"" Writer's Wanderings: Iceland - The Akureyri Area

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Iceland - The Akureyri Area

After a nice breakfast and another glance at the cow milking, we stopped into the cow barn to say goodbye. The little guys in the barn were really cute. A couple of pictures and we headed out to skirt the south side of Lake Myvatn where someone had suggested we not miss the volcanic craters.

There were quite a few cone shaped hills around the lake that had craters on top. According to the informational signs they were pseudo volcanic craters meaning they hadn't really erupted with lava flows but rather had belched gas which blew off their tops leaving a crater.

Some of our drive took us through the highlands as they call them. We passed up opportunities to get on the F roads. There were several marked by dotted brown lines on our map. Solid brown lines just indicated a gravel road and red lines were the paved ones. I could only imagine what those dotted lines were like.

At Godafoss,the Falls of the Gods, we learned another story. The falls got its name when in the year 1,000, the chieftain of the district threw idols into the falls as the country turned to Christianity.

There were so many vistas and landscapes along the way that would have made great pictures but we never would have made it to our destination if we had continued to stop. Plus there often was no place to stop and if someone was behind us, we couldn't stop in the middle of the road. Of course if the coast was clear, we did just that.

We passed through several nice small towns before arriving in Iceland's second largest city, Akureyri. It is a port city and we were not disappointed to see a cruise ship into port. It was a German cruise line and I imagined that the Myvatn Nature Bath would be very busy again in the afternoon.

Driving up the west side of the Eyjafjordur we stopped in a little town named Dalvik for lunch. There didn't seem to be a lot available but we had passed a little cafe in a wooden structure with a front porch that looked inviting so we found a spot to park and walked over to it. Inside were small tables and a quaint atmosphere. We inquired about menus and the waitress gave us a blank look, held up one finger to indicate "wait" and she went in the back room to get the proprietor.

When the owner came out she spoke very good English and told us there was only one lunch and that was fish soup with bread and a salad. Bob immediately answered, "Great!" I looked at him and blanched. I hate fish soup. I think the lady saw my distress and said she could give me plain vegetable soup--no fish. I gave her the most grateful smile I could manage and she gave me a huge bowl of soup--no fish. The salad and bread were terrific. The soup okay, but I was happy to have it without chunks of seafood in it.

Next up would be our adventure through three tunnels. I have an aversion to tunnels to begin with. I hate the thought of all those rocks and dirt above my head and wonder about the tunnel maintenance. Do they check them often? Are there cracks anywhere? You know, the usual paranoid-disaster-movie-fear. The tunnels that had two lanes were bad enough but then we were in one with only one lane and a turnout every 100 yards or so. What? Are they into playing chicken here? It was a white knuckle ride for me and I was so happy to see light at the end and know it wasn't truly because it was "the end."

Our drive ended up at Siglufjordur at the Siglo Hotel. This would be the largest hotel we would stay at in the two weeks of our visit. The hotel was only a year old and sat right on the harbour of the fjord. I had hoped we could do some laundry but there was no self serve laundry in the hotel. Laundry had to be turned in at 10 AM if you wanted it back by 6 PM and we were only staying the night. I doubted we would find a laundry service in town that would get it done by the morning.

When the fellow at the desk saw our dilemma he suggested we check out the camp ground just past the parking lot. That's a campground, I thought? To me it looked more like the town square. We walked over with a bag of Bob's underwear to wash and checked it out. On the bulletin board was a number to call to inquire about the laundry facility. Bob called and got all the instructions. First the key was hidden in one of the restrooms. We found that and promised we would leave the 700 ISK in the box on the wall to pay for our load.

What the man didn't tell us was how to work the machine which was all in Icelandic with symbols that made no sense to me at all. I took a deep breath, pushed a few buttons and it started. With a sigh of relief, we locked the door behind us and took a walk. When we returned the washer was still going. I figured I probably pushed a longer program but then when we returned again I realized this was taking way too long. An Austrian lady struck up a conversation with us. She was going to camp there for the night. We asked her about the washing machine but she had no clue either. Another camper finally got it to stop but now I was worried that maybe it hadn't rinsed the clothes. When I took them out they seemed okay so we put them into the dryer. The only problem was that an old flannel shirt I'd tucked in with the whities had faded and Bob's whities were a pastel blue. That shirt's been washed a hundred times before and not faded. Live with it, I told him. The dryer seemed to take forever as well and we went off to have dinner while we set it for another 40 minutes. Start to finish the laundry must have taken us over three hours for one load. What a way to spend an afternoon.

Our dinner of baked cod at a little restaurant called The Harbor House Cafe on the wharf was one of the best fish dishes we had the whole trip. It came with a delicious baked potato and veggies. After collecting our dried laundry on the way back to the hotel, I curled up in the window seat in our room. It looked out over the harbor and across at the mountains.

We checked the aurora forecast and it looked really good for this night. Maybe some clouds but at least the activity level was predicted to be moderate.  Bob was convinced that the best thing to do was get away from the town and since we were on the north side of Iceland if we found a spot looking out over the water to our north we would have a large viewing area. It sounded like a good plan until we went to scope it out and discovered we had to go through a tunnel--a one lane tunnel! Thankfully it was short and there wasn't any traffic.

Just beyond the tunnel was the perfect spot, a large pull-off area for viewing the ocean and nearby coast. Now we only needed the Northern Lights to get turned on. If the predictions were correct, it might be our last chance at seeing them.

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