south iceland: finishing our hike at vatnajökull national park and heading to vik

Monday, August 22:  The final section of our 5.5km loop hike at Vatnajökull National Park takes us around the traditional turf-roofed farmhouse of Sel.

Sel
Sel

The farm Sel in Skaftafell was built in 1912 and is a good example of the farms in this area until the middle of 1900.  Until 1974, the area was very isolated because of the glacier rivers on both sides.  Therefore the inhabitants had to provide themselves with whatever was needed.

These houses, for example, are built from driftwood collected from the coast.  The last residents in Sel were Ólöf Sigurðardóttir and her husband Runolfur Bjarnason, in 1946.  The farm is now under protection of the National Museum of Iceland.

The traditional turf-roofed farmhouse Sel
The traditional turf-roofed farmhouse Sel

From the vantage point at Sel, we can see the huge Skeiðarársandur stretching endlessly to the ocean.

Sel
Sel
Sel with the sandur backdrop
Sel with the sandur backdrop

I love this photo of an Icelandic horse standing on a slope with the sandur sprawled out behind and beneath him.

an Icelandic horse with the sandur behind
an Icelandic horse with the sandur behind
Skeiðarársandur
Skeiðarársandur
Sel
Sel
Sel
Sel

We go into the farmhouse where we find beds and a stove.  They’re no longer used today, but we can see how these hardy souls once lived.

We continue to follow the loop at Vatnajökull National Park, heading downhill all the way.

Sel
Sel
Sel
Sel
Sel
Sel
me in the backyard at Sel
me in the backyard at Sel
Mike at Sel
Mike at Sel

We cross a bridge over the river we had seen at the beginning of the hike and then get on the well-traveled trail.

finishing out hike at Vatnajökull National Park
finishing out hike at Vatnajökull National Park

Though it was tough climbing uphill at the beginning of the hike, I’m more wary heading downhill.  It’s very steep and gravelly, and since I’ve taken many a tumble on steep slopes covered in gravel, I proceed with caution.  Some areas luckily have rubber erosion matting, which helps me to keep my grip on the ground.

final views at Vatnajökull National Park
final views at Vatnajökull National Park

Below is a map of the national park.

the lay of the land
the lay of the land

I’m so happy to reach our car in the parking lot so I can finally sit down.  I’m exhausted.  Now we have a long drive ahead to Vik, where we’ll spend the night.

The Ring Road in this part of the country passes through some bizarre landscapes.  There is a vast desert-like plain of black volcanic sand with tufts of grasses, the Mýrdalssandur, where material from the Mýrdalsjökull glacier has been deposited.  Water from that glacier flows out to sea through this plain.

We also pass through an otherworldly landscape of rocks covered in a mossy brownish-green fuzz.  We get out to take a picture, and the wind is so strong it nearly lifts us up and carries us out to sea!

landscape east of Vik
landscape east of Vik
landscape east of Vik
landscape east of Vik

We pass through more endless sandy stretches with black rocks strewn haphazardly about.  Finally, after what seems like a drive to the furthest isolated reaches of the world, we arrive at the very nondescript Hotel Puffin, right in the center of Vik.  The wind is howling in this place!

Hotel Puffin is quite expensive and when we booked, the only room available was one with a terrace.  Though we had thoughts of sitting on a terrace having a glass of wine an overlooking a nice scene, we were on the first floor and overlooked a trashy looking building and a garbage bin.  No matter how we tried, we couldn’t get the terrace door open, so we finally gave up, knowing that it was too blustery and cold to use it anyway.

The rooms have an interesting volcanic pebble floor, which we haven’t seen in hotels elsewhere in Iceland.

our room at Hotel Puffin
our room at Hotel Puffin

After a bit of a rest, we head to dinner at Ströndin Bistro & Bar, which sits on the main road behind the N1 petrol station.  The place is packed.  Our waiter is Antonio, who hails from Germany but lived in New Zealand for 10 years;  he now lives here in Vik.  He is very helpful, trying to juggle a table of 10 and us; he seats us at the only empty table – for four – and asks if we would mind sharing a table with another couple; soon he brings a Swiss couple, Julie, a secretary for a law office, and Sebastian, a chemist.  They speak French, as well as perfect English.  They tell us that though some Swiss speak German, and they have studied German for 11 years, they still can’t speak it with other Swiss people. Because of the mountains separating communities, it’s easy to drive 100km and not be able to speak or understand the German spoken in the next town.

Sebastian and Julie at Ströndin Bistro
Sebastian and Julie at Ströndin Bistro

We so enjoy talking with these two.  We ask them their thoughts about Brexit and they think it is the beginning of the EU’s dissolution.  If Germany leaves, they say, it will fall apart.  Poor countries like France, Spain, Greece, and Portugal are pulling the rich northern countries down. The Swiss voted down a referendum for more vacation time and the French didn’t understand it, they tell us.  I love hearing the perspectives of people living in Europe just months before our looming election in November.

Our time here is the highlight of our day, a bit of warmth and social time to top off a long, cold and blustery day.  I enjoy a wonderful dinner of Plokkfiskur með rúgbrauði, Icelandic Cod stew with potatoes and onions, served with rye bread and butter.  Mike has Pönnusteikt Fagradalsbleikja með salati, bakaðri kartöflu og dillsinneps sósu, pan-fried Arctic char, served with baked potato, fresh salad and dill-mustard sauce.

Total steps today: 19,388 (8.22 miles).  Only two full days left in Iceland, sadly.

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southeast iceland: a hike to svartifoss & sjónarsker at vatnajökull national park

Monday, August 22:  After leaving the Interstellar scenes at Svínafellsjökull, we head further inland to the south end of Vatnajökull National Park, known as Skaftafell.  We had been in the north end of this huge park when we visited the waterfalls Dettifoss and Selfoss.  This is Europe’s largest protected reserve and was formed when the northern Jökulsárgljúfur National Park merged with Skaftafell National Park to the south in order “to protect the Vatnajökull ice cap and all its glacial run-off under one super-sized preserve,” according to Lonely Planet Iceland.

