Day 8 – Whales, volcanoes and caves

Myvatn, Iceland

For some ungodly reason I woke up at 3:30am this morning.  As experience has taught me – once I’m up, I’m up.  I quietly crept out of the dorm room and camped in the little alcove in the hallway outside with my trusty laptop.

I spent the wee hours of the morning planning for something big in the new year.  More details once this trip is over in a week…

Sorry for the tease…

At 9am we were checked out and ready to hi the road.  Today our plan was to drive for a little over an hour up to Husavik to do some whale watching.

On our way the weather took a nasty turn as, along with the blasting wind, snow began to fall.  We made a quick stop at Godafoss as the sun was rising to see the majestic waterfalls there.  After taking a plethora of photos while trying to keep my balance with the wind and the horizontal snow we hopped back in the car to continue our journey north.

Just before 11am we arrived in the little fishing village of Husavik.  We went directly to where the whale watching company was only to find the little booth empty.

Oh oh…

Sure enough, after giving them a call, I sadly found out their daily 11:00 trip wasn’t going to go today because of the inclement weather.


Well, we did the next best thing in town – a visit to the Whale Museum next door.  They actually had a tremendous array of information and items to look at.  They had displays on reproduction and life span to whale hunting and saving beached whales with everything in between.

The best part though… the museum also serves a dual purpose as they have green turf laid out on the floor along with 18 holes.  Yup, every day the seniors around town come by to play a round of golf inside the whale museum.  Ah, Iceland – gotta love it!

By then we were both pretty hungry as we hadn’t stopped for breakfast on our way out of town this morning.  We went to a little restaurant next door for lunch where I had a shrimp, leek and rice crepe.  It was just the perfect thing for lunch – light and savory.

As we drove towards our final destination for the day the weather turned nicer and the sun actually took a little peek from behind the clouds for a little bit.

The city of Myvatn is about 40 minutes south of Husavik and we arrived there around 3 in the afternoon.  We’re staying in a nice guesthouse along the lake called Vogafjlo’s.  The checkin office is at their restaurant/cow farm across the street.  Yes, you read that right.  You can actually see the cows through the window as you sit down and eat your meal.

Anyway, the woman at the front desk was immensely helpful with suggestions of what to do around the small town.  We grabbed our key and went to our double room in guest house 17.  The room was nice and warm when we entered and had a cozy little cabin feel.

Since the sun would be setting soon we headed straight back out to explore as many of the attractions that were pointed out to us as we could.

Our first stop was Hverfell, a dormant volcano crater just east of town.  We parked at the bottom and walked 400m up to the top.  As we walked up the marked path through the snow one thing became abundantly clear…

I am out of shape!

After stopping several times to rest and catch my breath, I finally made it to the top.  The 20 minute hike was definitely worth it as the view was spectacular and who knows when I’ll be on the top of a volcanic crater again.

We then had a little side adventure as Dorianne couldn’t find our key to the guest house as we were getting back in the car.  After a futile search around the bottom of the mountain it became obvious that it was either at the top or it had fallen out of her pocket when we stopped to take pictures of the info sign as the entrance.

I suggested we look at the entrance first and if we didn’t find it we could just ask for a replacement key.  No way I was going back to the top of the volcano to search for it.

Unbelievably when we got to the info sign there it was lying in the snow at the side of the road!

Crisis adverted!

We then checked out Grjotagja where there are small lava caves with thermal springs inside.  As the sun was setting I took Dorianne’s iPhone for a flashlight and headed (carefully) down into one of them.  The change in temperature is remarkable as the thermal springs are about 45C compared to the 5C outside.  Reluctantly I left the dark cave to return to the cold world outside and back to our hostel.

We had dinner at the restaurant where we had checked in – cows and all.  Since it was a tiny little restaurant where we essentially were the only people there my expectations for food were considerably lowered compared to the meals I had the last couple of days in Akureryi.

To my delight I was once again treated to a great meal here in the north of Iceland.  For a starter I had Arctic Char on Geysir bread (essentially rye bread made with the natural hot springs).  My main course was a huge dish of Lamb Shanks atop a medley of vegetables and potato along with a green salad.

Our server also offered us a complimentary shot glass of their Christmas wine.  It was so good I bought the shot glass!

By 6pm dinner was over and we tried unsuccessfully to see the northern lights as that time was pretty much the only window open where the cloud cover would be nil.  Alas, it just wasn’t meant to be!

We headed back to our room and checked out the weather service for Iceland in the coming week and we may have found a window open in the evening this Saturday when we’re down south near the Snaefellsjokull Glacier Park.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed…

In the days in between we’ll be heading to the east coast.  Tomorrow we’ll explore the other sights around Myvatn we didn’t get a chance to see today and then head east to explore Egilsstaðir before finally staying in Seyðisfjörður overnight.

One week left…

Icy Trip 2013, Trip Journal

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