Saturday, April 26, 2014

Iceland, Part II

After a long first day in Iceland driving around the Golden Circle, we settled in to our guesthouse in Hveragerdi, a little town 30 minutes southeast of Reykjavik. As Chris mentioned in his previous post, the town is best known for its geothermal activity which means lots of naturally heated hot tubs and greenhouses. After driving around all day we couldn't wait to soak in the hot tubs just outside our room. The two hot tubs overlooked a beautiful river flowing around the edge of town. After an early Easter dinner, which included some delicious salmon lox and perfectly cooked cod, we spent a couple hours just soaking and relaxing. At this time of year is stays light pretty late at night so by the time we went to bed it was about midnight. This might also have been a result of the three hour nap we took immediately after we arrived.

We arrived in Iceland on Easter Sunday. Little did we know this would pose a few challenges. Like most of our trips we had planned to stop by a grocery store upon arrival to stock up on snacks and lunch supplies, so that we didn't have to spend a fortune on meals during the day. We discovered, however, that (1) grocery stores are very difficult to find and (2) they were all closed or had very limited hours. Luckily we had brought a few snacks for the plane and were able to buy a sandwich at the airport before leaving. Not the best set of provisions.

For our second day exploring, Chris picked out a hike along the southern coast. We woke up early and made sure to eat a hearty breakfast. The guesthouse had a great spread complete with homemade raisin bread and brown bread, mmmmm. Chris also picked up a "hard boiled" egg. You know how many breakfast buffets in Europe have hard boiled eggs with those little egg dishes to eat them out of? Well here, as we quickly found out when Chris cracked the top of his egg open with a knife, they serve raw eggs which guests can boil themselves in the hot springs outside. Oops.

The drive along the coast to our hike brought us through more rugged plains, flanked by snow covered mountains on one side and ocean on the other. The hike started out at a big waterfall. The falls were a major tourist bus stop, though most people only climb the stairs up to the top of the falls. We, however, continued along the trail which winds up the valley tracing the river's path. Along the way the river goes over 22 different drops which meant we got to see new waterfalls around every turn. As we wound our way up, around a few hairy spots where the trail got too close to the cliff along the river's edge, we got closer and closer to the snow. Eventually we were walking in about 10 inches.

By the end, were we came to the mutual decision to turn around, we felt like we were high on the mountain in an open bowl - which we kind of were! The view was spectacular. The scenery along the trail, the river and waterfalls, the mountains ahead of us rising to craggy peaks, and the open expanse behind us which gave us a few over the delta and ocean. It was definitely a highlight of the trip!

After the hike to continued along the coast for a short while to see the black sand beaches outside Vik. The wind had picked up so we only lasted about 30 minutes walking along the beach. Chris debated taking a dip but decided against it and we returned home to hit in the hot tub instead. Another great day on our Iceland adventure!

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