Thursday, 4 August 2016

Blue Lagoon - the Icelandic wonder


Blue Lagoon looks like a large lake.


A week in Iceland had been spent gaping at one natural wonder after another. Only in the morning we had arrived at Reykjavik after a long drive from Akureyri. Last one week had us driving around 2400 km. And now late in the evening there was a chill in the air but we were lazing in a hot bath sipping beer. The bath was an open air natural wonder and the color of water was a different blue.  This was the famous blue lagoon of Iceland.

The Blue Lagoon in Iceland is their largest visited attraction. They call it a natural wonder of the world. It beats all the waterfalls, Glaciers, iceberg Lagoons, crater lakes, national parks, geysers and even the whale watching expeditions as far as tourist inflow is concerned. Many people transiting through Keflavik airport just come here to soothe themselves in the nice warm water.

In 70's a Geo thermal power plant was built near Reykjavik, not very far from Keflavik Airport. A pool accidentally came into existence from waste water from this plant and some people after bathing in it felt that the water had healing qualities. People started bathing regularly and in 1992 a Company was formed which built the facilities and 'the blue lagoon' came into existence.

The geothermal water originates around 2 km below the surface of these Lava fields. The  freshwater and seawater combine at extreme temperatures and then this water is harnessed via drilling holes at a nearby geothermal power plant to create electricity and hot water for nearby communities.
On its way to the surface, the water picks up silica and minerals and emerges at a perfect 38 deg to 40 deg C which is lovely to have a bath in.


The Lava fields near Reykjavik. Blue Lagoon is situated in their midst. 


When I asked the person at the counter at the facility why the water was so blue (it looked artificially blue) I was told that the geothermal water has a unique composition, featuring three active ingredients – Silica, Algae & Minerals. These minerals give the color to water and they have healing properties for lot of skin diseases. 

We had left the visit to the blue lagoon right to the end of our trip. Our thinking was that we could perhaps visit the bath at the Myvatn nature bath situated in the Northern side of the country on the way to Akureyri. These nature baths have also been rated very highly and had we actually managed to have  a bath there, our group of 7 would have saved Euros 750.00 ( Rs 56000). This is how the elements conspired to make us spend more money :

- We made no bookings for Blue Lagoon in advance as the intent was to have bath in similar Myvatn nature baths at the Geo thermal area of Myvatn. We were travelling that side and self drive vehicles with us. 
- If you book in advance the Blue Lagoon has 4 categories of tickets a) Standard : Euro 40 b) comfort : Euro 55 c) Premium : Euro 70 and d) Luxury: Euro 195. We would have booked standard as that is without any frills. All details can be got from the website www.bluelagoon.com
-  As we reached Myvatn area, it started pouring. As the rain did not stop even after several hours we skipped the lava fields and Geo thermal area and proceeded towards Akureyri. So, we missed out on the thermal bath. 
- A decision was then taken to book the blue lagoon tickets but as we were very near the date, most tickets were sold out. We finally got standard tickets for Euro 65 and for the same evening as we were reaching Reykjavik. They start messing around with ticket prices based on demand and supply. So each ticket came at a premium of Euro 25. And as Blue Lagoon is more popular than Myvatn, the price of ticket at Myvatn  is much cheaper at Euro 25.
-  On the return to Reykjavik we had to return our cars so there was no option but to go to Blue Lagoon by cabs. The cabs would not charge per vehicle but per person. And believe me, they charged hell of a lot.
Well, now that accounting is over, it is time to visit the blue lagoon.

 The Blue Lagoon- a natural wonder





It did not take too long to enter and once we had registered and handed over our customized wrist band we could operate lockers with it and also purchase anything to eat or drink. Payment for all extras were to be made at exit time.

The standard ticket gave us access to certain kind of lockers and showers.  It also gave us a silica mud mask to put on face.The premium ones would have given us a free drink, better showers, towels and Algae mask. We were smart and had carried towels from hotel.

