Driving my way around Iceland

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kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/16 20:45:28









mr chips
Filet Mignon
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/16 20:58:39
Every section of photos is better and better.
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/16 23:46:44
Next, we went upriver to the Hólmatungur area, which includes a series of waterfalls on the Jökulsá river, as well as several secondary falls also feeding into the river.

Here's the overall area:



Here's Urriðafoss:



Here's the "Katlar" ("Kettle"), where several waterfalls all mix:






kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/16 23:47:02
Next stop was Dettifoss, Iceland's largest (by water volume) waterfall:

Getting there involves a short walk through a pretty cool basalt field:


You can tell when you are getting close to the falls from the sound, and the mist clouds:


Dettifoss.  This is one powerful waterfall.  And it kicks up so much spray that it's really difficult to photograph, since it sprays your nice SLR lens with droplets:




The mist also made for some impressive rainbows:


(The last of these was taken with my iPhone; with the much, much smaller lens, it was actually easier to keep clean for photos in the blowing mist)
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/16 23:47:35
Just barely south of Dettifoss is Selfoss, another waterfall.  If you look closely, Carol and I are completely soaked from standing by Dettifoss:



You've got a nice view of the basalt layer here:


 
 
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/16 23:47:54
After Dettifoss, our next stop was Möðrudalur, a very remote farm settlement.

On the way there, the road was amazing.  From Ásbyrgi to Möðrudalur, the drive on F842 and Highway 1 yielded terrain that resembled each of these environments: "Ireland", "Death Valley", "Sahara Desert", "Iowa", "Mars", "The Moon", "Niagara Falls", and "Weird Sci Fi Movie". All in 25 miles of driving.  Add in the constant switching between "cloudy with rain" and "sunny and dry", it was truly bizarre.

My pictures don't begin to capture it (since I was, umm, driving).  If I do that drive again, I'm taking a video out the front window.

But here are the images I did take:










kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/16 23:48:22
After Dettifoss, when we got back to Route 1, after a while we got a bit hungry and decided to take a ~15 mile detour to Möðrudalur for a snack.

Möðrudalur is one of the highest altitude settlements in Iceland, located on the plains north of Vatnajokull.  It's pretty remote (although it used to be on the Ring Road before they rerouted it, and it's still a bus refreshment stop).

Möðrudalur is also home to Fjalladýrð, a farm that has a campground, a guest house, and restaurant.   With waffles.



The main building is a sod building:





We ended up getting both Astarpungur  ("Love Ball"), beautiful little filled donut-like pastries:



and waffles:


kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/17 00:07:10
And this was approximately the halfway point...
agnesrob
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/17 09:16:04
Can't wait for more!
leethebard
Sirloin
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/17 09:48:54
What a beautiful country!!!!!! Thanks.
tcrouzer
Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/17 10:11:37
Amazing rock formations and great photos! Love the sod house - I'm always interested in seeing those....don't know why, but I just love them.
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/17 10:17:55
As a good example of the sporadic Icelandic weather: it was warm and sunny when we go to Fjalladýrð:



10 minutes later it was sleeting:




But we headed on to Egilsstaðir.  The valley in which Egilsstaðir was filled with waterfall after waterfall, to the point where I seem to have been looking at them more than photographing them, since I only seem to have photographed one:



Egilsstaðir itself wasn't terribly picturesque, although most of the horses there had punk hairdos:


kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/17 10:18:18
The next day, we went to the eastern Fjords.  Here's Egilsstaðir, seen from the road on the way to Seyðisfjörður:



