Saturday, August 3, 2013


Driving north on the two lane highway that circles Iceland, these words stayed in my mind as I admired the stunning views on one of the only days of sunshine during our entire visit. The words vast and desolate have never been so applicable to any place I have visited. With a population of a little more than 300,000, and 2/3 of that living in and around Reykjavik, the rest of the country is very sparsely populated. The landscape is wide open and uninterrupted.

While driving 6 hours (each way) to Akureyri in the far north of Iceland for just 2 nights was a lot of time in the car, it was a great way to see the countryside. I couldn't get over how undeveloped it was. It's only major road is a 2-lane highway. There are very few signs, just gently winding roads through dramatic landscapes. It is a far cry from the wide freeways and tourist attraction billboards that so often litter major US throughways. And it was such a relief from the hustle and bustle never-ending cement of living in the city.

Idyllic spot for a quick nap.
The landscape changes

Kayaking on Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland, at Þingvellir National Park.
We spent Sunday afternoon driving, and the next day headed to Myvatn to check out the famous lake, the geothermal baths, some bad-ass underground ovens, and the earth belching up some seriously hot sulphuric mud and steam. It rained on and off, was quite windy, and the temp was around 40F (4C). But then again no one goes to Iceland for the weather. It was still amazing.
Geothermal baths at Myvatn
Yes, these are ovens and there is bread baking down in the earth.
Bubbly earth
A trooper through all the long hours in the car.

A cafe perched inside a barn full of dairy cows. That was some fresh hot chocolate!
The next day we had planned to do a whale watching tour in Husavik. Unfortunately, we arrived to find out that our tour had been canceled and we had driven 1.5 hours further away from Reykjavik for nothing! We did enjoy our free passes to the whale museum, and then got in the car to head back to the small fishing village of Grindavik, where guests were just starting to trickle in for the big nuptials of my bro-in-law Magnus and his wife-to-be Olof. Exciting!!

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