Regulations says that shower without clothes is compulsory before entering. We followed all rules. 
The water has silica etc so use of conditioner in hair is recommended before and after bath. This is important as the hair can really go sticky. Conditioner and Shampoo is all provided there.

It was cool and crisp with temperature around 15 deg C so getting into warm 38 deg C water was great fun. There were loads of people and the the place was quite full. It had a lot of people but it wasn't cramped for space. The place is huge. Blue Lagoon is open till midnight and I think we were there around 8 PM and spent an hour in water. Adjoining the main pool there was another pool and a trainer giving some exercise training to those who had opted to do so. There was a pool bar which was quite popular and lot of people were having Beer. Many like us had put on Silica or Algae mud packs for some time on our face. At a price there are lot of facilities like massage, restaurants, spa and they even have a luxury hotel. 

For quite some time I stood under a waterfall and it felt great to have hot water massaging shoulders as it fell with great force. It took all the tiredness away.


Under the hot waterfall. 

Near where this waterfall was there were a few steam rooms and Saunas. We did justice to everything and spent time in each of these facilities.

All around the bath there are hills, lava fields, smoke and some kind of a smell. The drive to the facility is through lava fields. Many people describe it as a rotten egg smell but really - it wasn't that bad. It was some kind of a smell but one got used to it pretty quickly.


This is just outside the blue lagoon complex. The water is the same. 

It is just as well that we went to the blue Lagoon. Many people ask me how my trip to Iceland was and invariably the next question is : "How was Blue Lagoon ?"

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Tips for Iceland visit


Driving in Iceland and insurance muddle


 There are many car rental companies and local ones are better than international ones. We took cars from Go Car rentals and got 2016 models of vehicles. There are some other good ones like Lotus etc. which had been considered but then I asked the owners of Rey Apartments where we were scheduled to stay and they recommended Go Car rentals.

Make sure that you spend money and take adequate insurance for cars. I think we had super collision damage waiver (SCDW) or Grand collision damage waiver (GCDW) along with basic insurance. This restricted the liability to around Euros 300 to 500. We also had windshield protection insurance . Study the terms of insurance carefully and see if you require gravel and ash insurance or not. If you want to cross rivers or Fjords or go to highlands then only certain vehicles are allowed there and you need special insurance. A map is useful to know which are prohibited roads for your kind of cars.

GPS of course is a must. Set it to Icelandic keyboard and try to type in names of  places as written in guide books the Icelandic way.

GPS was extremely helpful


We were warned that winds could be a major factor and on opening the vehicle door on some days could be dangerous if the car was not facing the wind. The wind in that case could blow away the door and that is not covered in insurance. It could cause serious injury as well. Each morning go to website vedur.is and study wind patterns and speed of the area you plan to visit. This is best website for weather conditions in Iceland.

Each morning do study the road conditions on Vegagerdin website. This is important for winter months.

India driving license in English  is valid in Iceland and it should be issued at least 12 months prior to driving date in Iceland.

The ring road or Road no. 1 is in good condition and you can easily drive at 90 km/hr (the allowed speed limit). There are not too many cars on road so this 2 lane road appears sufficient as of now. As you reach a town the speed limit becomes 45-50 km/hr so be very careful as cameras are installed there.

As toilets are mainly found at gas stations, make sure you use them when required otherwise you may not get a place to go for a long time.

The Ring road is a basic 2 lane road but in good condition. There are a few narrow bridges on the way meant for a single vehicle so the other side has to stop. 


Though it is tempting to stop everywhere and anywhere when you see a spectacular view, it is advisable to stop only at designated areas. There are quite a few such areas.

A couple of days at Reykjavik is more than enough. It's a charming city but the charm of the country is when you get out and travel all around.

We did Golden circle on the day we went out of Reykjavik and then went upto Skogar on the same  day thus taking an anti clockwise route on ring road. This is a good decision as you get the real taste of natural beauty on the first 3 days of the drive itself. Please prefer to my earlier blogs on this.