This area is Iceland’s most heavily touristed wilderness and apparently there are myriads of trails, both long and short, easy and difficult, here.  We’re aiming for a moderate hike, the 5.5km round trip hike from the visitor center to Svartifoss to Sjónarsker and finally to Sel, which I’ll cover in a different post.

As you can imagine, since we start at the bottom edge of the mountains, near the sprawling outwash plain of Skeiðarársandur, the hike is all uphill.

As we climb increasingly higher, we can see the sweeping Skeiðarársandur, the largest sandur in the world, which covers an area of 1,300 km2 (500 sq mi). It was formed by the “Skeiðarárjökull Glacier, a large outlet glacier draining south from Iceland’s largest ice cap Vatnajökull. This glacier is well-known for the massive glacier outburst floods, jökulhlaup, that are generated by Iceland’s most active volcano, Grímsvötn” (From a Glacier’s Perspective).

Vatnajökull National Park
Vatnajökull National Park

As I mentioned in a previous post, a sandur is the outwash plain of a glacier; silt, sand and gravel are scooped up from the mountains by the glacier, carried by glacial rivers or glacial bursts down to the coast, where they’re dumped in huge desert-like plains of gray-black sands and rocks (Lonely Planet Iceland).  Skeiðarársandur is the prototype sandur for which all other sandurs are named.

Vatnajökull National Park with Skeiðarársandur in the background
Vatnajökull National Park with Skeiðarársandur in the background

As we climb, we see a river that flows into the sandur.

the river leading to Skeiðarársandur
the river leading to Skeiðarársandur
Vatnajökull National Park with Skeiðarársandur in the background
Vatnajökull National Park with Skeiðarársandur in the background

We continue our climb along a canyon until we get a glimpse of a minor waterfall, Hundafoss.

the gorge downstream from Hundafoss
the gorge downstream from Hundafoss
Hundafoss
Hundafoss
Hundafoss
Hundafoss

As we continue up, we can see the tips of other mountain peaks in the distance.

Climbing through Vatnajökull National Park to Svartifoss
Climbing through Vatnajökull National Park to Svartifoss

And of course, to the south, we can still see the immense sandur.

Climbing through Vatnajökull National Park to Svartifoss
Climbing through Vatnajökull National Park to Svartifoss
Climbing through Vatnajökull National Park to Svartifoss
Climbing through Vatnajökull National Park to Svartifoss
Svartifoss
the river leading to Skeiðarársandur

Finally, we reach a point where we get our first glimpse of Svartifoss, or Black Falls.

Svartifoss
Svartifoss
Svartifoss
Svartifoss
Svartifoss
Svartifoss

As we get close to the falls, we are bowled over by the geometric black basalt columns that flank the waterfall like ominous soldiers.  These columns are similar to those seen at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, and the island of Staffa in Scotland (Wikipedia: Svartifoss).

Svartifoss
Svartifoss
me at Svartifoss
me at Svartifoss
walls at Svartifoss
walls at Svartifoss
Svartifoss
Svartifoss
Svartifoss
Svartifoss

After hanging out a bit at the waterfall, we cross a footbridge downstream from the waterfall, where we continue climbing to Sjónarsker.

Mike at Svartifoss
Mike at Svartifoss
Vatnajökull National Park with Skeiðarársandur in the background
Vatnajökull National Park with Skeiðarársandur in the background

It’s exhausting, all this uphill climbing, but we’re rewarded at the top by magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and Skeiðarársandur.  Many people continue longer hikes from here, but we’re not geared up to do such a thing.  Not to mention that it’s awfully windy and cold up here at these heights!

the view from Sjónarsker
the view from Sjónarsker
Sjónarsker
Sjónarsker
view from Sjónarsker
view from Sjónarsker
view from Sjónarsker
view from Sjónarsker
view from Sjónarsker
view from Sjónarsker
view from Sjónarsker
view from Sjónarsker
view from Sjónarsker
view from Sjónarsker
view from Sjónarsker
view from Sjónarsker
view from Sjónarsker
view from Sjónarsker
me at Sjónarsker
me at Sjónarsker
Mike at Sjónarsker
Mike at Sjónarsker

We can even see another glacier tongue to our west.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
view from Sjónarsker to another glacier tongue

Of course, we have amazing views of Skeiðarársandur with the river snaking out to the North Atlantic Ocean.  It’s so immense that it boggles the mind.

view from Sjónarsker to Skeiðarársandur
view from Sjónarsker to Skeiðarársandur

From here, we get to walk downhill, thank goodness, to visit the traditional turf-roofed farmhouse, Sel.  By now, I’m pretty exhausted from all our walking today!

north iceland: dettifoss & selfoss to seyðisfjörður

Thursday, August 18:  We get back on the Ring Road after leaving Leirhnjúkur and then take one more detour, on Rt. 862, north for 24km on a sealed road. The landscape is as barren and desolate as any we’ve seen so far in Iceland. We’re heading toward the south end of Vatnajökull National Park.  There we’ll see the powerful Dettifoss, a waterfall known as having the greatest volume of any waterfall in Europe.

As we’re driving up this sealed road to the north, we can’t imagine where on earth a waterfall will emerge. It’s as flat as can be as far as the eye can see.

the long barren walk to Dettifoss
the long barren walk to Dettifoss

We finally arrive at a parking lot and see the footpath toward Dettifoss.  It’s a 2.5km loop walk to the canyon-edge view of Dettifoss and the smaller cataract, Selfoss.  We wonder if we have the energy to do this entire walk, as we’ve already walked our fool legs off today!  We decide we’ll just walk to Dettifoss and then see if we feel like following the loop to Selfoss.

The walk is as barren as the rest of the surrounding landscape.

the walk to Dettifoss
the walk to Dettifoss

After quite a walk, we finally reach the west edge of Dettifoss.  The roar of the 193 cubic meters of muddy water per second tumbling over the 44m high and 100m wide cliff is enough to take our breath away.  We can feel the immense power of this waterfall.

Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss

We’re lucky it’s a sunny day, because we can see rainbows over the canyon downstream from the waterfall, as well as directly over the waterfall.

rainbow at Dettifoss
rainbow at Dettifoss
rainbow at Dettifoss
rainbow at Dettifoss

The pathways down to the edge of the waterfall meander through a carpet of green, the only green to be seen for miles in any direction.

Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss
the great and powerful Dettifoss
the great and powerful Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss
rainbow downstream from Dettifoss
rainbow downstream from Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss
Dettifoss

What a spectacular waterfall Dettifoss is!  We walk around on all the paths and see the waterfall from every angle.

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I love the blue skies dotted with gray-bellied clouds and the rainbows that shimmer in the mist and sunlight.

Dettifoss & rainbow
Dettifoss & rainbow

We’re so impressed by Dettifoss that we don’t want to leave the area.  We decide to continue on the loop to the smaller waterfall Selfoss.  We return to the trail through the rocky landscape.

the walk to Selfoss
the walk to Selfoss
the barren walk to Selfoss
the barren walk to Selfoss

We get our first glimpse of Selfoss.  Poor neglected Selfoss, which in any other place would be considered a major waterfall, is as pretty as any waterfall can be.

first glimpse of Selfoss
first glimpse of Selfoss

I suppose next to Dettifoss it isn’t much, but it’s quite beautiful in its own right.

Selfoss
Selfoss
Selfoss
Selfoss
me at Selfoss
me at Selfoss
Mike at Selfoss
Mike at Selfoss

I love the character and beauty of Selfoss more than the powerful, almost bullying, Dettifoss.

the fabulous Selfoss
the fabulous Selfoss

By this time, it’s nearly 5:00 and we still have to walk back to the parking lot, drive back to the Ring Road, and continue our drive to Seyðisfjörður where we’ve booked our hotel for the night.  We still have a long drive ahead. Once we return to the Ring Road, we hardly make any more stops, as it’s impossible to do so.  We go through nearly 100km of absolutely nothing, very little vegetation, no houses, no civilization of any kind.  The road is raised and there are few pullouts, so we can’t even stop to take pictures, which I’m sure is a relief to Mike who is awfully tired of me asking him to pull off at every opportunity.

I have some of my most stellar and lucid moments on this drive; I like to think it’s because I’m exhausted.  I don’t know if my mind stops working because I’m tired, distracted, or just getting old. 🙂  At one point, I see a waterfall and I blurt out, “There’s a watermelon!”  Later, some other tourists are taking pictures out of their car and Mike says, “It’s too dark to take a picture!”  At the same time, I say, “It’s too dark to take a people!”  We have a lot of laughs over my ridiculous blurts.

As we get closer to the Eastfjords, we come to a long area of unpaved gravel road, maybe 20km altogether.  As we get closer to the east, we start to see more green farmland, hills dotted with rotund sheep, and trees with silver-backed leaves that glimmer in the sunlight.

We finally reach civilization at Egilsstaðir, a town on the banks of the Lagarfljót river.  From here, we still have to drive east on Route 93 for about 17 miles, but it’s a slow drive over a mountain and down into the town that sits prettily on the fjord of the same name.  We check into our hotel, the Hotel Snæfell, at its sister hotel, Hotel Aldan, where we’ll also have breakfast in the morning.  By this time, it’s 8:30 pm and we’re starved, especially after the almost 10 miles of walking we did today, plus over 200 miles of driving. We head straight for the Skaftfell Exhibition Gallery & Bistro for dinner.  At the bistro, the late artist Dieter Roth’s book works are on display along with other interesting art books and book art.

Mike enjoys a Baldi lager while I stick with an Einstök Icelandic Pale Ale.

Mike at Skaftell Exhibition Gallery & Bistro
Mike at Skaftfell Exhibition Gallery & Bistro

Our dinner here is delicious; I have cod with risotto and arugula and Mike orders a Skaftfell pizza with minced beef, bacon and onions.

Cod with risotto & arugula
Cod with risotto & arugula
Skaftell Pizza - minced beef, bacon and onions
Skaftfell Pizza – minced beef, bacon and onions

We head back to the Hotel Snæfell, where we’ll be staying for the next two nights, and are disappointed to find our room is impossibly tiny.  It does have its own bathroom however, which several of our hotels don’t have.  However, for $166/night, I think it’s over the top!

the smallest room imaginable at Hotel Snæfell
the smallest room imaginable at Hotel Snæfell

We’re pretty exhausted after our long day today, so we don’t have much trouble falling asleep.  Tomorrow, we look forward to exploring the area around Seyðisfjörður.

Total steps today: 22,463, or 9.52 miles.  Yikes!  It’s no wonder that Mike is starting to come down with a cough and a cold.

north iceland: the black lava field & solfataras of leirhnjúkur at krafla

Thursday, August 18:  After leaving Dimmuborgir in Eastern Mývatn, we drive to our next destination in the Krafla volcanic region, which encompasses an 818m-high, 10km wide caldera and a geothermal power station.  We plan to walk through Leirhnjúkur, a black lava field and its solfataras, within Krafla. Solfataras are volcanic areas or vents that yield only hot vapors and sulfurous gases.

On our way, we pass the Krafla Power Station. Built by the Icelandic government, construction began with trial boreholes in 1974; the first turbine unit started up in August 1977, and regular operations began in February 1978. Krafla came under the ownership of Landsvirkjun, the National Power Company, in 1985 (Landsvirkjun).

Approaching Leirhnjúkur by car
Approaching Leirhnjúkur by car

The name Krafla also refers to the fires that erupted on and off in the period 1975-84. The events were a striking repetition of what happened during the Mývatn fires which occurred between 1724–1729, when many of the fissure vents opened up. Fissure vents are linear ruptures through which lava erupts, usually without any explosive eruptions.

A collapsed, but still active, volcanic area, Krafla has recorded 29 eruptions, the most recent of which were the Krafla Fires.  In the 1975-1984 period, nine volcanic eruptions and fifteen uplift and subsidence (downward motion of the earth’s surface relative to sea level) events were recorded (Wikipedia: Krafla).

