Iceland Part 2: Reykjadalur, Geysir, Gullfoss, Arnarstapi
Early Monday morning, even before the Icelandic bakers’ awakening, our buddies left for the airport. An hour later, at 4:45, J and I drove to KEF to pick up a replacement friend who, due to bad airline luck, was arriving a day later than she had planned.
The two days in this post originated at KEF with major stops at Selfoss, Reykjadalur, Minni Borg, Skálholt, Geysir, Gullfoss, and Arnarstapi.
From the airport, we followed the peninsula’s edge along the ocean and through the extensive lava fields of Reykjanesfólkvangur. We crossed the bridge over Ölfusá bay and stopped for a bakery breakfast of sandwiches, bagels, and rolls in Selfoss. Everyone looked more rested than us.
The road through the lava fields of Reykjanesfólkvangur.
Welcome to the moon.
Abandoned hot dog stand in the middle of nowhere.
Lupine and Ölfusá bay.
A row of beautiful Icelandic horses.
As a mellow first activity, we hiked back up to the geothermal bathing area at Reykjadalur. It was less crowded than the prior visit, and we found an empty “pool” closer to the heat source. As A and J lounged in the water, I sturdied the rock dam and made our area deeper. The water was warm and stinky.
Horses keeping warm by a vent.
Back to the thermal valley.
A and J in the river. I spruced up the dam to make the pool deeper.
Old farm, young cock.
After an expensive burger lunch in Selfoss, we drove to Minni Borg to stay in a wooden cottage in a complex of newly built cottages with two shared hot tubs.
Minni Borg cottage.
A bunkbed with room for three was jammed in a small room, so I decided to sleep on the living room couch.
It rained steadily that night; I could see it clearly in the endless light.
It was still drizzling Tuesday morning. We departed around ten and stopped to explore Skálholt Church. I was super exited to see my first turf building, and missed the chance to photograph the caretaker’s dog peeing on a grave.
The new church was stark and fairly uninteresting, but the nearby ruins of the old settlement and a mysterious rock tunnel were worth exploring.
Stained glass inside Skálholt Cathedral.
Earthen prayer hall.
The ornate locking mechanism.
Next, we stopped at at Geysir to to see geothermal activity that included the dormant but still steamy Geysir for which all geysers are named. Strokkur geyser was frequent, regular, and spectacular, and we watched it erupt numerous times.
At the Geysir Store, J bought an expensive natural wool sweater. I wanted to buy the same design, but I needed a few more days to deliberate.
Strokkur, about to blow.
All geysers are named after this dormant guy.
Gullfoss was jaw dropping, especially for zombies and snakes. After taking in the misty view near the parking area, we walked to the upper viewpoint, then down to the lower viewpoint on the rocks alongside the upper falls. The roar of such a large amount of water bordered on scary.
It was crowded and misty on the lower path. I, myself a camera-toting tourist, was annoyed by the other tourists. I directed most of my bad feelings towards the crowds that surged from busses onto the narrow trail.
A misty view of the mighty Gullfoss.
Looking into the canyon.
The upper falls with people for scale.
After the falls, we stopped for lunch at Farmhotel Efstidalur at a dairy farm up a dirt road. It was busy and it took the staff a long time to acknowledge us, but the pleasant atmosphere persuaded us to stay.
To keep things “cheap” and simple, we all ordered hamburgers. I’m not sure if the beef came from the farm. For dessert, we ordered ice-cream made from the milk of cows in view through the windows of the ground floor parlor.
Satiated, we began the long drive to our next accommodations.
At Pingvellir, we went on a short hike into one of the chasms.
Crevice trail with A for scale.
Along the trail.
North of Reykjavík, we took Hvalfjörður Tunnel to cross the Hvalfjörður fjord. The 5,770m long tunnel reached a depth of 165m below sea level and had a fairly steep and curving underground approach/exit. Toll was a steep 1,000ISK/$7.5.
We continued along the 1, crossed the bridge into Borgarnes, and continued north along the 54. Vast farm fields were all around us, with the ocean to our left and towering green mountains full of waterfalls to our right.
We stopped a few times along the way to see horses, sheep, farm buildings, and interesting geology.
Farm on top of a hill.
Mountains and coastal meadow.
Partial cave barn.
J and the mighty Gerduberg basalt column wall.
Church at the end of a gravel road.
Volcano and Quonset hut.
Looking back at the 54 road as we approached Arnarstapi.
In the early evening, we pulled into the tiny town of Arnarstapi and found our hotel. It was less luxurious than the night before: a dorm-like room with two beds and a bunkbed in a small metal building that had about eight rooms and two shared baths.
Seemingly the only source of food in town was the restaurant by the hotel. We reluctantly ordered three expensive soups. J had a can of cola, and I had 500ml of Viking beer. During the entire meal, I was kicking myself for not wanting to stop at the Bonus supermarket (which for the whole trip, I would call “Discount Pig”) in Borgarnes.
After dinner, the ladies went on a walk to the cliffs overlooking the ocean. I retired to our room. Through the thin walls, I heard a jolly Frenchman return and release a loud fart that caused both him and his family to laugh.
Wednesday morning, we woke early and walked across the road for another look at the ocean.
Numerous loud gulls were nesting in the cliffs. In the grass, aggressive terns squawked and dive-bombed us to protect their turf.
It’s not business, not business time!
The mound behind our hotel.
The cliffs near at the town were home to tons of roosting gulls.
Basalt into the ocean.
Bárðar Saga Snæfellsáss statue. It’s considered lucky by me to walk under his ball sack.
This was not the last time we would be pestered by the terns.