Drinks and Food


The tap water is perfectly safe everywhere in Iceland. Even the streams, lakes and waterfalls have excellent drinking water. Carry empty bottles and fill them up with water wherever you go. No need to buy expensive water.

Great fun drinking pure water from streams
Even glaciers have great water
There are portions on ring road when you don't find a restaurant or a gas station for almost 100 km's. There are probably more active Volcanoes than restaurants in certain areas. Make sure car is tanked up and you have enough snacks in the car. 

In places like Hofn and Akureyri we were staying 8-10 km's from main towns. Restaurants shut by 9-9.30 PM and also we did not want to drink and drive. The apartments we stayed in had full kitchens and barbecues. We bought stuff from supermarkets and cooked at apartment in these places. Barbecue used to be great fun after the day's driving. Supermarkets had good marinated lamb, pork, chicken and potatoes for us to cook. You could also buy vegetables there.





Many of us Indians like our food to have some chilies and spice. I carried chili sauce and chili flakes in my bag pack all the time. This made steaks and fish more interesting in restaurants.

Icelandic food is mainly lamb, fish & all sorts of seafood . Their traditional lamb meat soup is very popular.  Fast food places are mainly in towns. But cafes in small places did serve hamburgers.

Liquor is expensive in Iceland so it's best to carry from duty free. In Akureyri we were told that bottled liquor is Govt controlled and available in just a couple of places.

For my Indian friends who like Indian food or vegetarian food- please be prepared to cook so carry some spices etc. Other than Reykjavik and perhaps Akureyri - Indian food would be hard to find. Packet food could be carried from India. Hire apartments with kitchens and buy grocery from supermarkets on the way. Lazing around in apartment and getting food of your choice at the end of the day is the ultimate luxury.


Photography


My DSLR camera was with me all the time. Waterproof clothing was very important.


Iceland is a photographer's delight. The summer is not the time for Northern lights as it doesn't get dark but still I would love to take full equipment like tripod and different lenses the next time I travel to Iceland as each place is unique and scenic. There are many strong waterfalls and each one has a distinct characteristic. I never thought that we will be touching Glaciers and lazing around them as if were an exclusive picnic spot for us.

Make sure you have extra battery for camera and enough high speed memory cards.

Cover your camera well when going on hi speed boat rides to Glacier lagoon or whale watching as water can destroy the lens and sensors. Even near the waterfalls the sprays are so strong that it is important to cover cameras. Simple formula is to keep some plastic in your camera bag.

As we walked behind this waterfall we were totally drenched and so were the cameras. 

Don't get too excited at the sight of sheep or horses on the first day itself and start clicking hundreds of pictures. You will find them plenty everywhere. Sheep outnumber humans in Iceland three to four times over so you may be deprived of human company at times but you will find plenty of sheep everywhere.

Clothing


Bring waterproof pants and water resistant shirts for visiting waterfalls or you will get soaked . It also rains quite a bit so they will come in handy. Carrying a towel around is also not a bad idea. In India these Columbia shops sell some good stuff for a trip like this. We bought the waterproof trousers, insulated shirts and sturdy shoes from the one in Ambience Mall, Gurgaon.

Dress in layers as it gets warm inside the car but could get very windy and cold as soon as you come out. An effective wind breaker is required before you get out of car. 

If you are going to snow areas or for a glacier walk, carry shades as the snow and ice can get very bright in sunshine. 

Shoes should be sturdy as you will walk a lot and in different terrains. For glacier walk they provide you with crampons but that is over some nice sturdy shoes which you should be wearing. 

Currency and credit cards


You can either covert Euros and Dollars into ISK  (Icelandic Kroner) in Reykjavik or some other big town. We exchanged some money at airport and some at Reykjavik. Other than that we didn't see any facility for money change anywhere.  ATM's are available in quite a few places. 

It is better to use ISK's for sundry purchases as Indian credit card companies charge high commissions on foreign transactions. I used to take out ISK's from ATM's using my debit card. 