It’s a 20 minute walk through moss-covered lava that originated from the 18th century Mývatn fires.  The landscape is fascinating with its carpeted boulders of lava.

The strange landscape of Leirhnjúkur
The strange landscape of Leirhnjúkur
The strange landscape of Leirhnjúkur
The strange landscape of Leirhnjúkur
The strange landscape of Leirhnjúkur
The strange landscape of Leirhnjúkur
The strange landscape of Leirhnjúkur
The strange landscape of Leirhnjúkur

To our east, we can see the crater Viti.  This 300m-wide explosion crater was formed in 1724 at the beginning of the Mývatn fires.  We originally plan to walk around the rim of this crater, but our walk around Leirhnjúkur is so long and time-consuming that we don’t have time to do it.

walking to Leirhnjúkur
Viti
Leirhnjúkur
Viti
Leirhnjúkur
Viti

To our west we can see Leirhnjúkur, a rhyolite formation 593 meters above sea level.  The hill rises less than 50 meters above the surrounding lava field.  The rhyolite of the hill is porous due to the geothermal heat and has in several places turned into clay, hence the name Leirhnjúkur — “clay hill.”

Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur

After our long walk across the lava field, we are finally in the midst of the craters, steaming vents and fissures of Leirhnjúkur.

Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur

There are warnings about the danger of this area, as it’s still active and there are many hot spots.  We stay on the relatively safe marked trails, including many wooden walkways, around the field, crossing older lava covered in vegetation before climbing onto the darker, rougher new material.  Stains of red or purple mark iron and potash deposits, while white or yellow patches indicate live steam vents to be avoided (Rough Guides: Leirhnjúkur).

Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur

Several mud-pits and steam vents are located on the northern slopes of Leirhnjúkur.

thermal pools at Leirhnjúkur
thermal pools at Leirhnjúkur
thermal pools
thermal pools
thermal pools
thermal pools
Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur
the solidified lavafields of Leirhnjúkur
the solidified lava fields of Leirhnjúkur

The magma boasts a full spectrum of colors, with the greens of moss and lichen next to the scorched earth colors of sulphur and rhyolite (Visit Húsavík: Krafla Caldera).

Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur
the solidified lavafields of Leirhnjúkur
the solidified lava fields of Leirhnjúkur

When we get to a high viewpoint, we can see Gjástykki, where the main area of activity was during the 1980s.  It’s a black swathe between light green hills, amazing in its scope.

the solidified lavafields of Leirhnjúkur
the solidified lava fields of Leirhnjúkur
the solidified lavafields of Leirhnjúkur
the solidified lava fields of Leirhnjúkur
the solidified lavafields of Leirhnjúkur
the solidified lava fields of Leirhnjúkur
the solidified lavafields of Leirhnjúkur
the solidified lava fields of Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur
Leirhnjúkur
Gjástykki
img_1824
Me and the extensive lava fields
Leirhnjúkur
Gjástykki
Leirhnjúkur
Gjástykki

This is our third walk of the day, and it’s a long one!  By the time we finish, it’s after 3:00 and we still have to visit the mighty waterfall of Dettifoss, at the southern end of Jökulsárgljúfur and then drive a long haul to the eastern town of Seyðisfjörður.  Already my legs are aching. 🙂

north iceland: mývatn to the dimmuborgir lavafeld

Thursday, August 18:  We leave Goðafoss around 10:45 a.m. and we’re on our way to our next stop, Mývatn.  We pass another pretty but nondescript lake along the way, and within a half hour, we’re at shallow Mývatn, a lake that sits in an area of active volcanism in the north of Iceland, not far from Krafla volcano.

A lake somewhere between Goðafoss and Mývatn
A lake somewhere between Goðafoss and Mývatn

Route 1 takes us to the southwest corner of Mývatn, where the icy swift-running Laxá (Salmon River) flows away from the lake.  The scenery here is magnificent.

Mývatn
Mývatn

In the distance, we can see the iconic Vindbelgjarfjall, a 529-meter mountain on Lake Mývatn’s western shore.  Its formation dates back to the Ice Age and is part of Krafla volcanic system.  Supposedly this mountain offers fantastic views across the lake, but we have many other walks planned today and opt not to do this one.

Mývatn
Mývatn

The skies are so blue and the air so clear that I’m in heaven.  I love nothing better than this kind of weather, with breezy temperatures in the high 50s and no humidity.

Mývatn
The Laxá

The Laxá is known for its brown trout and Atlantic salmon fishing.

Mývatn
The Laxá

We spend quite a bit of time walking on the shores of the turbulent Laxá.

Mývatn
The Laxá
Mývatn
The Laxá

We stop near Vindbelgjarfjall, where we’re attacked by the midges, or swarms of small flies.  Mývatn’s name translates as “lake of midges;” we have our only experience of them at our brief stop, thank goodness.

Vindbelgjarfjall
Vindbelgjarfjall
Vindbelgjarfjall
Vindbelgjarfjall

We continue up the western side of Mývatn to the small town of Reykjahlíð on the lake’s northeast corner. With its 300 inhabitants and a smattering of guesthouses and hotels, the town serves as the base for the area but doesn’t have much to see other than Reykjahlíðarkirkja, the Reykjahlíð Church.

Reykjahlíðarkirkja
Reykjahlíðarkirkja

At the end of a 2-year period of Krafla volcanic eruptions from 1727-1729, the Leirhnjúkur crater sent lava flowing toward the lakeshore, destroying farms and buildings in its path but miraculously parting before the church and sparing it from destruction.  Rebuilt on its original foundation in 1876, the church was built again in 1962.

Reykjahlíðarkirkja
Reykjahlíðarkirkja
inside Reykjahlíðarkirkja
inside Reykjahlíðarkirkja
cemetery at Reykjahlíðarkirkja
cemetery at Reykjahlíðarkirkja
Reykjahlíðarkirkja
Reykjahlíðarkirkja
Reykjahlíðarkirkja
Reykjahlíðarkirkja
Reykjahlíðarkirkja
Reykjahlíðarkirkja

Mývatn Lake was created by a large basaltic lava eruption 2300 years ago, and the surrounding landscape is dominated by volcanic landforms, including lava pillars and pseudocraters. We take a hike in the giant Dimmuborgir (“Dark Castles”) lava field, on the eastern side of the lake.  We follow the Church Circle path, which is 2.3km but seems longer!

Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir was created about 2300 years ago during an extensive volcanic eruption. Tremendous rivers of lava flowed from a 12km-long fissure south of Hverfjall (Hverfell) and running through Laxárdalur and Aðaldalur valleys all the way down to the sea.

Geologists believe that during this eruption something blocked the flow of lava causing a lake of lava to form. As the lava in the lake had started to solidify, the blockage gave way and the molten lava flowed out leaving behind the parts which had solidified. These conditions created fantastical geological formations. (Edge of the Arctic: Dimmuborgir).

Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir

We walk the Church Circle path through Dimmuborgir, marveling at all the unusual lava formations, caves, and arches.

Click on any of the photos below for a full-sized slide show.

I get quite warm and feel like we might be lost because the walk seems to be taking longer than it should.

me at Dimmuborgir
me at Dimmuborgir

I love the heather and colorful flora found throughout the lava field.

Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir
img_1014
Dimmuborgir

At several points, Mike argues that we seem to be circling around to the same place we were before, but I feel certain each new lay of the land is different from the ones we’ve passed through already. I tell him we need to keep proceeding on. It turns out I’m right. 🙂

Mike at Dimmuborgir
Mike at Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir

Finally we reach a vantage point where we can see the lake and the parking lot, so we know we’re going in the right direction.

Dimmuborgir
Dimmuborgir

After we finish our walk at around 1:30, we hop in the car to head to Leirhnjúkur, part of the Krafla caldera. Its last eruption was from 1975 to 1984.

north iceland: akureyri to goðafoss waterfall

Thursday, August 18: This morning we enjoy a fabulous breakfast at the Lamb Inn and then soak in our parting views of the valley and the farm before heading east on the Ring Road.

parting view from the Lamb Inn
parting view from the Lamb Inn
The Lamb Inn - final view :-(
The Lamb Inn – final view 😦

Before we leave Akureyri, we stop at the road that crosses Eyjafjörður at its tip and look at the view toward the south, where we stayed the last two nights.  Then we’re back on the Ring Road heading toward Seyðisfjörður in East Iceland.  We have a 182 mile drive ahead of us with multiple stops planned along the way.

Eyjafjörður at Akureyri
Eyjafjörður at Akureyri
a valley in north Iceland
a valley in north Iceland
a pretty river
a pretty river

Our first stop is Goðafoss, which means Waterfall of the Gods.  Though not the largest or most powerful of Iceland’s waterfalls, it is one of the most beautiful, flowing over a horseshoe-shaped ledge in two main chutes and one smaller one with numerous vantage points.  It is part of the river Skjálfandafljót, which runs through the ~7,000-year-old Bárðardalur lava field in Northeast Iceland.

first view of Goðafoss
first view of Goðafoss
Looking downstream at Goðafoss
Looking downstream at Goðafoss

Goðafoss played an important role in Icelandic history.  At the Alþingi, or National Assembly, in the year 1000, lawspeaker Þorgeir Þorkelsson had the job of settling the growing disputes between Christians and those who worshiped the old Nordic gods.  After 24 hours meditation, he declared Iceland would be a Christian nation.

Legend has it that on his return home past the waterfall near his farm, he dispensed of his pagan gods by throwing them into the falls in a symbolic act of the conversion. This, according to the legend, is how Goðafoss got its name.

Goðafoss
Goðafoss

We climb around on the ledges bordering the west side of the waterfall and then clamber above the waterfall.

Goðafoss
Goðafoss
Goðafoss
Goðafoss
Goðafoss
Goðafoss
Goðafoss
Goðafoss
Goðafoss
Goðafoss
above Goðafoss
above Goðafoss

Then we take the path to the bridge downstream from the waterfall and walk up the east side of the river.

crossing the bridge downstream from Goðafoss
crossing the bridge downstream from Goðafoss
walking up the east side of Goðafoss
walking up the east side of Goðafoss

It’s a spectacular day out, cool and breezy and sunny, and we have fun exploring both sides of this amazing waterfall.

east walkway at Goðafoss
east walkway at Goðafoss
downstream from Goðafoss
downstream from Goðafoss
downstream from Goðafoss
downstream from Goðafoss
bridge downstream from Goðafoss
bridge downstream from Goðafoss

The skies and the clouds are simply spectacular.

canyon downstream from Goðafoss
canyon downstream from Goðafoss
bridge downstream from Goðafoss
bridge downstream from Goðafoss
mini-waterfall at Goðafoss
mini-waterfall at Goðafoss
eastern viewpoint at Goðafoss
eastern viewpoint at Goðafoss
eastern viewpoint at Goðafoss
eastern viewpoint at Goðafoss

The eastern side of the waterfall is less crowded as the path is further from the parking lot.  On this side, we’re thrilled to find a rainbow rising out of the mist.

Goðafoss
Goðafoss
Goðafoss
rainbow at Goðafoss
Goðafoss
rainbow at Goðafoss
Mike at Goðafoss
Mike at Goðafoss
me at Goðafoss
me at Goðafoss

Finally, we visit the service center Fosshóll, close to Goðafoss, where we get drinks and snacks, use the facilities, and head further along the Ring Road to the Mývatn region.

an Icelandic lady at the tourist shop :-)
an Icelandic lady at the tourist shop 🙂

 

north iceland: whale-watching with arctic sea tours in dalvík

Wednesday, August 17:  We arrive back at the town of Dalvík, a village on the western shore of Eyjafjörður in the valley of Svarfaðardalur, just in time for our 3:00 whale watching trip with Arctic Sea Tours.

As soon as we check in, we’re given arctic suits and told to hop into them.  It’s actually getting quite warm this afternoon, so it’s too hot to be wearing these suits.  Many people keep the tops unzipped and folded down over their behinds.

