Iceland

Iceland Day 6 by Julian Chokkattu

The final day! I woke up early in the morning (we slept on the side of the road) and continued towards Snaefellsnes peninsula. Along the way, we saw cows! DSC_7387DSC_7391DSC_7404DSC_7441

We reached the peninsula! There was so much we could do, but we decided to do a cave tour and see the coastline. This area was about 10 minutes from the visitor center.

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Birds along the cliff edge.

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Yeah this is tame compared to the time I cleaned the car in Seydisfjordur.

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Rainbow!

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This cave, Vatnshellir, was created from a volcanic eruption from Mount Snaefellsjokull. There's an Icelandic myth about a troll called Bardur to go along with it. Mount Snaefellsjokull was the inspiration for Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. So was this cave. In the book, when you go through the cave, through the earth, you come out in Stromboli, Italy. Apparently, that's true.

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Apparently, 8 types of rare bacteria live in this cave. When you point your light, this bacteria, which is eating the cave, shines.

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Further down the rabbit hole we go. Eventually, we got to a point where the tour guide told us to turn our lights off, and we experienced true darkness. He told us to be quiet and we heard the sounds of the cave, which was basically water droplets falling.

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We stopped to go through this mountain. It looks like two fists.

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Narrow spaces!

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We then drove straight to Reykjavik, which was about 2 and a half hours away. We parked and first headed for the Settlement Exhibit, which was really cool. It showed us artifacts from the settlement age, and the history and genealogy of the vikings. Most Icelandic people have Nordic and Celtic blood in them.

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I really like the runes Vikings used to write. Here's a passage from The Book of Settlement.DSC_7619DSC_7627DSC_7635

We ended up eating at Icelandic Fish and Chips, which again, was pretty delicious. Afterwards we headed back to our AirBnB host, where we crashed for the night. We woke up early the next day to catch our flight and said goodbye to this wonderful country. We keep talking about going back to live in Seydisfjordur or Akureyri for a few months or so. Who knows. No matter what, I'll definitely see you again, Iceland.

Iceland Day 5 by Julian Chokkattu

Day 5! After waking up early at the Keldunes cottage, we stopped by the gas station/diner where we had a hearty breakfast. Right as we left, we passed a couple looking for a ride. They looked nice enough so we stopped the car and asked them which way they were going, to which they replied Dettifoss. We were passing Dettifoss again so we cleared out the back seat and told them to get in. The guy was from France and his girlfriend was from the Czech Republic, they met studying landscape architecture in Sweden. They were working at Jorkulsarlon during the summer! We talked about the state of looking for jobs out of college, our personal histories and I mentioned that I lived in Sri Lanka for 13 years and the girl shouted that she was going to Sri Lanka in January, so that was pretty cool. Myvatn was on our list but they told us to definitely go. Myvatn is named so because the little bugs that fly around there are called my (pronounced me). They also told us to skip the West Fjords because of time and go to Snaefellsnes peninsula so that we can make the most of our trip.

We dropped them off at Dettifoss and got to Myvatn about an hour later. The first place we stopped at was another sulphur field, Hvenir.

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There were also these rock piles that had a lot of steam coming out of them. They were pretty hot!DSC_7290DSC_7316

Recommended by the hitchhikers, whose names I wish I had gotten, we stopped at the nature baths. The water is slimy, but you're wading into a lot of minerals and it's nice and warm. The hitchhikers said this is basically what the blue lagoon is like, except less expensive and smaller, with less people. I felt as though I had a cold coming and my body was aching from the 2 hour kayak, and this bath made me feel good as new!

Afterwards, we departed for Akureyri, the capital of the North. DSC_7323DSC_7324

We passed by a group of three leading a group of horses somewhere, right next to a waterfall. So we had to stop. And later, we saw the horses again!DSC_7331

We drove to Dalvik first, north of Akureyri, in hopes of catching the fish festival, but unfortunately, I was too tired on the way and took a nap so we missed it. Oh well, maybe next time. We drove back to Akureyri. I like it better than Reykjavik. It's quirkier, it feels more modern, but quaint at the same time. We decided to eat two dinners, first at Hamborgarafabrikkan (Hamburger Factory), which was delicious, and then at Rub23. We had a break in between of course. DSC_7343DSC_7346

We stopped at this cozy cafe called Blaa Kannan to recharge and have some Daim Merengue, which was delicious as usual. Nothing is too sweet in Iceland, it's like they never add sugar and rely on the natural sugar in food.DSC_7358

We stopped at this other juice bar to have a smoothie, which again, was not sweet, but healthy-tasting. Of course, you can't go anywhere in Iceland without seeing a little bit of graffiti. DSC_7368DSC_7369DSC_7371

Rub23 was a nice, cozy restaurant. We had fish and you can choose the seasoning you want them to rub into the raw product before they cook it, hence the name Rub23.

