Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Drive to Akureyri (pics to come - promise)

Another day is complete though again, it sure doesn't feel like it!! It's 10:40pm and the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and people are out enjoying the weather. This whole 24 day light thing is terrible for the night owl!! I wouldn't sleep.

So yesterday was a national holiday. We thought something might be up when we tried to pick something up on our way out of town and nothing was open and the streets were awfully quiet for 11am Monday am. As we found out at the end of the day, it was to mark Iceland's independence from Denmark barely 70 years ago. We hit the road for Akureyri in the Northern region of Iceland. There are two ways to get there. There is the highway #1 (we all have one I guess) which runs up the west coast of the island, and the Highland Rd which runs right up the middle. The highland road is only open for part of the year due to impassable terrain and weather conditions. It opened only recently so naturally it seemed the route to take. Plus, we had a 4x4.

We first were on the Golden Circle which is the super touristy stretch because it hits a bunch of scenic stops at once. The weather was not nice for this first stretch but I'm so glad we saw what we did. Our first stop was  ├×ingvellir, the actual continental rift between the North American and European plates. It was pretty cool and for four of us, the true first step onto European soil.  We walked around a bit and set off again.

Stop number two was at Geyser where we saw... Geysers!! One very large geyser erupts nearly every ten minutes so we were treated to that multiple times. All over the park there are steaming ground holes with bubbling and churning water up to 100*C. The steam is very strong smelling of sulphur but its pretty cool! The ditches all around the park steam and run with water ready for a tea bag.

The third stop was Gullfoss, the "Golden Falls" a spectacular waterfall.

Finally we hit Haveravollum, a park with a small geo thermally heated hot tub and more steaming pockets and puddles. This pool was actually so hot we could barely get in. It was still cold and drizzly so we went into the little shop for hot chocolate and cookies. From here we were half way to our destination and drove non stop.

The sun came out and the temps went up as we neared Akureyri. The scenery coming into this town was incredible. After hours of dark brown moon-like landscape with far off glaciers we hit lush farm land nestled between huge snow capped mountains. Little farms along the way, many sheep and horses and flowing rivers accented the terrain.

We arrived at our little apartment rental and fell in love immediately. The downtown core is quite adorable and we are steps away, though on a very quiet street. A little view of the water and chiming church bells just loud enough to be charming finish it all off.

It was late when we arrived but bright and sunny. We were very hungry so we set out down the hill for dinner. World famous burgers at 10 it was!!! We capped off the evening by a walk around downtown which was flooded with people celebrating their independence. Live musicians, dancing in the street and kids everywhere.

The house has good blinds but it felt like such a waste to go to bed, even by 12:30am. The sun was still shining and birds still chirping when I fell asleep.

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