Mike in an Arctic suit :-)
Mike in an Arctic suit 🙂
me in my Arctic suit
me in my Arctic suit

When everyone has arrived, we all march down to the marina to board the boat.  The marina with its backdrop of snow-capped peaks is charming and picturesque.

marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík
marina in Dalvík

We aren’t going out into the Greenland Sea but will stay in Iceland’s longest fjord, Eyjafjörður, measuring 60km from head to mouth.  The tour is for 3 hours.

The fjord is surrounded by hills and mountains on both sides; the mountains are taller on the west side.  The mountains pictured below on are the east side.

Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður

Freyr Antonsson is the man in charge.  After we’re underway, he shows us photos of the creatures we might encounter, especially the great humpback whale, white-beaked dolphins, minke whales, small harbor porpoises and possibly even the majestic blue whale.  Today, we’ll see only humpback whales and harbor porpoises.

our boat captain from Arctic Sea Tours
our boat captain from Arctic Sea Tours
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður

Even though it was warm on land, it’s quite cold and windy out on the fjord.  Luckily we’re bundled up in our Arctic suits and winter hats.

Aboard Draumur
Aboard Draumur

We can see the tip of the island of Hrísey in the middle of Eyjafjörður.  It is the second largest island off the coast of Iceland and is often referred to as “The Pearl of Eyjafjörður.” It has a population of approximately 120 people and has been continuously inhabited since the Settlement of Iceland (Wikipedia: Hrísey).

Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður

We can see the western mountains on Tröllaskagi, the “Troll peninsula.”

Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
cloud artistry over Eyjafjörður

The mountains surrounding the fjord are treeless and capped with snow.

As we approach the mouth of the fjord near the Greenland Sea, we start to see some humpback whales.  Their backs rise out of the water and we can sometimes catch a glimpse of their tails before they submerge again.  When they’re just under the surface of the water, we can see a flat area in the water with bubbles rising.

glimpses of whales in Eyjafjörður
glimpses of whales in Eyjafjörður
boat and gulls on Eyjafjörður
boat and gulls on Eyjafjörður
boat on Eyjafjörður
boat on Eyjafjörður

Sometimes when they surface, their backs are just slightly above water, but other times, they curve out of the water in a nice hump.

humpback whale
humpback whale
humpback whale
humpback whale
humpback whale
humpback whale
humpback whale
humpback whale

I’m excited to finally capture one decent tail picture.  It’s very difficult to capture the whales on camera as you have to be looking at the sea in the exact spot where they rise up unexpectedly and you have to have your camera ready to shoot.  Often, they are simply too far away to get a decent picture.

humpback whale
humpback whale

During the trip, the crew hands out hot chocolate and cookies for a warming-up snack.

Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
glimpses of whales
glimpses of whales
whale spottings
whale spottings
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður

As we head back to Dalvík, the crew passes out fishing poles all around and people toss their lines overboard.  It’s amazing how quickly they start to pull in fish.  Different people on board pull up cod and three other types of fish.  This young man catches a big one!

A catch!
A catch!

Mike even tries his hand at fishing but doesn’t catch anything.

Mike goes fishing
Mike goes fishing

The captain cleans all the fish on board, tossing the heads and entrails overboard, while seagulls flap along overhead hoping to catch some scraps.

Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður

We arrive back at the marina and head back to the Arctic Sea Tours office.

Dalvík marina
Dalvík marina

Click on any of the pictures below for a full-sized slide show.

Back at the Arctic Sea Tours office, Freyr Antonsson fires up the grill and barbecues the fish we caught and he cleaned.  We each get a small portion of the various fish cooked with a butter spice topping.

our captain cooks up our fish catch
our captain cooks up our fish catch

After enjoying our snack, we get on the road back to Akureyri and the Lamb Inn.  At the inn, we soak for a while in a hot tub behind the inn and talk with a couple from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Ray and Marybeth, who are enjoying their holiday in Iceland.  They are quite the talkers. 🙂

We have 8:00 dinner reservations at the Lamb Inn and we find our dinner to be one of the best we have in Iceland.  I order traditional fish gratin (made with cod) “dressed up” with butter and rye bread.  It’s delicious!

Traditional fish gratin "dressed up" with butter and rye bread
Traditional fish gratin “dressed up” with butter and rye bread

Mike’s meal of slow cooked lamb shank with chives, mashed potatoes and wild mushroom sauce is also wonderful, and I’m not generally much of a meat eater.

Slow cooked lamb shank with chives, mashed potatoes and wild mushroom sauce
Slow cooked lamb shank with chives, mashed potatoes and wild mushroom sauce

We’ve had a busy day with our drive all around Tröllaskagi, our hike around and above Siglufjörður, and our whale-watching tour.  Tomorrow we’ll sadly have to leave Akureyri for the east of Iceland.  We should definitely have planned more time for our trip.

Today’s steps: 12,650, or 5.36 miles. 🙂

north iceland: a hike along the avalanche wall above siglufjörður

Wednesday, August 17:  A woman at the tourist information/library suggests that we can take a hike along the avalanche-repelling fence backing up the town of Siglufjörður by looking for the 1936 house and then following the trail up. We find the house and begin our hike.

Starting the hike at the 1936 house
Starting the hike at the 1936 house

The mountain with its shored-up slopes looms above, along with a waterfall near the house.

waterfall beside the 1936 house
waterfall beside the 1936 house

Once we start walking along the ridge of the avalanche wall, we can see the pretty little town below.

looking down on Siglufjörður
looking down on Siglufjörður
Mike walking the path above Siglufjörður
Mike walking the path above Siglufjörður

Looking north, we can see the opening of the fjord to the Greenland Sea.

view of Siglufjörður and the fjord
view of Siglufjörður and the fjord
Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður

As the sun is out and it’s warming up a bit, I can finally walk without multiple layers and jacket.

me above Siglufjörður
me above Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður

It takes a while to figure out how to get from the avalanche wall to the mountainside, and we actually have to backtrack and go down the steep wall on the town side to go around the end of the wall. Then we hike up and up, looking at the backside of the wall.

the avalanche walls of Siglufjörður
the avalanche walls of Siglufjörður
the path above the avalanche walls
the path above the avalanche walls
looking up
looking up
the avalanche walls and Siglufjörður
the avalanche walls and Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður and its avalanche walls
Siglufjörður and its avalanche walls
shoring up the mountains
shoring up the mountains
the path back down
the path back down

We meet up with an Austrian hiker who has a lot more time than we do.  We’ve determined that we can walk as far up as we can go until 1:00, at which time we need to turn around to walk back down and drive back to Dalvík for our 3:00 whale-watching tour.  The Austrian hiker parts ways with us at 1:00 to follow some of the 19km of marked paths above the avalanche-repelling fence and above the town.  You can see him walking up the mountain in the photo below.

a stranger goes off into the wild
a stranger goes off into the wild
Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður

We make our way back down the mountain.

walking back down to Siglufjörður
walking back down to Siglufjörður
the fjord
the fjord

Back in town, we make a quick stop to walk around the marina and the brightly-colored cafes.

marina at Siglufjörður
marina at Siglufjörður
marina at Siglufjörður
marina at Siglufjörður
marina at Siglufjörður
marina at Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður marina
Siglufjörður marina
brightly colored cafes near the marina
brightly colored cafes near the marina
brightly colored cafes near the marina
brightly colored cafes near the marina
marina at brightly colored cafes near the marina
marina at brightly colored cafes near the marina

And then we’re on our way to Dalvík. 🙂

 

north iceland: a day trip to siglufjörður on tröllaskagi, the troll peninsula

Wednesday, August 17:  This morning, we enjoy an excellent breakfast at the Lamb Inn, and then brace ourselves as we head out into overcast skies and spitting rain. We’re heading up Tröllaskagi, or the Troll Peninsula, which lies between Eyjafjörður, the longest fjord in Iceland, and Skagafjörður, a deep bay in northwestern Iceland.  The peninsula is mountainous, with several peaks at 1,000 meters above sea level; this part of the country has the highest elevation outside of the central highlands.  Sparsely populated, residents here base their livelihoods on agriculture or fisheries.

Our first stop is the sleepy town of Dalvík.  We catch views of the snow-capped mountains to the south of town and then head into town where we book a 3:00 3-hour whale-watching tour with Arctic Sea Tours.  As it’s not even 10:00, we should have plenty of time to explore the northernmost tip of the peninsula at Siglufjörður.

south of Dalvík
south of Dalvík
south of Dalvík
south of Dalvík
south of Dalvík
south of Dalvík
red and orange house in Dalvík
red and orange house in Dalvík
Dalvík
Dalvík
Dalvík
Dalvík
cattle drive near Dalvík
cattle drive near Dalvík
cattle near Dalvík
cattle near Dalvík
an Icelandic woman drives the cattle near Dalvík
an Icelandic woman drives the cattle near Dalvík
a seafaring memorial
a seafaring memorial
farmland on Tröllaskagi
farmland on Tröllaskagi
farmland on Tröllaskagi
farmland on Tröllaskagi
farmland on Tröllaskagi
farmland on Tröllaskagi

Three tunnels connect Dalvík, Ólafsfjörður and Siglufjörður.  The first we encounter north of Dalvík and is a 3.4km one-way rock-solid tunnel.   We see there are pullovers on the right side of the tunnel, about every 170 meters. We’re not exactly sure who has the right of way, but as we approach another car’s headlights, we see they pull off into the pull-off on our side of the road.  We find out later that we should have been the ones to pull off, as the southbound cars have the right of way.  We finally figure this out in time for our next encounter; luckily we only meet a few cars in the tunnel.  The map below shows the fjords, the towns and the tunnels.

Tröllaskagi
Tröllaskagi

After the 3.4km tunnel, we emerge into the isolated and mountain-locked town of Ólafsfjörður.  All we do in this town is to stop at a gas station to get drinks and use the bathroom.  We see some downhill ski slopes above the town as well as a pretty little cemetery.

cemetery in Ólafsfjörður
cemetery in Ólafsfjörður
cemetery in Ólafsfjörður
cemetery in Ólafsfjörður
cemetery in Ólafsfjörður
cemetery in Ólafsfjörður

The next tunnel is a 7km two-way tunnel.  It seems to last forever.  We emerge from this tunnel at Héðinsfjörður, a nearly 6km-long deserted fjord at the northernmost point of Tröllaskagi before Siglufjörður. Here we stop to breathe some fresh air and recover from being under a mountain for 7km!

view of Héðinsfjörður - a stop between tunnels
view of Héðinsfjörður – a stop between tunnels

Below is the tunnel under the mountain from Ólafsfjörður to Héðinsfjörður.

tunnel from Ólafsfjörður to
tunnel from Ólafsfjörður to Héðinsfjörður
the mountains near Héðinsfjörður
the mountains near Héðinsfjörður
mountains near Héðinsfjörður
mountains near Héðinsfjörður

In the picture below is the tunnel from Héðinsfjörður to Siglufjörður.  This two-way tunnel is 4km long.  These tunnels were opened in 2010 and improved the living conditions of the people of Siglufjörður immensely.

tunnel from Héðinsfjörður to
tunnel from Héðinsfjörður to Siglufjörður

We emerge above the pretty little town of Siglufjörður, called Siglo by the locals.  We stop at a lookout in a stand of pine trees.

first view of Siglufjörður
first view of Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður
Trees - a rare sight in Iceland
Trees – a rare sight in Iceland

Further down the hill, we stop at a pretty little cemetery with white crosses.  Finally, we’re starting to see some glimpses of blue sky.

cemetery on the edge of Siglufjörður
cemetery on the edge of Siglufjörður
cemetery on the edge of Siglufjörður
cemetery on the edge of Siglufjörður
cemetery on the edge of Siglufjörður
cemetery on the edge of Siglufjörður

We wander around the picturesque marina at Siglufjörður for some time.  It’s turning into a beautiful day!

harbor at Siglufjörður
harbor at Siglufjörður

Siglufjörður is an excellent natural harbor with good fishing grounds. Fishing and fish production have always been the most important way of living.  Because of the high and treacherous mountains of Tröllaskagi surrounding the fjord, transportation has always been difficult and often dangerous.  The first road to the community opened in 1946, providing a summer passage.  In 1967 a road opened along the north coast through an 800m-long tunnel.  Due to land characteristics and avalanche threat, this road is dangerous and often closed in winter.