We left Akureyri that night and drove for 2 and a half hours toward the Snaefellsnes peninsula, before we stopped the car and fell asleep for a little bit.

Iceland Day 4 by Julian Chokkattu

DSC_7031 We woke up around 5:30 a.m. at Hofn Hostel and left around 6 a.m. It was day 4 of our trip and we were making our way into the mountains on the north east part of Iceland. Our destination was Seyðisfjörður. Along the way we saw mountains enveloped by clouds, roads blocked by sheep, a tunnel built through a mountain, and fog — lots and lots of fog.

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We stopped by this small waterfall near Seyðisfjörður called Gufufoss.

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Seyðisfjörður was by far my favorite place in Iceland. It has a population of nearly 700 people and sits in a fjord, with snow-capped mountains surrounding it. We decided to stop at a cafe at Hotel Aldan, which was featured in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. We looked for things we could do in this town, and we decided to do something different — kayaking in the fjord. I asked the waitress for Hlynur Oddsson, and she said, "Oh! The kayak guy! He's probably on a tour, but he always answers his phone." She dialed a number and handed me the phone, and I was then talking to Mr. Oddsson, who was currently kayaking with a group. He sounded incredibly friendly and we set a tour time of 1 p.m.

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Ms. Chan and I worked on our blog posts while we waited and decided to eat at the hotel. We had a reindeer burger and some soup, both of which were delicious. We proceeded to go to Oddsson's kayak store, which had a pirate flag flying at the back. Oddsson, who looked like he was around his 30s, was charismatic and flirty. He prepped us with the proper gear and we made our way to the kayaks. There were 3 others joining us, but Ms. Chan and I were the only ones to share a kayak. DSC_7160DSC_7167DSC_7184DSC_7189

Oddsson gave us a brief introduction into the history of the town, which was once bigger than Reykjavik. Below us in the water is also a oil tanker that sunk after Germany bombed it during the second world war. Who could bomb a beautiful place such as this?

Oddsson told us to go see Tvisongur, a sound sculpture up near the base of the mountain by the town and so we did after we parted ways.

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Naturally we passed a waterfall on the way.

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Tvisongur! It's a sound sculpture by German artist Lukas Kühne that amplifies sound made inside the domes.

According to the town's website, "each dome has its own resonance that corresponds to a tone in the Icelandic musical tradition of five-tone harmony, and works as a natural amplifier to that tone."

We spent a bit of time finding the lyrics to a few songs and singing them, such as Enya's May It Be and Danny Boy.

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Afterwards, we headed to Skaftfell Bistro, a popular and well-reviewed eatery for dinner. Again, more delicious food.

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Unfortunately we had to leave. Sad as it was, we headed off to our next destination which was about 2 and a half hours away: Dettifoss. Located in the Vatnajokull National Park, Dettifoss is "Europe's mightiest waterfall."DSC_7223DSC_7224

We had a spot of trouble on our way to Dettifoss. I had pumped gas into the car, but oddly, the fuel meter wasn't displaying it. Thinking there was something wrong with the digital display, we went on our way. After a while, the fuel meter went up one bar, so we figured we were right. Unfortunately, we didn't notice it going down to 2 bars until a while later, when we were in the middle of no where, heading to Dettifoss. When we got to Dettifoss, we were at 1 bar, and we asked everyone we passed for gas. No one had any.

Two girls offered to lead us to the nearest gas station they knew of in Myvatn, which was 50 miles away, and then drive us to the gas station if we ran out midway. Fortunately, someone else we asked came back to us and told us there was a gas station north of Dettifoss in a canyon called Asbyrgi. We ended up following them and luckily, we made it there without any problems and filled up. We asked the owner of the diner there where we could stay and he gave us directions to a little cottage called Keldunes. It was adorable, but unfortunately, I forgot to take photos. DSC_7240DSC_7248

That's how day 4 ended. Day 5 and 6 will be up soon!