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Published: December 30th 2018
(Last night: went for the Northern Lights tour - we did see them, they're as enchanting as ever. My tripod wasn't cooperating and I didn't get good pictures, but that's ok - I was just happy to see them again. And happy that we got free hot chocolate while waiting because it was bloody cold standing in the middle of nowhere)
Adventure day! We drove to the Lake Myvatn area, east of Akureyri. Yes everything was amazing, but it was also fun trying to remember where I'd been before and what was familiar/had changed. First things first, they've built a tunnel (7km..!) since last time, so we didn't have to do the mountain pass which was good (especially for the drive home!). It was funny hearing about the tunnel - it was reminiscent of LRT tunnel woes: 2 years behind schedule, main issue was an geothermal and environment study that was total crap which led to flooding lol. First they hit a cold water spring which flooded the tunnel, then they hit a hot spring which flooded it so bad that you could only pass by boat. I love it.
First stop was Godafoss - Waterfall of the Gods.
This was probably the most 'meh' thing today... I remember it so much bigger, but then again last time they didn't have the paths and tourist area marked out, so we literally walked right to the edge and sat on the rocks lol. Not so much anymore. It was still pretty, but the South Shore waterfalls are still my fav.
Next we headed into Lake Myvatn - the area has all these pseudocraters which are only found here and in Hawaii. Our guide explained them - it's something to do with the magma (like everything in Iceland lol) but I forget. Regardless, they make for good photos with the frozen lake and a selection of volcanic mountains all around them. Good ambience too - could hear a bunch of huskies howling nearby. The walk was a little treacherous though... they don't seem to exactly salt/sand, so quite a few people in our group found out the hard way that you need hiking boots or crampons. Ouch. Thankfully, I had my crampons. (Best $20 on Amazon I ever spent.)
From there we drove around the area a bit - we stopped at a few quick photo stops for different
Game of Thrones tidbits - they film parts of it here. One of my fav stops was on the east part of the lake there are these shelf-like caves, and the guide was saying how one day he was out with a private tour early in the morning and they found a guy sleeping in sleeping bag in one of them. Needless to say he was a little off-put to wake up to a bunch of tourists taking photos haha. (To be fair to the guy, you can pretty much legally sleep anywhere here unless there's a specific sign saying not to.)
We headed to the lava fields (Dimmuborgir) - which is home to the "Yule Lads". They're like Christmas trolls? Trolls are a big thing in Iceland. And it's fantastic because the 13 days leading up to Christmas the idea is they visit and leave you candies and small presents... or a rotting potato ahahaha. I love it. Anyway, the lava fields are super impressive formations - they aren't quite sure how they came to be, but they think there was a magma chamber that ended up being pushed away/disappeared and this is what was left under it.
Again, super slippery... lots of flying tourists lol.
We got to explore some of the cave system, stopping at Grjotagja - aka the "Love Cave" lol. It's the only cave in the system that is open to the public... basically because people are dumb and did dumb things in the others ones. This one was also used for GoT (well, they tried, but after a day of filming realised that hot steam doesn't work well with camera equipment so they 3D modelled the cave instead). It's a little tricky getting down into the cave (you def don't want to lose your footing!), but once you're down there there's an eerie steam that fills the space. Def worth the stop.
Last photo stop was at Hevrir - I was super happy to be back here, even better in the winter because the clay is mostly frozen. I remember last time the clay caked on to my hiking boots and it was literally impossible to get off. Our guide actually warned us today not to step in any that was wet. So, Hevrir is a geothermal field with all the steam and bubbling mud you could want. The magma chambers
are really close to the soil here - only ~3500m he was saying, so they have to be careful when drilling with the nearby geothermal plant. (Once they hit a chamber - woops! there goes the drill and when they pulled it up there was a mini man-made volcano)
Anyway, Hevrir has a creepy vibe - once again, there is steam coming up and blowing all over the place. The coolest bit though is this cone/triangular rock formation that just ejects this constant huge cloud of steam - you can walk through it and it's so thick you literally can't see your hand in front of your face.
I was sad we didn't go to Krafla (volcano nearby)... I'm curious what that looks like now. I remember when we went there were all these signs basically like "if you step off the path you might die so..." lol. They weren't playing back then. I hope it hasn't been too tourist-ified... it's really a beautiful spot and if you're smart about it, there are so many great photo opportunities.
Last stop was the Myvatn Nature Baths - basically, Blue Lagoon of the north. Less people, cheaper, I'm (literally)
in. The water is unreal - the crazy blue from the silica makes it so picturesque. I got a glass of wine and happily spent my hour going back and forth from the regular bath (~36-40C) to the "hot tub" (~46C). Omg it was unpleasant going back and forth though haha - freaking cold today - you shuffle fast, let me tell you. It started to snow the last 20 minutes or so that we were there... I didn't go back to get my phone (... I didn't want to run around in my bathing suit in the snow more than once), but it was quite something having the steam and snow mix together. You really sit there just enjoying life.
The drive back to Akureyri... I was really glad someone else was doing it. That nice fluffy snow kept getting heavier and heavier until it turned into a proper blizzard - you couldn't see anything out the side of the car and we were crawling along. Thankfully there was the tunnel for the mountain - going over the mountain would have been too much for this lol. Getting into Akureyri I was happy to see all the snow
and walk around in it - apparently so far it's 7cm in town and we're supposed to get another 15cm tomorrow morning. Woohoo! I went back to the giant Christmas tree and took a proper photo of it in its glory and then I went to grab some fish n' chips for supper - got a window seat so I could continue to watch the fun 😊
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