Many gas stations are unmanned so one has to use credit cards with PIN. Make sure you remember your PIN. Otherwise in some places pre-paid cards for gas stations are available. 

I got very confused initially when I put in my debit card at gas station for full tank. They immediately debited me 25000 ISK even though I filled petrol for 8000 ISK. The SMS message I got was for 25K and I could not talk to anyone to get explanation. This was worrying. Later I checked my account and my bank had credited me the balance. What a relief !

Other comments


Teenagers got a taste of Glaciers, icebergs,hot pools, waterfalls and black sand.


We traveled with teenagers and they enjoyed themselves. They got Wi fi in all places we stayed in so they were happy in the evenings after full day of sightseeing. They did a lot of things which they don't get a chance here. Examples : hiking to top of waterfalls and behind waterfalls; hiking on glaciers; touching Icebergs; daily barbecue party and counting sheep !

Reaching Keflavik (airport) is not too tough from Europe. Many countries like Germany, Finland, UK etc have direct Iceland air flights. Keflavik is 45 minutes away from Reykjavik.

Taxis charge around ISK 12000 one way for upto 4 passengers from Airport to city centre. This is expensive as it is almost $ 100.00. Buses are convenient but they charge ISK 2700 per person. So, if it is just one or two people then it's best to take this bus. There is a discount on bus if you take it for return journey. Tickets can be bought from there itself. 

Even though Icelanders drive on right side of the road ( We, in India drive on left side) , driving was not stressful and we got used to it pretty quickly.

Iceland has just 3,20,000 people in the country. They are not very equipped for mega tourism and can only handle certain amount of people. Do book accommodation well in advance especially for summer months. Even excursions like Zodiac boat tours get sold out much in advance.

The 2 pin plug works so no problem about charging of gadgets and batteries. 

Make sure data roaming on your mobile is off. Mine was on for just 5 minutes as we landed and it cost in Rs 1100.00 ($ 20) due to incoming whats app and email messages. 

I decided to take a siminn SIM card for use in Iceland. It was for 2990 ISK and promised a lot of free calls and data. But it just did not work. I got a call from India which I did not even receive and I was asked to recharge the card. I recharged the card and barely used data and again the balance finished. Maybe I used it incorrectly or maybe did not understand the concept. 

You can see glaciers, Icebergs and many other things for no cost at all. But we spent money for Glacier walk and Zodiac boat ride for Icebergs. These were 2 most thrilling things we did. You could also add whale watching if you go north. Many people go for super jeep rides on glacier and these jeeps are awesome with huge tires. 

We did Blue Lagoon at an exorbitant cost.  Was it worth it or should we have done Myvatn hot bath ? Will write about it soon. Hope you read that as well. 


Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Driving in Iceland 5 - Sizzling earth, Gushing water and getting close to Arctic

The Geo thermal activity became a fascination for all of us. It smelt terrible though. 

The earth sizzles and smells but looks exotic


Being in Iceland gave me a fair idea now what earth must have looked like in nascent stages. There is no predictability in what you would come across next and after a couple of days we were no longer surprised by what came along as we drove from one place to another. This does not mean that fascination deserted us. Each new thing concerning nature fascinated us and we hungered for more. 

As we drove towards north Iceland and crossed the Myvtn lake area, we could see smoke from a spread out area. Many cars were parked there to see this wonderful Geo thermal phenomenon of this place called Námaskarð which earns its notoriety chiefly because of its sulfurous mud springs and steam springs. You can smell sulfur in the air and it is extremely overpowering. While the rocks sizzled and smoked, the gurgling sound of hot pools could be heard a few hundred yards away as it spurted small quantities of hot water. Pathways have been made and certain areas had been cordoned off to avoid accidents. We walked around these rocks, pools and the sizzling earth in a very disciplined manner. 

This is next to Námaskarð pass. The color and feel of landscape is very different in this area. I loved the way the road meanders in between the brownish hills.

