Iceland - Day 4

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Eldborg Crater

Near Borgarnes

Near Reykholt

Snorri's Pool at Reykholt

Grábrók Crater

Second Grábrók Crater

Falls in Norðurárdalur Valley

A Closer View of the Falls

Hvitserkur off Vatnsnes

Beach at Vatnsnes


Holar Church

Another bright sunny day! We decided to buy a cooler so that we could take along our lunch every day. There was a superstore in Borgarnes across the street from the hotel, where we found a suitable cooler (not particularly insulated, but the right size for the 5 of us.) Another stop for food and ice and we were out of there.

We went northwest to the peninsula to see the moon-shaped crater Eldborg. After 30 - 40 minutes we arrived at a farm, where the farmer told us we could follow the trail and hike for an hour or so to get to the crater. We saw it in the distance, and it looked inviting, but we decided against it since there was much to do before we would arrive at our Wednesday accommodations.

So we retraced our tracks and went back toward Borgarnes, then east to Reykholt, to see Snorri's pool. Snorri Sturluson is said to be Iceland's greatest saga writer. (The sagas are a body of literature written in the 13th century, and are notable in that they were written in Icelandic rather than in Latin, as was the custom in Europe at the time. It is thought that the sagas are fiction, with complicated plots and subplots, a multitude of characters, and much action - read "killings, feuds, and conflicts.") Snorri's life must have been full of action as well. In addition to his writing, he was elected Law-speaker of the Althing, and was an ambassador to Norway. For his personal life, he married a wealthy woman for her money and the political power of her family, had several concubines, and at some point moved in with the richest woman in Iceland, all of which combined to make him the richest man in Iceland. His pool at Reykholt is one of Iceland's few archaeological remains. It was constructed of stones, without cement. Hot and cold water was piped in from separate springs, and could then be mixed to ensure the proper temperature. Not impressive today, but almost 800 years ago?

Then we turned north to the Norðurárdalur Valley, where we found the Grábrók craters. They are a pair of volcanic craters, and the surrounding lava fields. We climbed up and around one of the craters, enjoying the warm sunshine, and then had our picnic lunch. We saw Eric and June, Marie and Liz, and James and Pat - a British family. James and Pat were traveling with their daughters Liz and Rose, who were about the same age as Ali. The kids got along well and we were able to get together at several more points during the vacation.

Continuing on up Route 1, we found a lovely unmarked double waterfall. We climbed up beyond the falls to a crystal clear stream. Sheep had grazed these hills, but there were none there this day. (The kids are visible as tiny specks in the photo to the left, even if you expand it.)

Still traveling north, we reached the Húnaflói area, where there are more rivers and lakes and less volcanoes and lava. We decided to travel up the eastern side of the peninsula to see Hvitserkur, a "basalt outcropping rising 15 meters from the sea." We did succeed in finding it, although we didn't think it lived up to its billing, or the time it took us to find it!

Then we drove straight toward Sauðakrókur. On the way we passed a group of maybe 30 Icelandic horses and riders milling around in the middle of the road, and had a pleasant conversation with a kindly old Icelander who had spent 9 years in Vancouver, Canada. We arrived in Sauðakrókur at 6:45 PM and were charmed by the town, but unfortunately our write-up was misleading and our lodgings were not there. Tired but still with miles to go, we continued on to Holar, where we arrived at 7:30.

Our accommodations were a very nice cabin, which had two rooms off a center entry. Each room had a mini kitchen, and the entryway had a washing machine! Mike and Brian went running, and I washed clothes. Five people can sure generate a lot of laundry in 4 short days, and since there was no dryer I didn't want to have to leave in the morning with a lot of wet clothes. Luckily there were radiators in each of the rooms where we could dry the socks, and a clothesline outside where I hung a few shirts and some other items. Unfortunately a fog quickly rolled in.

We had dinner at the main building just before it closed at 9. It was quite good, and Mike had his first taste of "Icelandic vodka" - Brennivin. Actually not vodka, it is a caraway seed flavored drink, and is called "Black Death" - a shot of it is probably more than enough! The kids were hoping to swim in the pool after dinner, but it had closed at 8:30, so we just went back to our cabin and turned in after another long day.

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