Monday, November 28, 2016

1 Week in Iceland: Day 3

Day 3 started quite early as well. This was going to be a really strenuous day because we had to make it from Hofn all the way to Myvatn and it was our longest driving day at 400+ km (250+ miles). We skipped a few sites (the big one we didn't make it to was Dettifoss) in order to make time for a soak at the Myvatn Nature Baths, which I think was well worth it.
The morning started with a bit of packing and then a delicious complimentary breakfast at Milk Factory; the fresh bread was awesome.

It was really beautiful that morning, with the temperamental clouds reflecting the sun gorgeously.
We pulled over a couple of times to admire the sunrise.
SVEINSTEKKSFOSS
In the grand scheme of Iceland, Sveinstekksfoss is rather underwhelming when you look at the waterfall alone. However, the surrounding landscape is really gorgeous and because it's a lesser known site, it was quiet and we enjoyed it all to ourselves. Also, the water was a deep turquoise blue, which was really beautiful.
Just after Sveinstekksfoss, we got off of Route 1 briefly (because in this area, Route 1 juts out towards the sea along the fjords) and took Route 939, which is essentially a shortcut. The downside to this shortcut is that it's all gravel, hilly, and windy. It was definitely an adventure and this is where I learned that our car was not quite as robust as I thought and I basically drove in 2nd or 3rd gear the entire time because even a 5% grade made it lose speed completely in the higher gears.

The one bonus of taking this route is that there is this gorgeous pull-off point with a beautiful waterfall and mountains:

SEYÐISFJÖRÐUR
In order to say we'd visited a fjord, we decided to tackle Seyðisfjörður. Granted, we didn't really do it properly, but we did push our struggling car up a winding mountainous road in order to get to the closest waterfall. And, we did see the city off in the distance and it was actually quite huge so I would venture to say that this would be a beautiful place to stay if it fits into your itinerary.
GUFUFOSS
We made one stop in Seyðisfjörður at Gufufoss. Again, it wasn't the most awe-inspiring waterfall but the landscape was so peaceful and beautiful and we enjoyed it immensely.
LAGARFJLÓT
This beautiful lake is apparently home to some mystical creature known as the Lagarfljótsormur (or Worm Monster). We didn't see it, but we did enjoy the scenery. I really loved these little blue-roofed houses.
ICELANDIC HOT DOG
After filling up with gas, we hit up the little attached convenience store to get some lunch. This is where we got our first Icelandic hot dog. Even though we didn't know what this entailed, when asked what we wanted on it, I responded with, "Everything." And in the end, it was the best decision ever. We watched as the gentleman serving us piled crispy fried onions and raw onions into the bottom of the bun, squeezed on ketchup, remoulade, and a sweet brown Icelandic mustard, and topped it with the sausage. It wasn't gourmet or fancy, but it was 100% satisfyingly delicious and it totally hit the spot.

I also really loved how he built the hot dog with all of the fillings in the bottom because it meant they were supremely easy to eat and no one made a mess.
NÁMAFJALL
We stopped at Námafjall to check out the geothermal activity visibly escaping at the surface of the earth. We could smell the sulfur as we approached but the smell wasn't too bad when we got out of the car at the parking lot. The deeper you go though, the worse the smell got. It got to a point where I was dry heaving (though, I don't know how significant it is to say this because I dry heave all the time). And at one point, I almost puked because my sister said she saw some lady pick a rock off the ground to smell it.
MYVATN NATURE BATHS
The hot water comes from the National Power Company's geothermal well. It's all natural, it's full of minerals that are great for the skin, and it smells faintly of sulfur but I think you can get over the smell pretty quickly.
After the smelly expedition, we arrived at my favorite part of the day. It was time for a soak and a bit of relaxation. It was an incredibly beautiful time to be there. The water was the creamy blue color, the sky was lighting up like a blazing fire, and the water was so deliciously warm. We huddled up near one of the supply pipes, which meant we were soaking in the hottest water. We also tried the hot tub area, which was nice, but a bit crowded.
We'd packed towels in our luggage (since we'd planned on coming here and the Blue Lagoon) because you pay about $6 to rent one, which I find ridiculous. We just paid the regular admission price of $30 per adult (which is the cheapest pricing for the low season). The staff handed us little coins to use to release the keys from our lockers and we were off.

One thing to note about using Icelandic public baths and pools and springs: you must shower without your swimsuit and really soap up the hot spots, which are the crotch/tushie area and armpits. You might think you're really clean, but even if a stranger things he/she is clean, wouldn't you want them to soap up before they're soaking in the pool with you? Yes, you would. So, be courteous and follow the rules! If you're feeling modest, there are a couple of showers with curtains. But, in the same way that you're probably not going to be leering at strangers' naked bodies, no one will be looking at yours so don't feel too self-conscious.
VOGAFJÓS GUESTHOUSE
After staying at the Milk Factory the night before, we checked into a hotel which actually is a working dairy farm. We stayed in little wood cabins, which were actually really quaint and comfortable.
For dinner, we went to the cafe.
They had just milked the cows so we were brought little cups of fresh milk, which was still warm. My sister said that the fact that it was still warm from the cows' body heat made her feel a bit ill but agreed that it was delicious.
For our starter, we shared the geysir bread, which was cooked in the ground with geothermal heat. It was really good and nutty, though I doubt the cooking process really contributes anything in terms of flavor. It was served with smoked arctic char, which was really smoky and delicious.
Dad and Sister both went for the burger which was fantastic. It had some of their homemade cheese, which was so yummy.
I went for the lamb shank, which was incredibly tender and fantastic. I loved the crispy potato cake and the garlic bread too.
For dessert, we couldn't not get the ice cream. The ice cream was geysir bread-flavored and it was really creamy and delicious. It reminded me of Cornell Dairy ice cream, which to me just tasted better consciously knowing it was made from the fresh milk and cream of nearby cows.
 After dinner, we said hello to some of the calves. We checked the aurora forecast and it said low and there were too many clouds in the sky so we just went back to our guesthouse and tucked in for a good night's sleep.
Here's my travel map:
Here's my video diary:

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