The Myvatn area itself can surprise you by it's beauty as well as ugliness. Some parts of earth look as if the inside of the earth has erupted and come out on surface. Someone described it as earth turning upside down. The Myvatn lake is nice and was formed due to volcanic activity and nearby are sizzling lava fields as well as the Krafla Caldera. Krafla lava fields have walking trails and that is another experience as rocks could be hot and falling on them dangerous. Nature itself is strange. While these volcanic activities sound unattractive, they have produced areas having rare fauna and flora. The fish are the best and birds found here are rare. 

The boiling pool. I think it was 100 mtrs deep. It would keep gurgling and spitting.
My wife Devicka doesn't like strong smells but here surprisingly she looks very comfortable even as sulphur smell rules the atmosphere. 

Dettifoss- The strongest falls of Europe


While you get the views as per the photographs above, not very far from here are the strongest waterfalls of Europe called the Dettifoss. The falls are 100 metres (330 ft) wide and have a drop of 45 metres (150 ft) down to the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. While coming towards Myvatn we had taken a detour to go to Dettifoss as these falls are pretty famous. The road going to the falls was not too good but once you reach the destination, you feel refreshed seeing the gushing water. You have to hike down to the falls from the parking area. There were just basic toilets here and once again there were no tickets and no please to eat or drink. Many people were walking to another falls around 45 -60 minutes hike away. We didn't do that but lazed around and walked around. The water is slightly brownish here and it's all to do with volcanic activity. The area around Dettifoss is rough and rocky and it's difficult to believe that just a few km's away the grounds are green and lush. 


The sound is deafening as the Dettifoss plunges deep down the gorge. 


The Jökulsárgljúfur canyon cut by river and the rocky landscape near the Dettifoss waterfalls. 

The Northern Capital -Akureyri 


View from our apartment.of a town normally covered with clouds. Cruise ships come from Norway. 

One would have liked to spend more time at the Myvatn area as it had a lot to offer and lot of interesting 'nature' to offer including a Geo thermal hot bath, but it poured incessantly so we went for lunch. My son Kartik was interested in Volcanic caves and Krafla lava fields but as the rain refused to stop we decided to drive on to our apartment at Akureyri. Akureyri is the second largest town of Iceland and known as the Northern Capital. Our Halllandsnes Apartments were bang opposite the town on a hill and we had the sea between us. The apartments had in it's vicinity a gushing waterfall and it was boiling hot water !  It was while we were in Akureyri that Iceland played an important match of Euro 2016 against England and came out victorious. Iceland Captain Aron Gunnarsson was from Akureyri so the entire town went doubly wild. It was a night of celebrations all over Iceland. 

Victory of England meant all night of celebration and hangover the next day. 

We were in Akureyri for 2 days and our time in Akureyri was a relaxed time as we went for long walks, bathed in hot tub, had self made barbecue dinners and we went for a drive near the tiny but scenic airport and found a lovely Christmas shop. Christmas in Iceland is very different from rest of the world and not only do celebrations last many days but for the tiny population, it is the biggest social  networking time. As an excursion from here, we drove to the North town of Husavik on Arctic sea, famous as a Whale watching centre. Akureyri itself was pretty and had some good restaurants and supermarkets. After being in wilderness for last few days it was good to see some civilisation and to have some places to shop and good restaurants to have meals. 


After roaming around the whole day the hot tub in open was soothing. 

We enjoyed these barbecue dinners and had to shift in shade as it would rain each evening. 

Christmas shop. It was very sweet and interesting.


Husavik - A place for whale watchers



Husavik was a small little town ( population around 2300) and it seems that anyone who comes here does so for whale watching. They call it the Whale capital of Iceland. There is almost a guarantee of getting very close to whales. We had seen enough whales during the Alaska cruise so gave this a miss. It was also very cold and windy and the idea of being in a boat in Arctic sea for 3 hours was not very appealing. We met a few people who had been for a boat trip and they had all seen whales from close quarters during the trip. 