Siglufjörður's harbor
Siglufjörður’s harbor

Siglufjörður had  3,000 residents during the herring era, which ended suddenly in 1968.  In 2010, the population in Siglufjörður was 1214 and in Ólafsfjörður was 852.

orange boat in the harbor
orange boat in the harbor
Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður
img_0971
Orange boat in the marina
img_0972
The Dalvik

We stroll around outside the Herring Era Museum, but we decide we’d rather go on a hike above the town rather than spend time in the museum.  The museum opened in 1994 to tell the story of herring catching and processing in Iceland.  The three buildings of the museum were part of an old Norwegian herring station, according to Lonely Planet Iceland.

The herring adventure started in 1903 under Norwegian initiative. Within 40 years, this previously sparsely populated village was transformed into a thriving town of more than 3,000 inhabitants.  Until 1968, when the herring disappeared, the entire work and life of the people of Siglufjörður centered around the herring catch and its processing with 23 salting stations and five smelting factories in the fjord.

Herring Era Museum
Herring Era Museum

Siglufjörður was also one of the most important ports in Iceland and on more than one occasion, the herring exported from the town accounted for more than 20% of the nation’s total exports.  With its booming industry, Siglufjörður also became attractive to tens of thousands of workers seeking employment.

Siglufjörður
Siglufjörður

In bad weather, the sheltered waters of the fjord became home to a massed fleet of hundreds of international herring ships.  The streets of Siglufjörður were so crowded, colorful and active that they resembled the teeming avenues of major world cities, according to a sign near the village.

Herring Era Museum
Herring Era Museum
Herring Era Museum
Herring Era Museum
Herring Era Museum
Herring Era Museum

We stop in at the local library/tourist information to find out about hikes near Siglufjörður.

the library in Siglufjörður
the library in Siglufjörður

We find there is a hike that goes above the town, so we decide to spend some time walking under the rare blue skies after we eat our lunch of bread, cheese and cookies at a picnic area along the fjord.

 

 

 

north iceland: akureyri

Tuesday, August 16:  We arrive at Lamb Inn Öngulsstadir at around 7:00 pm.  We immediately fall in love with its idyllic setting in the valley at the end of Iceland’s longest fjord, Eyjafjörður.

View from the Lamb Inn
View from the Lamb Inn
Sheets to the wind
Sheets to the wind

The Lamb Inn is set on a former farm and the family still lives adjacent to the property.

Farmhouse at the Lamb Inn
Farmhouse at the Lamb Inn
Farmhouse at the Lamb Inn
Farmhouse at the Lamb Inn

Mike finds a Border Collie that reminds him of our dog, Bailey.

Mike with a Border Collie at the Lamb Inn
Mike with a Border Collie at the Lamb Inn

After settling in, we drive into the town of Akureyri, Iceland’s second urban area after the Capital Region, and the fourth largest municipality.  It would be considered a small town by most standards, with a population slightly over 18,000.  Known as the Capital of North Iceland, it’s an important port and fishing center.

Akureyri
Akureyri

We are debating between eating at Rub 23 or Strikið.  We opt for the latter.  But first we take a short stroll around the town.

Rub 23 in Akureyri
Rub 23 in Akureyri

Akureyrarkirkja, or The Church of Akureyri, is a prominent Lutheran church that towers over the center of the city.  It was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, the State Architect of Iceland, and completed in 1940.

Akureyrarkirkja
Akureyrarkirkja

Walking down from the hill, we can see the harbor at the end of Iceland’s longest fjord, Eyjafjörður.

View of Akureyri from Akureyrarkirkja
View of Akureyri from Akureyrarkirkja
Akureyri
Akureyri

We settle in at Strikið, on the fifth (top) floor of Skipagata 14.  I’ve become fond of an Icelandic white ale, Einstök Ölgerð.  We enjoy our views over the harbor and I love my meal of Wolffish and Caridean shrimp in lemon & capers, potato mousse, parsnip and mussels sauce.  Mike orders Reindeer burger with “Ljotur” blue & white cheese, herb mayonnaise, salad, peppers and tomato in brioche bread, served with fries.  He doesn’t seem as enamored with his meal; for one, it’s too much food.  He says the reindeer has that gamey flavor similar to venison.

Wolffish and caridean shrimp in lemon & capers, potato mousse, parsnip and mussels sauce
Wolffish and Caridean shrimp in lemon & capers, potato mousse, parsnip and mussels sauce
Reindeer burger with "Ljotur" blue & white cheese, herb mayonnaise, salad, peppers and tomato in brioche bread, served with fries
Reindeer burger with “Ljotur” blue & white cheese, herb mayonnaise, salad, peppers and tomato in brioche bread, served with fries
the town of Akureyri
the town of Akureyri

After dinner, which is after 9:00, we stroll around by the harbor and enjoy the beautiful light as the sun goes down.  We see the cultural center, Hof, used for music and other performing arts.

Hof
Hof

We also find some whale-watching boats.

The harbor at Eyjafjörður, the longest fjord in Iceland
The harbor at Eyjafjörður, the longest fjord in Iceland
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður harbor
Eyjafjörður harbor
Eyjafjörður harbor
Eyjafjörður harbor
Eyjafjörður harbor
Eyjafjörður harbor
Akureyri from the harbor
Akureyri from the harbor
Eyjafjörður harbor
Eyjafjörður harbor
Eyjafjörður
Eyjafjörður

At nearly 10:00, the sun is finally setting, as we return to our hotel for the night.

Sunset over Akureyri
Sunset over Akureyri
Sunset view from the Lamb Inn
Sunset view from the Lamb Inn

Total steps today: 10,315, or 4.37 miles.  This is one of our lesser days of walking, as we were in the car most of the day; we drove a total of 242 miles. 🙂  Tomorrow, we plan to explore some of the northern fjords.