Friday, September 17, 2010

Day Nine - Þorshöfn to Húsavík

Today was full of some majorly exciting things! First, we drove to the very most northern tip of Iceland which is just 2.5 kilometers from the Arctic Circle. John walked out to the lighthouse at the very end of the land while I stayed with a sleeping Will in the car.

We then drove a seriously rough road to the waterfall Dettifoss. If we didn't have a 4x4 we never would have made it. The dirt road was like a washboard, and then every .5 km or so there would be a deep puddle to drive through. The effort it took to get there was totally worth it though. Very impressive! There is a lot of water coming down that fall! I think it was my favorite waterfall of the trip so far -- and we've seen A LOT of waterfalls.

The plan had been to backtrack our way back the way we had come but at the last minute we decided to take the road all the way through to the Ring Road. It ended up being a great decision as that portion of the road was newly paved! It was a huge difference – no giant ponds to cross or boulders in the road -- and took about 1/4 of the time to drive out as it did to drive in.

We arrived in Húsavík at dinner time and checked in to our little cottage at Kaldbaks-Kot. Our cottage had two bedrooms, a living area and a tiny kitchen and was right on the edge of the water with an amazing view. So perfect!

We had dinner at Gamli Baukur which was adorable, cozy and delicious. The restaurant is right on the harbor and since it was Friday night it was packed with a bunch of ladies drinking beer and hanging out. They were all in their Icelandic sweaters and it was cute how much fun they were having.

I ate the fish soup which was INCREDIBLE (probably the best thing I ate the whole trip) and Will and I shared a pulled pork sandwich which was also very good. We took advantage of their free wi-fi and then headed back to our cottage.

As we were driving back to our cottage, we noticed how clear the sky was. It had been quite cloudy when the sun went down but now we could see tons of stars. As I watched out the window, suddenly a green glow started in the middle of the sky and started to grow brighter and larger. We could not believe it!! It was the Northern Lights again!! We rushed to our cottage and scrambled out of the car. The lights just continued to get bigger and change. John got the camera and tripod set up and we took some photos. After a little while the lights faded away and we went back inside the cottage.

We kept checking out the windows as we got ready for bed and the lights came and went. After Will was asleep, we looked out the window again to be met with the most spectacular display of lights we could have possibly imagined. We stood outside for an hour or more just in awe. At one point the lights arched from one horizon, directly over our heads, and down to the opposite horizon. It was insane!! It was such a dream come true and we never expected to see anything like it. The experience of a lifetime to be sure!

Get ready for a ton of photos, starting NOW!

Ytra-Áland: the farm where we spent the night.

Breakfast room at Ytra-Áland


Kálfshamars lighthouse at the very most Northern tip of Iceland.
You could throw a rock from here to the Arctic Circle.

The mystical and magical Ásbyrgi cliffs. This is the capital city of the "hidden people".
Odin's giant flying horse stomped his hoof down here and created the massive, horse-shoe shaped Ásbyrgi cliffs. Pure magic. They rise up out of the ground like the runway for an alien ship.

Walking the desolate moonscape to Dettifoss. Rad.

Dettifoss. It is dizzyingly huge.

Can you see me all tiny over on the right?

One of my fav waterfalls in Iceland.

There is NO ONE here.

The clouds here are always incredible.

And are you ready for this??

The three of us as the light show was just beginning.
We had no idea what we were in for yet!

The lights across the fjord from our cabin.

The lights -- plus John and I -- behind our cabin.

Straight overhead.

The view from our bed. The most magical experience of our lives!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day Eight - Seyðisfjörður to Þorshöfn

After breakfast at the hotel, we drove around Seyðisfjörður for a bit before heading out.

Today was mostly just a driving day way up North off of the Ring Road to Þorshöfn. It was a very windy and desolate drive. We arrived in Þorshöfn in the evening and continued about 12 km further to the farm where we were to spend the night. The farm is called Ytra-Áland and essentially we were staying in the woman's house. It was lovely because we actually had two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a kitchen area all to ourselves! The woman who runs the place was so nice and accomadating and welcoming.

For dinner we had to drive back to Þorshöfn to the only restaurant around, Eyrin. The place was packed with guys watching soccer. I had the most incredible clam chowder with locally sourced clams and we also got a pizza which was good.

When we got back to the farm, we talked to a guy from Greenland who was living there for a year for a school requirement. Super interesting! The Greenlandic (I don't know if that's what it's called, haha) language might be even crazier than Icelandic, if that's possible!

Because we were so far north (probably less than 50 km from the Arctic Circle) we were on the lookout for the Northern Lights – and we were lucky enough to see some! The sky was a bit cloudy, so they were faint and not very distinct, but we were ecstatic! It was a dream come true!

Breakfast at Hotel Aldan.

Dang those rolls were amazing.

Details around the main reception/restaurant of the hotel. In love.

Church in Seyðisfjörður. I want to get married again at this church!
Or stage wedding photos anyway. :)

On the drive North to Þorshöfn.

So many waterfalls every where you look.

The open road beckons to us.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day Seven - Höfn to Seyðisfjörður

This morning when checking out of the hotel, the guy at the front desk gave us directions to this re-creation of a Viking village not far from the hotel. It was super cool! And kind of creepy. We were technically not supposed to be there. We were out there completely alone in this spooky village with sheep wandering around. Awesome!

We had a bit longer of a drive today that included lots of mountain driving in the rain and a bit of snow. After driving over a giant mountain we descended into our destination Seyðisfjörður. It is the most adorable town and we stayed in Hotel Aldan which I have to determined to be my favorite hotel in the world. It was built in the 1920s and is decorated in all white with antique furniture. The hotel is comprised of three different buildings -- the building we are in used to be a bank. I'm totes decorating my next bedroom/house in this style!

We were lucky enough to be able to eat dinner at the hotel restaurant on the last night before they closed for the season. I had the cod and it was delicious and so fresh. I'm not a big seafood fan, but I've had to try it whenever possible while on this trip and it's been amazing.

Unfortunately, even though Seyðisfjörður is an amazingly cute little village and is supposed to have lots of great artsy shops, it's too rainy and windy to venture out. It looks like most things are closed anyway, due to the weather and being so late in the season. We'll drive around in the morning at least to see things before heading out.

Will's reward for being so good in the car all day!

Hidden Viking village.

Viking village.

Will and I walking in beautiful desolation.

I wanted to bring this gentleman home with me.

Lava meets ocean.

This photo makes me want to sell all of my worldly possessions
and hop on the next plane back to Iceland!

The drive to Seyðisfjörður.

Sheep on the beach

Seyðisfjörður -- I love you.

Our amazing hotel. I must go back sometime in my life. MUST.