture is an ice shelf!

The views in the region were incredible!

After the falls, we headed to Hverir Geothermal Area.

Then, we headed up to the Krafla Power Station which is sorrounded by interesting geothermal features and (snow-covered) hiking.

Viti Explosion Crater

One interesting thing we learned, was that if the mountains have flat tops, the eruptions that created them were powerful enough to reach the surface of the glaciers above the ground. The glacier would trap lava in a mountain-like shape until the lava reached the surface of the glacier, where it would flow away leaving behind a smooth-topped mountain.

We walked around the Viti Explosion Crater but it was fairly precarious in places as it was still very wet from the snow melt.

 I like this mountain the best.

The trucks in Iceland are legit.

After checking into our guesthouse, we headed to Vogafjós restaurant for dinner. In addition to a restaurant, Vogafjós is a guesthouse and working farm complete with a dairy operation. I had roasted lamb and L had a smorgasbord of  home-made/farm-raised cheese, smoked fish, smoke lamb, and rye bread baked in the ground using geothermal heat.

And, of course, dessert :)

The dairy shed is open to the public and L had a good time meeting the calves.

We stayed the night at Guesthouse Elda which was the largest guesthouse we've visited.

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