Edit Blog Post
Published: September 21st 2021
Iceland Day 8 & 9 of 22
Monday - You can tell that this place - be it Iceland in general, or Egilsstaðir in particular - has a lot of American tourists given that it has a pretty authentic diner as a place to eat. We stopped off for a breakfast of american pancakes, maple syrup and bacon. All it really lacked was the waitress going around with a filter coffee pot for unlimited refills, and people, there were only half a dozen there including us.
For the morning we set off to the coastal town of Seydisfjordur, just 30km to the east of us, accessed over a "pass" road. We passed some strange art work on the way - see picture of painted concrete blocks. Apparently when it was first "installed" there was a small TV on top of each block.
Previously a fishing port ("you don't say!" I hear you say) it is now focused on tourism, and on a thriving arts scene. It was also the setting for the Icelandic murder mystery drama "Trapped".
It is renowned for having one of Iceland's largest number of original wooden buildings. However that number was reduced on
18 December 2020 by a major landslip, the largest ever known to hit Iceland. We weren't aware of this until we came upon an explanation board whilst heading for a geo-cache. The slip took out 13 buildings, including 4 of the old ones, cut the end of town off from the centre, and caused £millions in damage. Fortunately no one was killed or injured.
The cache location was at a "phone box" art work installed to commemorate the anniversary of the telegraph cable between Scotland and Iceland, 1906.
Back in the centre we walked the couple of main streets. The church is cute enough, this time without a red roof, but with the - commonplace for Iceland - Rainbow Road outside.
On the way back inland we stopped briefly at more glacial formations. Giant's Kettles/Moulin Potholes - caused by rocks dropping through crevasses in a glacier and then churning out a circular feature in the bedrock below.
And Roches Moutonnees - an off-centred humped rock shaped by the glacier passing over and scouring it.
Pip is still in full-on geographer mode!
Passing back through Egilsstaðir we turned SW along the lake side to Hengifoss Falls.
With a drop of 118 metres they are Iceland's third highest falls, but they are particularly famed for their photogenic qualities because of the rock banding formation behind. This also gave us the opportunity for a decent walk, as they are a 5km round trip from the car park. That's all very well, but these guide books never seem to mention the altitude involved - an 850 foot ascent in this case. The red banding, between the obvious dark lava layers, is volcanic ash and scoria which have turned into a red clay soil.
Before an evening pizza we spent a pleasant hour at the Vök Baths. This thermal spa claims to be Iceland's only floating thermal baths, sitting as they do at the edge of and in the lake. Their infinity pool edges are a great location from which to watch the sunset. No killer sun-set but nice cloud colours, but no pictures as we weren't taking our camera or phones into that watery locale.
There were ladders hanging off the baths into the lake for those brave souls who fancied a cooling dip in the lake water. We resisted temptation on this occasion.
was planned to be a leisurely drive to a waterfall and then on to our lodgings. Hour & half / 45 minutes / 45 minutes for each section. What we had missed somewhere was the severe weather change that was taking place.
Setting off at 8am the temp was 5° and gradually got colder, eventually to 0°. The rain turned to sleet and then to settling snow. Most driving was now at 40 to 50 kph, at best, in a low gear, for around 3 hours, mostly ploughing a new furrow through the fresh snow.
By the way have we mentioned the Iceland roads? They don't do kerbs or raised edges, and mostly don't do barriers. But they do do drop offs, big time. Almost every kilometre of road is raised above its surroundings by at least a foot or two and normally by much more than that...
and down a 45° slope.
Oh, and did we mention the strong side winds too??
In the absence of much traffic, behind us or coming towards, much of the time was spent with at least part of the car straddling the road centre, not that we could see
the "centre line".
We drove past the waterfall turn - 30 km off the main road - deliberately, and carried on to our final destination, Lake Myvatn. And took a very welcome coffee break at our first opportunity. It was around 11.30.
After around 45 minutes though the clouds started to lift and we had a stunning view of the surrounding, now snow covered hills through which we had been driving.
In this slightly better weather we took in a couple of the local stops - a lakeside walk, and a large turf roofed house that is lived in. On the whole we now had bright sunshine. Whilst parked up Paul had a look at the weather forecast. The weather at the 'falls was now a balmy 8°, and today looked better than tomorrow. So we set off back away from the lake and headed for the Dettifoss Falls.
Dettifoss, or Dental Floss as Pip keeps wanting to say, is Europe's largest falls by volume - 500 cubic metres per second, 100m wide, 40m drop - and a mighty sight they are too. It was the setting for Alien : Prometheus, the scene where the alien
lets himself dissolve into the rushing waters of the falls.
There are various viewpoints. Strangely the higher, downstream platform was the most uncomfortable. All the spray came that way, and it was blowing a hoolie, barely able to stand up in it. Whilst down at ground right next door to the top of the falls there was no spray and just a little wind.
On walking back to the car park we reflected on why one of iceland's biggest tourist attractions, with an enormous car park, and a 16 toilet facility, didn't have any cafe at all. Not even a travelling coffee cart or van.
Trust our luck. By the time we were driving back to Myvatn the winds had increased to gale force, from the side again. No snow, some rain but again a struggle to keep the car in a straight line. Fortunately only around 50km total to get to our lodgings.
After these 4 seasons in one day here's hoping for some more settled weather in the coming days.
Tot: 0.03s; Tpl: 0.018s; cc: 7; qc: 23; dbt: 0.0052s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb