Day 5: Mývatn Nature Bath – Grjótagjá caves – Dimmuborgir – Goðafoss – Akureyri – Christmas Garden – Hvítserkur – Borðeyri
Day 5 was my actual birthday! We woke up in a campsite next to lake Mývatn and after having our usual breakfast of granola, yogurt and black coffee, we headed to Mývatn Nature Bath – this was Calum’s treat for me. I love anything where I can swim or soak!
Mývatn Nature Bath
Because it was such a cold day – around 5 degrees Celsius and pretty much horizontal rain, the entry ticket was slightly discounted. We arrived around 11am and it was reasonably quiet. The water wasn’t as hot as it normally is apparently but I think it added a bit of charm – having to find warmer spots and trying our best to hide our faces away from the rain. In a comparison to the Blue Lagoon, this place is not as stylish but it feels much more authentic. Facilities are clean and maybe a bit outdated but it didn’t bother us at all.
After soaking and swimming for over an hour, we had hot chocolates at the cafe and Calum tried lava bread (Hot Spring bread cooked using thermal energy) with smoked trout – I’m a vegetarian so didn’t try any of that, but to be honest I don’t think Calum loved it that much, as he left some of it. This open sandwich had such a strong smell of ash!
Our next stop was Grjótagjá caves – they became hugely popular after GOT was filmed there. These caves are small lava caves with thermal spring inside – people actually used to bath in there, sadly it is too hot these days so we couldn’t go for a dip. However, when we were there, young guys in their swimming trunks kept diving in as apparently one of them lost his car keys in water…
Caves are really cool and it is fun to touch the water; unfortunately because it is so dark inside it was hard to take good photos. And here is a little tip, everyone always heads for the bigger cave right next to the car park but actually a few meters away there is a smaller cave which was completely empty when we got there.
Next we headed to Dimmuborgir, which is a huge area of unusually shaped lava fields. It is a big nature park now with lots of different walks and trails running through it. Because the previous day was so long, we both were pretty tired so didn’t fancy walking for too long; we did a quick lap around it and headed back to our van.
We had quite a lot of driving to do on this day, as we were hoping to reach West Fjords by the end of the day. During the drive we quickly stopped at Goðafoss waterfall – is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. The water of the river Skjálfandafljót falls from a height of 12 meters over a width of 30 meters. In the year 1000 the Lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði made Christianity the official religion of Iceland. After his conversion Þorgeir threw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall.
The weather was terrible by this point, so we didn’t spend much time there either. But we did walk to the very edge – waterfall looked stunning! It is another popular destination, so it was pretty crowded. I do have a good skill of taking photos without people in them, if I say so myself. So please don’t trust all the photos you see form Iceland on internet – it is packed with tourists in summer time!!
After a few hours of driving we finally got to Akureyri – the northern capital of Iceland at the base of a fjord. It is a very lively city with tons of things to do, but the only stop we made was a bakery…I know, we have our priorities in order. Sadly we haven’t taken any photos of pastries, but they were huge! And that’s pretty much all we ate the rest of the day. It was my birthday after all.
Celebratory chocolate milk in Akureyri
The Christmas Garden
After eating pastries and drinking chocolate milk, I made Calum drive to The Christmas Garden. I’m a huge Christmas enthusiast, the tree goes up at least a month before the 25th of December in our house. Christmas house is a fun little place to wonder around. From the outside it looks like ginger house and they have the worlds largest advent calendar in there. The cafe and gift shop looked great too, but after eating pastries from this bakery in Akureyri we couldn’t justify having more food. Definitely a good stop for anyone who likes Christmas or is below the age of 5…unfortunately this didn’t make a list of Calum’s Icelandic highlights but I loved it!
As the weather stayed wet and cold all day, we only stopped at Hvítserkur before finding a place to stay for the night. Hvítserkur is a basalt stack that looks like a drinking dragon. It is a bit of a detour from the main road and when we were there it was so quiet and we only saw a few more cars along the way. Again, being tired and cold we didn’t bother going down to the beach and just took a few photos from the edge of the cliff.
I probably have mentioned previously that our plan was to drive around West Fjords, which meant leaving the main road behind for a few days. Not too far away from turning north from the A1 we found a village of Borðeyri and there was a brilliant little campsite right next to the water.
After parking up we cooked my birthday feast which consisted of mash potatoes topped which mac’n’cheese. Let’s be honest, this wasn’t our healthiest day but it was my 30th birthday which is fantastic excuse to eat carbs all day. We drunk a fair bit of bourbon and fell asleep listening to wind and rain outside.
Stay tuned for more, only 3 more days to go…