Driving my way around Iceland

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Extreme Glow
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/09/20 18:58:40 (permalink)
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.
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kaszeta
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/03 14:32:46 (permalink)
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.
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buffetbuster
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/05 15:08:33 (permalink)
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. 
#93
kaszeta
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/08 16:39:36 (permalink)
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):

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








#95
kland01s
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/08 18:12:21 (permalink)
Absolutely phenomenal photos! Such a dramatically beautiful place!
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/08 21:23:03 (permalink)
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:








#97
ScreamingChicken
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 09:02:07 (permalink)
Are the rivers and streams in Iceland fairly cold because of the glaciers and climate?
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 09:15:31 (permalink)
At this point, I'm thinking Iceland is just one giant waterfall.  Spectacular photos!
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kaszeta
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 09:33:02 (permalink)
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
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 11:57:41 (permalink)
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
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 13:02:14 (permalink)
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
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 15:52:33 (permalink)

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









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


kaszeta
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 15:52:54 (permalink)
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
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 15:53:03 (permalink)
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
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 16:11:16 (permalink)
What an amazing place. Thanks for sharing all these great photos and reports.
FriedClamFanatic
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 16:43:44 (permalink)
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
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 17:06:05 (permalink)
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
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 18:04:14 (permalink)
I am still completely enchanted by this trip. Thank you!
tcrouzer
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 22:14:54 (permalink)
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
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/09 23:28:32 (permalink)
These are simple amazing photos and wonderful looking food. Well done.
kaszeta
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/10 15:05:04 (permalink)
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
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/10 15:05:23 (permalink)
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
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/10 15:05:41 (permalink)
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
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/10 15:05:56 (permalink)
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
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/10 21:56:26 (permalink)
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
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/10 23:21:50 (permalink)
Very interesting report.  The pictures are beautiful. Im craving lamb.
agnesrob
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/11 08:58:56 (permalink)
Just a wonderful report!
Tony Bad
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/11 09:00:37 (permalink)
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
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/11 13:55:20 (permalink)
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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