Driving from Egilsstaðir to Seyðisfjörður involved driving over a fairly high pass, which took us well into the snow belt.  The resulting scenery was impressive:








kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/17 11:54:13
By the way, as I'm writing this, that general part of Iceland, two weeks later, is under a state of emergency since they had an unexpected several feet of snow drop in the area.  Since this happened before the sheep roundup, it's a major problem for Icelandic sheep farmers:
 
http://www.icelandreview....and_0_393447.news.aspx
FriedClamFanatic
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/17 18:02:05
Kas..............if the Nobel Committe ever gets around to giving out a prize for the best Roadfoood/Vacation shots and commentary, you have won it hands down! ( Can't wait to see your shots of Sweden when you go to accept the prize!).
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/17 18:37:01
Believe it or not, I've eaten there. In 1998 I was in Stockholm for a conference, and our conference dinner was in the Nobel award room in Stockholms stadshus. Nice place. I should find my pictures.
Extreme Glow
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/17 19:52:43
I hiked up Hverfjall as well but fortunately it was sunny and warm.  Unfortunately, it was midge season which made it quite aggravating.
 
Ate lunch of soup and bread at Gaemli Baerinn too.  Hey, it's a small country.
 
One lane tunnels and bridges are pretty exciting.
 
Enjoying the return trip.
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/17 20:25:40
Extreme Glow
I hiked up Hverfjall as well but fortunately it was sunny and warm.  Unfortunately, it was midge season which made it quite aggravating.

I hear I missed out on part of the fundamental Lake Myvatn experience due to arriving after midge season.
 
Indeed, that was one almost eery thing about Iceland: it was 100% dead quiet at night.  No crickets.
drummagick
Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/17 21:19:24
Incredible trip report and pix!!  Thank you!!
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/17 22:23:31
Gufufoss is a rather nice waterfall above Seyðisfjörður:





The hills around Seyðisfjörður were covered with blooming flowers.



The colorful wooden buildings of Seyðisfjörður.  Most of these are actually pretty old, and were built by Norwegian settlers using imported wood, giving Seyðisfjörður a pretty unique look:


kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/17 22:23:56
After Seyðisfjörður, we started working our way down the Eastern Fjords.  Our next stop was Reyðarfjörður, which wasn't terribly scenic (mostly, it hosts a giant Alcoa smelter), but right past town was a nice promontory that looked out over the fjord:



From that same point, you can see the next town, Eskifjörður, which is one of the major fishing ports of Eastern Iceland:



Here's looking back at that same point from Eskifjörður



Many of the smaller fjords, such as Neskaupstaður, are only accessible via boat or tunnel.  The Neskaupstaður tunnel is kind of fun, since it is 650 m long (one of the shorter tunnels... the longest we did that day was 6.5 km!)... and just like almost every highway bridge, it's single lane.




icecreamchick
Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/18 00:56:24
Wow! Your photos are beautiful and it just sounds like a great trip!
mr chips
Filet Mignon
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/20 01:37:37
So spectacular. reminds me a bit of Alaska.
ScreamingChicken
Filet Mignon
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/20 09:41:18
Kaszeta, was this a vacation/pleasure trip or are you fortunate enough to occasionally travel for business reasons?
Heartburn
Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/20 12:01:32
We have been to Iceland three times so far.
The part we most enjoyed was the drive in a rented car taking the "summer road" to Isafjorour in the northwest section of Iceland.
The road is gravel but in good condition
We very seldom saw another car and the views were magnificant
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/20 13:01:49
I'll be honest, I spent most of the rest of that day just enjoying my driving in the fjords and not taking pictures, but did stop a few times...

For example, coming back through Reyðarfjörður, we stopped at the Iceland in WWII Museum.  Reyðarfjörður was a substantial Allied base for defending convoy operations.  Some of the base is still here, and is now used for the museum



Fáskrúðsfjörður was a nice, pleasant little fjord town that had one notable feature that jumped out to my eyes:  It was settled primarily by French fisherman, and in recognition of this, the street signs are bilingual.

I actually learned a few Icelandic words from these signs, since my French comprehension is pretty good.





At the mouth of Fáskrúðsfjörður is a boarded up and semi-derelict farm, with a nice view of the island Skrúður.

Maybe I should put in an offer?



Looking across Berufjörður towards Djúpivogur (which you can't quite make out)


kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/20 13:05:03
ScreamingChicken
Kaszeta, was this a vacation/pleasure trip or are you fortunate enough to occasionally travel for business reasons?

