From north to east

18 07 2010

I never got around to finish that round trip of Iceland so here it goes.  We left Húsavík on the north coast, the town I grew up in, and headed towards Egilsstaðir in the east where my mother lives.  The drive from Húsavík to Egilsstaðir is about three and a half hours so we weren’t too stressed with time.  To get us ready for the road we got one of my favorite snacks – a deep fried hot dog with heaps of melted cheese a traditional hot dog bread …ummm delicious!

Our first stop along the way was at Lake Mývatn, a fantastic area around a beautiful lake.  The area has everything to offer – great bird life, beautiful landscape and it is a volcanic hot spot.  A lot of the area is covered with not-so-old lava and we stared off by visiting the church that stands untouched like an island in the lava field where where we stopped to look at little lambs that were playing in the yard.

Next up was a place the group was really looking forward to – “The Crack”.  The Crack is a crack in the earth with a hot stream running through it where you can take a bath.  There are a couple of cracks that you can bathe in but the one we picked has a steep climb down to the stream but once you are down it is absolutely magical.

After the bath we spent some time checking out the volcanic craters and the “fake” craters that formed when the lava flowed over the lake and evaporating water exploded up through the lava – so they are not really volcanic but impressive never the less.  We also checked out Bjarnarflag, which is a very active hot-spot with many hot springs filled with volcanic mud.

After Mývatn the drive takes you into the highlands of Iceland where you have to prepared for anything – weather wise – especially since it was still May.  We left Mývatnssveit in a nice but windy weather but as we gained altitude the snow started coming down.  It wasn’t enough to cause us any problems however and we had an easy ride.  We saw a few reindeers on the way – mostly males sporting majestic horns.   Unfortunately the reindeers were too far away fro a decent photo.

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Húsavík – the Lodano of Iceland

14 06 2010

Here is the second post from my friend Deepak from our trip around Iceland.  All opinions are his and not mine :)  The title of the post comes from the fact that when in Switzerland I advertized Húsavík – my home town – a lot as the best place on earth.  Natasha, my friend from Lodano in Switzerland, wanted at one point to stress how great her home town was and said it was the Húsavík of Switzerland.

We arrived in Húsavík to sunrays welcoming its long lost son home. Sadly, the sun paid a visit for only a brief moment, as the rain clouds finally overpowered it. We drove around the town for a bit and saw the places Örn had lived as well as the famous slaughterhouse where he worked and his local “ski lift”. After getting a nice tour of the town, we met up with Hrefna, the daughter of the owner of the guesthouse we were staying at. Given Örn’s popularity in Húsavík, it was of little surprise that a phone call was all it took for the owner of the guesthouse to open just for us (it could also have had something to do with them being former neighbors but we’ll never know). We were given our choice of rooms and Judith and I selected a room on top floor. Though the place was completely empty it would be that was just for one night as the Murderers and (…I forgot the name of the other band) would be taking over the next night.

Since it wasn’t pristine weather to walk, we drove to the world famous Icelandic Phallological Museum, aka, the Penis Museum (http://www.phallus.is/). Housed within the museum are the penises from all sorts of species (they even have Santa Clause’s penis!), the lone exception being human species (though three men have promised their penises to the museum after they die). The museum was very interesting, but we didn’t linger there too long.

After the penis museum, the girls and guys split up. The ladies went to a café for a warm drink while Örn and I went to the public swimming pool. Iceland is full of these public pools with naturally heated water, which are open year round. It is very relaxing to sit in the warm water while being misted by cool Icelandic rain. There weren’t too many people there at that time but Örn was still recognized by a local. The man had been following Örn’s blog posts and was excited to meet him in person. After signing a few autographs, we met up with the ladies for dinner and headed back to the guesthouse.

The guesthouse was nice and comfortable though being only 4 people in a huge house spooked Judith a bit. The howling wind and Örn and I telling ghost stories didn’t make things better but we made it through the night without incident. The next morning we checked out the whale watching tours but, unfortunately for us, the boats were not going out due to choppy seas. Our time in Húsavík was running out but not before we had a sugary breakfast at the local bakery.

From Húsavík, we set course for Egilsstaðir where Örn’s mother lives but that is a story for another post.





Heading towards Húsavík

8 06 2010

It has been a bit strange for me to write about us travelling through Iceland and that might be one of the reasons I haven’t posted as often as I would have liked. Things might seem normal to us since this is our home country and I’ve been afraid that I’ll miss out on the how different Iceland really is from other countries – at least those I’ve been to. Therefore I asked my friend Deepak who travelled with us around the island to write a few posts here on the blog and here is the first gush from Deepak:

Traveling with Örn and Elínborg in their home country was an enlightening experience. I would never have been able to give visitors to the US such detail about my country’s history, flora, fauna and general trivia. So far, we had only been around the places closer to Reykjavik so Judith and I were super excited to go north and visit Örn’s hometown of Húsavík – a place we heard a lot about.

The road trip to Húsavík takes about between 5-8 hours depending on how many cool things you see on the way and want to stop to enjoy. Much of the landscape is rough and rocky but relatively flat so when we came upon hill like mounds of dirt all over the place, we knew we were in the presence of trolls. Legend has it that trolls were digging out land and threw the dirt from their shovels over their shoulder. As we were driving along, it was clear that Mother Nature had no part in the making of those hills.

We stopped for lunch along the way (Potturinn & Pannan in Blöndós) and I hit the jackpot of deliciousness when I ordered the monkfish. Before arriving in Iceland, I thought I was going to have to prepare myself for boiled lamb, boiled fish and boiled you-name-it – after what I had heard from Örn. Well, I didn’t have a bad meal the entire trip! A delicious meal put away, we continued on our journey to the Promised Land = Húsavik.

On the road we stopped by a fantastic waterfall – Goðafoss -for a quick photo op. In the year 1.000 the Law speaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði decided that Christianity should from then on be the official religion in Iceland. On his way from the parliament session Þorgeir threw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall and from that act the waterfall got it’s name (Goð=God, foss=waterfall).

The weather was turning sour but Örn kept promising that it would be sunny in Húsavík. According to him it’s always sunny in Húsavík but the outlook wasn’t good at all. Despite the sun not going down until about two in the morning the previous days the clouds were now dark, threatening heavy rain. But there is always hope – as we drove in to Húsavík the sun was shining through a blue hole in the dark sky as if it were welcoming Örn back home !!! …unfortunately for us it didn’t last long.

More on Húsavík and surroundings soon with more action and exciting photos so stay tuned.