Akureyri – Capital of North Iceland

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Akuyeri

On the 27th June, we had a very short travel day.  The day trip from Húsavík (the most north we would go) to Akureyri (the 4th largest town in Iceland) was only about an hour and a half, and just shy of 100km.  It was an overcast day, with a little rain.  After all the driving we had done to get to the half way mark of our Iceland Journey, we were looking forward to a 2 day break of rest and relaxation.  We were promised a day off, where we were not expected to be anywhere in particular.

 

Leaving Húsavík, we reflected on what was a wonderful time on the sightseeing boat, seeing whales (at least for me) for the first time. We worked our way along the coast and then inland toward a mountain to follow the length at the base. Steering through 2 giant peaks we found ourselves back by the Arctic Ocean and down toward a wonderful man-made road through the middle of the bay into the heart of the town.  After a couple of wrong turns we found our home for 2 nights on Gránufélagsgata (the name of the street), one road back from the port.  As we found in Seydisfjordur, a Ferry/Ocean Liner was berthed, not 200 metres away.

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As we settled in for the evening, we were pleased to find our home was equipped with a hot tub in the rear yard.  Just turn on the tap to fill it up.  The hot water in Akureyri doesn’t come from any boiler in the back, it was piped in from some geotherm found deep below us.  It was constant hot water and we could just keep it flowing if we wanted to.  A large (6-8 person) hot tub was full within 45 minutes.  What a wonderful way to spend the day, with a glass of bubbly and a drizzle of rain.  According to records, the temperature of the day didn’t go about 13° and bottomed out at 10°.  We didn’t care.  What we needed to concentrate on was making sure the rain didn’t fill up our glass before we drunk it.  What a great time we had.

We were somewhat oblivious as to the importance of this day in Iceland at the time.   It was national, “Lets Kick England out of the European Cup Day”.  Check out this short 1:28 video of the celebrations we heard from about 600 metres away as we rested upstairs enjoying our dinner.

Mývatn Nature Baths

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Akureyri to Mývatn Nature Baths

Landscape_Above_Grjótagjá_caves_(1)The 28th of June was the rest day, so we thought we’d go for a little drive. Did I say rest?  The drive was around about double the distance we drove the previous day.  The Mývatn Nature Baths are similar in many respects to the Blue Lagoon (something we promised ourselves once we reached Reykjavik).  Some reviews had it as a better location than the Lagoon; others had it smelling putrid like rotten eggs.  This was to be expected anyway.  It was an Icelandic natural hot water bath; that’s what they smell like.
Travelling there was an eye opener to yet another different view of the landscape.  As we approached the baths, on the eastern side of Lake Mývatn, we found ourselves amongst an ancient lava flow, since destroyed by further movement in the earth.  The lava in many places was pushed up against itself in the same fashion as we have seen where an earthquake forces bitumen into a peak.  This island has seen some massive events in the past!  As an aside; the picture above (Grjótagjá by Petr Brož, a Czech Republic photographer) is the roof of a cave seen in Game of Thrones, season 3 called “Kissed by Fire”

Despite these amazing landscapes, we were headed to our little piece of paradise for a couple of hours.  Off to the baths…

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Mývatn Nature Baths

Just a sidenote: The name “Mývatn” comes from 2 words.  Vatn is Icelandic for Water. Or in this case, because it is attached to another word, it becomes Lake. Mý is Icelandic for “Midge” or blackfly, or gnat.  So in-effect it means Midge Lake.  How did it become named?  There are apparently a huge number of midges that arrive in the summer.  I personally didn’t notice. Maybe they don’t like sulphur?

Our return home was a rather tiring one.  We had certainly deserved a day off, but the 3 hours total driving was slowly wearing us down.  Was it worth the drive?  Absolutely!  When we were planning our trip all those months ago, we intended to stay near Mývatn, but the accommodation was scarce and very expensive.  It is such a beautiful area, and nothing like any person who has lived their life in Australia could imagine.  I won’t try and explain it to you.  Check out a few Google Images on Mývatn to see what it’s really like, or just visit like we did.

As things go in Iceland, there is no simple, “just drive home”.  Goðafoss was on our original route, but was forgotten when we changed our trip to stay at Húsavík.  On the road back we couldn’t’ miss it. It’s right on Route 1, Iceland and is a pretty decent sized tourist stop (minus the 700Kr instant coffee).  I can barely believe we missed it on our trip out.  It’s a horseshoe waterfall that to me, was one of the most beautiful we had seen.  What do you think?

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Goðafoss from the river Skjálfandafljót

 

We finally arrive back.  I managed to buy a jacket, a few presents for people and enjoyed a walk through the main shopping streets of Akureyri where a few photographs were taken.  If I get back to Iceland (and I know I will), Akureyri is definitely a place to return, for more than 2 nights.  What a wonderful place.   Look out for the photo’s of Julia and Trevor below.  You won’t be disappointed.  What a couple of days.  Now to travel into the famous Westfjords of Iceland.

Kitchen Shot

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Akureyri – Kitchen Shot

 

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