Completely pleasure for this trip. 
But most of my food travels are actually combined with business.  Indeed, I'm trying to get these pictures and travel log updated before I leave for Germany on Sunday (on a work trip)
I've tried to get work, or my clients at work, to send me off to New Zealand, Antarctica, Greenland, or Iceland.  So far, no luck (I got close with New Zealand, however).
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/20 13:05:41
Just past Djúpivogur was this mountain that had a particular layer cake appearance.



Much of the East Coast of Iceland has some pretty cool beaches:



On our way to Höfn, we passed through the Lón area (the name means "Lagoon", it's really a giant lagoon).  The area is scenic, with nice mountains, calm water, and swans.

Yes, a *lot* of swans (look carefully in the image, and most of those black dots on the water are swans).  And at dusk, they make a lot of noise.






 
 
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/20 13:06:12
A particularly good example of an "Einbreið Brú" (One Lane Bridge) on the Ring Road.  At least this one had a good vantage point to see if the coast was clear:



Another view of Lón, with some cool clouds:





Once you get past Lon, you can then see the Vatnajökull ice cap, and the many tongue glaciers that form off of it.  This impressive one is Fláajökull:


kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/20 13:06:27
The next stop was Höfn, a modestly-sized Icelandic fishing village, particularly famous for its langoustines (Norwegian lobsters).   So when we were looking for dinner, we went to the well-regarded Humarhöfnin in Höfn for Langoustines:



Carol started with the smoked duck salad, which was very nicely done. 

Smoked items in Iceland had an interesting flavor, since they smoke them on lighter wood than we usually use in the US (mostly birch and alder, those being the wood that's actually available)



And some local beer:



And finally, a boatload of lobster tails (which were phenomenal):


Extreme Glow
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/20 18:58:40
Those lobster tails look phenomenal.  Hofn is where I had the monkfish in bacon sauce at Kaffi Hornid... wonderful.
Everywhere I ate, the bread was wonderful too; from the hearty-grained breads at breakfast to the naan-like bread with soup.
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/03 14:32:46
I haven't finished yet, but I did get sidetracked by a week in Frankfurt, Germany. 
 
I'll get back to posting about Iceland in the next day or so.
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/05 15:08:33
kaszeta-
This just may be the best trip report I have ever seen on Roadfood.  Stunning photos and informative descriptions!  Iceland has long been the country in the world I most want to visit and now that desire is even stronger.
 
Can't wait to see the rest. 
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/08 16:39:36
After dinner, it was a phenomenal dusk, so we went walking.  Here's "Downtown" Höfn:



While the weather in Iceland was often quite variable, it certainly gave us a perfect evening in Höfn.  After dinner, we walked along the water, looking across the bay at the distant glaciers (a total of five of them) emptying off of the Vatnajökull ice cap:








 


And a pano (might want to click through on this one):

kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/08 16:49:15
The next stop was one of the major tourist spots of the southern coast of Iceland: Jökulsárlón (the "Glacier River Lagoon"):








kland01s
Filet Mignon
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/08 18:12:21
Absolutely phenomenal photos! Such a dramatically beautiful place!
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/08 21:23:03
The next stop was Skaftafell National Park:

Skaftafell is a stunningly beautiful and verdant park located on the slopes of the mountain Kristínartindar, and includes the glacier Skaftafellsjökull (a part of the Vatnajökull ice cap) and the  Morsárdalur valley.

And the peak you see on the right here is Hvannadalshnúkur, which is the highest peak in Iceland. 

Most of the green vegetation you see here is actually blueberry bushes, so we also managed to forage for a snack, too:



Skaftafell is home to quite a few picturesque wateralls.  Here is Hundafoss, a short hike from the trailhead:



Looking out at the barren plains south of Skaftafell.  This area gets washed out occasionally due to flooding from volcanic activity melting the ice cap, this happened most recently in 2004:



Another view of Hvannadalshnúkur, which is the highest peak in Iceland:


 
But Hundafoss was pretty un-impressive compared to Skaftafell's Svartifoss falls ("Black Falls"), one of the finest examples of basalt columns I've ever seen:








ScreamingChicken
Filet Mignon
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 09:02:07
Are the rivers and streams in Iceland fairly cold because of the glaciers and climate?
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 09:15:31
At this point, I'm thinking Iceland is just one giant waterfall.  Spectacular photos!
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 09:33:02
ScreamingChicken
Are the rivers and streams in Iceland fairly cold because of the glaciers and climate?

