May 7, 2017: Akureyri Botanical Gardens, Godafoss, Grjotagja Cave, Myvatn Nature Baths, Namafjall
(we wound up spending more time in each place than we initially thought, so we didn't make it to Krafla or Dettifoss on day 4)
Day 4 finds us waking in Akureyri, but there's so much that we wanted to see in the Myvatn area that we kinda skipped over Iceland's fourth largest city (largest city outside of the Reykjavik area) - we really didn't give Akureyri a fair chance. It was a very lovely city; tons of parks, green space, water and mountains all within sight! I think on my next trip to Iceland I'll definitely spend at least a couple of days here!
We did make a quick breakfast stop at a bakery called Bakaríið við brúna, highly recommended! The bakeries in Iceland are AMAZING!!! Everything is just so fresh and delicious! Tried a sandwich type thing and a donuty-looking thing, neither of which had a name that I could even remotely try to pronounce but both were absolutely delicious!
We also made a stop at the Botanical Gardens at the recommendation of our AirBnB host, which given that it was still the off season they were still very beautiful. Looking at their website now you'd assume the gardens were closed in May - this was not the case - they were open to wander around, however all the facilities (bathrooms, cafeteria etc) had not opened yet for the season.
I loved the architecture on the Botanical Gardens Cafe - so awesome! Too bad it was closed heh.
Primula x Polyantha was the label next to these lovely reddish pinkish yellow centered flowers
The fountains weren't on and not everything was blooming yet, but there were a bunch of very beautiful flowers and plants! There are a bunch of arctic plants that I've never seen before that are really adorable. They grow super close to the ground because it helps them resist the wind and cold that far North.
I loved these little flowers - they are so unique and such a lovely shade of red!
'Saxifraga Marginata Mjallarsteinbrjótur' is what these flowers were labeled as, but when I G**gle this it doesn't come up so I'm not sure of their actual name.
Then, back in the car. Next stop:
Are you sick of waterfalls yet? No? Me neither! Each one is so uniquely beautiful and leaves you completely awestruck!
Another thing I love about Iceland is that they haven't gone overboard with the safety measures (like many places in North America) and you can get as close to the falls as you feel comfortable!
Two rivers meet and become one at the head of Godafoss, it is so amazingly beautiful!
The way the water has run through Godafoss has created these very intriguing striations in the rock. I found them absolutely fascinating!
It's hard to describe the magnitude of Godafoss - it's just massive!
We spent a couple hours experiencing the beauty of Godafoss before making our way on to:
Everything around Myvatn is so picturesque! And there's so much to do there! We stopped at a bunch of little pullouts just to take a look around, stretch our legs, and explore the area.
Grjotagja Cave was our next stop, very neat little place. You used to be able to bathe in the water there until the Krafla eruptions increased the temperature of the water drastically. It is now prohibited to bathe or swim there, but you can still go in and explore it and take photos!
It is so magical inside the cave! The cave is steaming, and the colors of the rock and the water are just beautiful. It's crystal clear and you can see straight to the bottom (so clear in fact, that you can see the only blemish in the depths - where some jack*** has littered a card of some sort). You can also see where the steam actually left burn marks on the rock in the ceiling (I'm assuming from when Krafla erupted).
Also, for my Game of Thrones fans, this is the cave where Jon Snow and Ygritte canoodled.
After Grotagja, we dropped our bags at our hotel, Elda Guesthouse, and checked out the rooms and surroundings. Our room was clean and comfortable, but there were no double beds available (May is still off peak season so not all of the rooms were open) so we wound up with two singles. Also, the individual rooms do not have bathrooms - they are shared with everyone else in the hallway. It is close to everything, easy to find, and perfect for a night or two in Myvatn.
Then we headed to the Vogafjós Cow Shed Cafe for dinner. This place is great! It's on a farm, so you can literally go hang out with the cows while you're waiting for your food to be prepared! Slightly disturbing to think about if you order the burger, but I had the fish ;-) The food is to die for! I had the arctic char, and it was seriously the best fish I have ever had in my life!!!
Is that an udder? Omnomnom!
There is a giant crater at Myvatn called Hverfjall. Since we had climbed up to Eldborg the other day we decided against doing this one, but I kinda wish we had. It is massive! This huge black crater just towers over the Myvatn area.
Instead, we went to check out the Myvatn Nature Baths, which felt absolutely amazing after a couple days of dayhikes! The water is amazing! The water doesn't have quite the same hue as that of the Blue Lagoon, but it's close, the baths are less packed than at Blue Lagoon (although smaller area), and the scenery is better! You have Hverfjall Crater to one side, Myvatn Lake to another, mountains in the background, it is just such a beautiful place to visit. And the hot mineral water really helped with the sore muscles ;-) At one point while we were sitting there I could see two teensy tinsy dots moving across the top of Hverfjall - it was two people wandering around the top of the crater!
After the baths, we headed over to what I have nicknamed the stankland - actually called the Namafjall geothermal area. This place is also known as Hverir Hverarönd. The mudpots are very cool to watch - it almost looks like bubbling grey clay that spurts and pops!
This place is really neat, but smells freakin awful! It's not recommended to stay there very long or you might get a headache! Especially if you are downwind of the fumes.
Photo Credit: Elijah Martinez
Definitely worth checking out though, the ground bubbles and sputters and pops and fizzes and makes all kindsa crazy noises. It almost feels like a volcanic eruption could happen at any second!
It was around 11 pm by the time we left Namafjall - but another awesome thing about Iceland is that starting around end of April beginning of May the daylight hours are crazy long! Dusk maybe happens around 11 or 12 and it only really got dark for maybe an hour or two when we were in the North. As the summer draws on they wind up with 24 hours of daylight!
Day 5 will be up soon! Krafla, almost dying crossing the snow bridge. Dettifoss! The most powerful waterfall in all of Europe! Rainbows n pots o gold n leprechauns! and lotsa driving driving driving heh.