The Cat and The Bear in Iceland

Halló! Cat is back!

I’ve been trying to write about this trip since a month ago :D. It wasn’t summer yet back then in Iceland, but the lands were getting greener, although it was still snowing for a day or two. The weather was really unpredictable, like.. stormy rain in the morning, then sunny sunshine in the afternoon. Anyway, it was a very cool trip! Figuratively and literally.

Yep, that was our driving route. Our rental car told us that we drove for around 2,166 km in total. Well, ehem, actually the bear did almost all of the driving, the cat helped for only around 40 km *on non-asphalt road when the bear was too lazy to drive slowly*. Considering that I’m a total beginner, and without any driving license, I’m so proud that I could drive that long, with the maximum speed of 60 km/hour :D.

Iceland, the land of ice and fire, where the gap between Eurasian and North American plates is apparent. Glaciers, geysers, fjords, volcano craters, steamy mud pots, waterfalls and geothermal spas are the jewels of the country. Everything looks… huge and vast. It seems like a whole different world to me. Right after I landed in the Keflavik airport, on my way to the city (Reykjavik), it felt like… I’m on Mars! Or moon :D. Although most of the time we were driving through a barren land, but even the barren land looks amazing with all the lava fields and sandar. Driving through glaciers and fjords was so difficult, because… we wanted to stop every minute to admire the breathtaking view :D. To support my blabbering, here you go, some pictures from the road trip…

Before starting the road trip, I spent 3 nights in Reykjavik, while the bear was still attending the summer school. We went around the city, seeing the unique Hallgrímskirkja church, with pipe organ design, and Perlan, with the panoramic view of the city from its viewing deck. We also took part in a hiking trip organized by the summer school, to Esjan, which was… great but leaving us totally wet and shivering after.

The road trip started with the infamous tour of the Golden Circle: Þingvellir National Park, Geysir, Gullfoss waterfall and Kerið crater. And here you go, a video that shows you how it feels waiting for a geyser to “erupt”.

Then we went ahead to spend the night in Vík, a town famous for its black basalt beach, where we stayed in a container! 😀 It’s a very comfortable container, kept us warm during a very stormy wind *although there was an accident when the door was slammed open by the wind and stuck cannot be closed, crazy wind…*. Oh, and the mirror in the bathroom is clearly not designed for someone who is 152 cm tall ;).

The next day was glaciers’ day! Visiting all glacier-tongues accessible with our 2WD car: Sólheimajökull, Skeiðarárjökull and Skaftafellsjökull. Too bad that the weather was very bad when we were in Sólheimajökull, so we had to skip the glacier hike. In Skeiðarárjökull, we could see the vast glaciers from far away but we couldn’t touch it because we were blocked by a river *well, maybe we could if we walk further*. So, we were just playing around in Skeiðarársandur, the largest sandur in the world. When we arrived in Skaftafellsjökull, which is located in Skaftafell National Park, it’s already too late for a glacier hike, since we still had Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon in our agenda. We spent the night in Höfn, at a nice guesthouse, where we met Grumpy, who is (unlike his appearance) friendly and not-grumpy cat :).

Skeiðarársandur from above

The next day was fjords’ day :). We drove through the Eastfjords, the ones that look like fingers on the map. We spent the night at a former hospital in Seyðisfjörður, after driving through a scary foggy highland *everything is white! Except for the road :p*. We did a little hike to see the first phone booth in Iceland (?) and a cool sound sculpture.

According to the lady at the hostel, we could see a puffin colony in another fjord called Borgarfjörður Eystri. So the next day, we decided to go there even though it was quite a deviation from our next destination, Lake Mývatn. And it was sooo worth it :). The puffins are just great! At first I had this idea in my mind to try puffin’s meat as one of Icelandic delicacies, but after I saw them in real life.. that idea goes puff! They’re just too cute! >.<

Before going to our cozy cottage near Lake Mývatn, we passed by Namafjall Hverir geothermal field, part of Krafla volcanic area, with bubbling mudpots and hot steams. We then spent 3 nights at the cottage because we really like that place :). There are two friendly Collie sheep dogs (Valur and Thomas) that always wanted us to play with them, one is especially very fond of playing football with us :D. Oh, how I miss them… Besides, there are a lot of attractions around the lake: Grjótagjá lava cave for bathing *not anymore, too hot now*, Dimmuborgir lava fields, Dettifoss waterfall, Krafla area and its power station and… Myvatn Nature Baths, which is called the ‘Blue Lagoon of the north’, with half the price of Blue Lagoon’s admission fee, and locals said definitely better than Blue Lagoon :D. We also made it to the top of Vindbelgjarfjall at 10 PM *still bright like afternoon!*, to see the panoramic view of the lake.

Our next stop is Akureyri, the second biggest city of Iceland, where we spent a night at a former office. At first we wanted to visit its famous geothermal pool, but we arrived too late. So the hostel guy suggested a more local pool which opens until late evening, located in Þelamörk. It was a nice experience, joining the locals *without any tourist in sight, except maybe us* to enjoy a hot bath after a tiring day :). Especially in the open shower room without any curtains where locals aren’t shy to shower together naked *yeah, that’s the custom, you should take a shower without wearing anything before going into the pool!*. I’m still too shy to do that :”>

The next day was the driving day, because it was a looong drive to our last stop, Keflavik. We passed by Deildartunguhver on our way, which is the highest-flow hot spring in Europe. It travels by pipe to power two neighboring cities, 34 km to Borgarnes and 64 km to Akranes. We intentionally spent our last night in a B&B near the Keflavik airport, because our flight to go home is at 6 in the morning -.-

A very unforgettable trip indeed, although we didn’t get to see the northern light 🙁 maybe next time ;). I’m looking forward to our next journey somewhere else :”>

Bless, puffins! ‘Til we meet again! 🙂

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