The climate is actually warmer than most people expect.  It's not balmy, but it was reasonably warm most of our trip.
 
The water, however, was generally very, very cold, unless fed by a hot spring (in a few posts I'll have pictures of Varma, the "Warm River")
SeamusD
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 11:57:41
kaszeta
Our next stop was Dimmuborgir, a giant lava field east of Lake Myvatn.  The name means "Dark Castles", and you can see why: the lava field makes lots of walls, towers, and tunnels (alas, the crappy weather also made for somewhat bland photos).  It's also got a nice mythology to it: Dimmuborgir is supposedly the home to the Yule Lads.  The Yule Lads are the result of a head-on collision between old Norse and Christian traditions: the Yule Lads are the sons of the mountain trolls (Grýla).  Unlike the Grýla themselves (who search out and scare naughty children), the Yule Lads only come at Christmastime, and are more mischievous than anything else: they have names like door-slammer (Hurðaskellir), bowl-licker (Askasleikir), sausage-swiper (Bjúgnakrækir), and meat-hook (Ketkrókur, he looks down chimneys and steals roasting meat with a long hook).  The supposed way to get the Yule Lads to leave you alone is for your parents to give you lots of clothing at Christmas (I swear I'm not making this up!)

 
Dimmu Borgir is also the name of an Icelandic black metal band that I like.
I've always wanted to go there, for some reason I never figured it was that close. Great report!
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 13:02:14
SeamusD
Dimmu Borgir is also the name of an Icelandic black metal band that I like.
I've always wanted to go there, for some reason I never figured it was that close. Great report!

While not generally into black metal, I'm actually familiar with the band Dimmu Borgir as well.  :)
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 15:52:33

Hiking up from Svartifoss, you also get a great view of Skaftafellsjökull









And a view back down to the flatlands by the ocean:


kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 15:52:54
Our next night was spent in Kirkjubæjarklaustur, which is so hard to pronounce that even the locals call it just "Klaustur"

Just outside of Kirkjubæjarklaustur is Kirkjugólf  ("Church Floor"), a natural basalt formation that resembles, well, a church floor:








kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 15:53:03
Kirkjubæjarklaustur doesn't have a heck of a lot.  Heck, there's basically three places to eat (the hotel, the gas station, and the cafe).  We did the cafe:



Predictably, the special was "lamb with Bearnaise sauce" (this was a dish on about 95% of menus I saw in Iceland)



I opted for the lamb burger, which was actually pretty good (chunk of lamb, not a lamb patty):



But the real surprise was "Icelandic Pizza": Served up with four different (and fairly strong) Icelandic cheeses, and a serving of redcurrant jelly.

A very odd combination, but it really worked.  And the crust was really good, I suspect that most of the pizzas here are quite good.


Tony Bad
Fire Safety Admin
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 16:11:16
What an amazing place. Thanks for sharing all these great photos and reports.
FriedClamFanatic
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 16:43:44
Kaszeta...you have won the all-time Roadfood award...for food, for pictures, for descriptions! It will never be topped! And Damn...........the food looked almost as good as the scenery!
 
To do the ring road thing..........how long were you there?  You may have answered this earlier, but everytime I see a new posting, I get drool all over my keyboard and not sure my back button works as well as it should....although I do keep going back over those wonderful pictures
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 17:06:05
FriedClamFanatic
Kaszeta...you have won the all-time Roadfood award...for food, for pictures, for descriptions! It will never be topped! And Damn...........the food looked almost as good as the scenery!

