Days: 446 (14 September 2015)
Total distance travelled: 117,247.8 kilometres (72,824.7 miles)
The four hundred and thirty five kilometre day we had ahead of us from Mjóanes Farm to Hali always promised to be our longest, and under grey skies (not too dissimilar to the previous morning) we got under way.
We had few specific sights we were aiming for, rather today was set to be a day of chewing through some distance, and hopefully, weather permitting, enjoying some of Iceland’s stunning countryside.
Still, that didn’t mean our first small leg of the day wasn’t a detour, heading towards one of the easternmost fjords and the small community of Seyðisfjörður.
This required a sudden climb over the mountains, courtesy of a series of switchbacks, and the loss of our scenic views was almost instantaneous.
From the get go, we were in amongst the fog.
Eventually the road levelled out, however the fog showed little sign of lifting as we crossed Fjarðarheiði, the highland bog that separated Egilsstaðir and Seyðisfjörður.
At one point there appeared to be a vast tract of water on either side of the road, however it wasn’t until we were close to making our descent down into the fjord that some semblance of visibility returned.
But it almost immediately had us pulling off the road.
From the periphery of our vision we’d caught a brief glimpse of something.
Another stunning waterfall!
This was Gufufoss (the name I learned later thanks to Google), a waterfall not mentioned anywhere during our online research for the trip, but one we thought probably deserved at least a passing mention here.
From here, it was but a few short minutes into town, the cute yet sleepy Seyðisfjörður.
With its brightly coloured wooden homes and lovely fjord, this small town of roughly eight hundred or so is actually one of the passenger gateways onto the island, with a ferry running between here and both Denmark and Norway.
At the time of our visit however, there was no ferry in port, nor was there much action in town as well (sadly the local brewery wasn’t yet open for the day either).
Under a light drizzle, we gave ourselves a brief DIY tour of the town, admiring the ridiculously cute building which houses a Swedish consulate and chuckling at the translation on a bridge dictating that fishing from that particular location was ‘probithed’!
Just like that we were done, eager to continue on our way rather than dwell in this cute little village on what was shaping as a dreary kind of day.
Although the skies remained grey, the scenery was indeed beautiful, and it was a morning that may sound repetitive when it reads that we simply spent the remainder of our morning hugging the coast and winding our way from one fjord to another.
The views were indeed spectacular, even if the day was a little on the fresh side.
By early afternoon we’d hit a scenic spot overlooking (you guessed it a fjord) the water on the fringes of Stöðvarfjörður, another small hamlet, famous for a lady who collects rocks… and now charges a fee for people to visit.
As we tucked into our sandwiches we decided that rocks weren’t really of interest to us today, although we did give ourselves a few extra minutes to go and check out an old church, that has now been converted into a bed and breakfast!
Having earlier driven through a tunnel which reduced our required journey considerably, upon emerging out the other side, the mood for the day had immediately lifted.
Gone was the heavy grey cloud, there were even patches of blue and on occasion, glimpses of the sun!
In better spirits, we just continued on our merry way, marvelling at the sights around us, here, pictures serving far better than words.
We even discovered a few surprising facts (thanks to some information signage at a random stop), chief of which was the island had in fact been attacked by Algerian pirates back in 1627!
Who’d have thought…
We’d followed the coast for essentially the whole day, and whilst that didn’t change, eventually we were cruising along cliff tops rather than snaking in and out of fjords, even this giving way to bays, lagoons and a vast black beach we just had to stop and investigate.
Turns out there was no sand to be found here, rather time worn pebbles, some so smooth and shiny you’d swear they’d been buffed by a machine!
As Julie (Sarah’s mum) wandered off in search of natures bathroom (a difficult task in this flat expanse), we continued our wander before I took to utilising these flat, smooth stones for a bit of rock skipping across the surface of the nearby lagoon.
It was a beautiful place, and I was so interested in the smooth rocks which were the beach, a couple found their way into my coat pocket.
By now on the home stretch, at least as far as today was concerned, for the first time we also found our eyes turning more landward then seaward for a change.
It wasn’t mountains however that had captured our gaze… nor was it the rare sight of an Icelandic wood or a quirky little village.
Rather, it was something immense and completely awesome.
It was the gargantuan Vatnajökull glacier which remained with us for the rest of the day!
It was so immense we could still see it from our lodgings for the night, I’d like to say a bit of a treat being close to (if not being) the most expensive place at which we’ve bunked on this trip.
Sadly, that’s just Iceland prices for you!
Still, we were able to enjoy a delicious dinner of local fare at one of two nearby restaurants. A real splurge indeed where we enjoyed delicious roasted lamb, and an equally as good local catch from the sea.
With full stomachs and a bottle of wine shared between us, the girls were soon in bed and our day was seemingly done.
However, we’d earlier noted what was looking like our first night with partly clear skies since Blönduós, so I’d kept one eye at the window, even occasionally wandering out into the fresh night air to scan the skies.
About an hour shy of midnight there was some reward for my diligence, and after quickly rousing my slumbering companions, we piled into our car to find a darkened spot along the highway (the lights around Hali were just too bright).
There, we rounded out our day watching a beautiful display of the Northern Lights…
* Our hire car for our loop around Iceland cost us $144,590.97 ISK ($1,553.96 AU, which breaks down to $258.99 AU per day, or $86.33 per person, per day)
* We purchased $27,846.00 ISK ($299.49 AU) worth of fuel during our island loop, which was 141.81 litres of fuel.