To do the ring road thing..........how long were you there?  You may have answered this earlier, but everytime I see a new posting, I get drool all over my keyboard and not sure my back button works as well as it should....although I do keep going back over those wonderful pictures

 
I was there 12 days, 9 of them doing the Ring Road (the other three were in Reykjavik, and of those, Day 1 was mostly jetlag-induced wandering).  Of those "driving days", one was a zero mile day (we came back to the same place).  I'd consider those 9 days to be "fairly rushed", actually, since we did 2600 km of driving, and spent a lot of time saying things like "I'd love to check that out, but we have to be in Möðrudalur by 5pm" or "I'd really like to come back and spend a few days hiking here".
ann peeples
Sirloin
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 18:04:14
I am still completely enchanted by this trip. Thank you!
tcrouzer
Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 22:14:54
Oh, my! Your photos just get better as the trip goes on! I'm beginning to wish I had studied geology somewhere along the way - the rock formations are incredible. Please sir, may we have some more?
mr chips
Filet Mignon
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 23:28:32
These are simple amazing photos and wonderful looking food. Well done.
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/10 15:05:04
Moving west from Klaustur, we attempted to go see the Laki crater (a huge crater in southern Iceland left over from a 1783 eruption), but the road leading to it made us reconsider (the water was already high enough that I was sketchy about fording it in the SUV, and it was still raining, so we could have gotten stuck back there).  But it did take us through a scenic area.  It's one of the major areas used for the sheep roundup (Iceland is open grazing, and they round up the sheep every fall, well, right about now).  To sort sheep, they have a lot of these giant circular pens:



West of Kirkjubæjarklaustur is a rather impressively large field of tuff and moss (from that same 1783 eruption), and it's somewhat of a tourist spot:










(It's amazing that after a week in Iceland, this sort of terrain becomes "normal" in your mind)
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/10 15:05:23
Between Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Vik there's an interesting spot called Laufskálavarða.  Long ago, it used to be a large farm complex, but it was destroyed in 894 by the eruption of Katla.

Since then, it's been a tradition for travelers to stop and add a rock to one of the many cairns. 

I think next time I visit, I'm bringing something distinctly non-Icelandic, like a chunk of New Hampshire Granite.






 
 
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/10 15:05:41
The next stop was the town of Vík í Mýrdal (aka just "Vík"), which has a fairly large outcropping called Reynisfjall, below which several spikes of basalt called Reynisdrangar stick out of the water.

Like most anything similar in Iceland, this is allegedly due to.... trolls.

Expect to see this spot in Noah (2013), the film being released next year starring Russell Crowe, since they had this area blocked off for filming the previous day.



The beach at Vík isn't really sand, it's more little tiny round pebbles of basalt:








kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/10 15:05:56
It's a bit of a drive, but past Vik, there is another view of the Reynisdrangar, as well as a nice basalt formation.

It's also on the windward side of the point, and was incredibly windy and rainy (this is the rainiest point in Iceland, averaging 60 inches a year.  We got soaked)






Extreme Glow
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/10 21:56:26
When I was there the south coast was mostly cold and rainy (as opposed to the warm, dry north), the exception being Skaftafell where it was gorgeous.  Jokulsarlon was low overcast and about 38F... very miserable for August.  Heavy rain and fog in Vik prevented much sightseeing, so I'm glad to see Jokulsarlon in the sun and the area around Vik.
 
Ate at Systrakaffi as well and had the Arctic Char.  I hope you saw Systrafoss.
Texascajun
Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/10 23:21:50
Very interesting report.  The pictures are beautiful. Im craving lamb.
agnesrob
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/11 08:58:56
Just a wonderful report!
Tony Bad
Fire Safety Admin
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/11 09:00:37
I never ever thought about traveling to Iceland, but this report and your wonderful photos have changed that. What a unique place. Once again, thanks for sharing.
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/11 13:55:20
Next up was Skogafoss, another impressive waterfall:





And like all sorts of other attractions, it also had a hot dog stand:




 
Heading further west, our next stop was Seljalandsfoss.  Seljalandsfoss is an impressive 200 ft waterfall, but it also is one of the few waterfalls in Iceland where you can easily get behind the waterfall:






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