It had been a lovely drive and we drove through Goðafoss ( Waterfall of the gods). This was another spectacular waterfall and by now we had lost count of the number of amazing falls we had seen. 


Goofoss falls have a lot of stories associated with them.



This church is the landmark of Husavik. Don't miss the lavender coloured mountains behind the church. All over Husavik we found these lavender mountains.


The Arctic sea. Cross this and you are at Arctic circle. You can see full town of Husavik in this snap. 


End of driving


With this, we were almost done with what we had come to Iceland for. We would leave for Reykjavik the next day and would spend a day there. Blue Lagoon tickets had been bought and we planned to go there on the same day as we reached Reykjavik. It was expected to take us around 6 hours from Akureyri moving towards west Iceland and then to Reykjavik. Western Fjords and highlands are very famous in western part of the country but that is another world altogether and we had decided not to do it this time. I believe that is a tough drive.
The drive to Reykjavik was as scenic as what we had got used to. Though it rained incessantly, it was a pleasure driving on those curvy roads with mountains, rivers, lakes, sheep, horses and lush fields.
It was a relief returning the car to car rental agency as we had had no mishaps but then we were equally sad to end this 7 days of driving in the most beautiful country that we had ever visited.

From 7) above we drove to Reykjavik 8) in around 6 hours (including stoppages and lunch). 

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Driving in Iceland 4 - Moving East from the world of Icebergs to the dream fjord town of Seydisfjordur

Around midnight, this is how a mountain at Seydisfjordur looked. 

Continuing another day in Hofn


It was a sheer luxury staying 2 nights in one place. It was a pleasure to get up in the morning and not worry about packing and moving on. The morning was overcast and the overnight rain had thankfully cleaned up the cars. One could laze around with a cup of tea in hand and iPad in front. We had no agenda for the day other than go back 80 km's in the direction of Skatafell for our Zodiac boat ride at the glacier lagoon. But that was at 5.30 in the evening. A full day was ahead of us and as we were not the types to cozy in into our quilts we decided to visit the town of Hofn which was just 6 km's ahead. 

Hofn turned out to be a town of 2000 people. It is one of the rare places which has a harbour. Being surrounded by glaciers and being in the vicinity of mighty mountain Vatnajökull , it has a few glacial lakes. Fishing is predominant occupation in this area. It was a cold and windy morning and we could not find any place open which served the breakfast other than the lone supermarket's bakery. 

The Viking Cafe




There was a tourist centre open and they showed us a few places on the map that we could visit. 
One of them was a remote place which had something called the Viking Cafe. The cafe was shut when we reached there but place was pretty on the black sand sea with a fabulous view of the glacier. I understand that a farmer owns all the land and beyond a certain point you have to pay him to go to Viking Village and rest of the land. The next day as we moved towards east of Iceland, we realised this Viking cafe was on the way - just off the main highway. 

Finding the Glacier


Glacier is not something that can be hidden. This spectacle of river of Ice flowing down the mountains for several miles is exciting for anyone who loves nature. We heard a lot of stories about Icelandic glaciers retreating and we actually saw some points from where to where the glaciers had retreated in last 4 decades. We were advised to book a super jeep ride on glacier. These formidable monster jeeps take you all over the glacier. But money was restricted and this activity was expensive so we went to find an approachable glacier. I think the one we found was called Vatnajökull or maybe it was part of this glacier called something else. We turned off the beaten path on a gravel road and meandered closer to that big ice river for several km's. There was no trace of humanity here. Finally we came to a place from where a narrow bouncy bridge took us to a lagoon and we were soon touching a glacier. 
Anywhere in the world near a glacier you will find glacial sports activities, crowds, experience centre, glacial museum and a hefty fee when you reach so close to a glacier. Here we could have a private picnic on the glacier with no one around for at least 30 km's. And it was all without any entrance charges !



In the wilderness. Real wilderness. We had mountains, lakes, lagoons, suspension bridge and a glacier all to ourselves for several hours. 

Up and close a Glacier looks formidable.

 Jokulsarlon Lagoon - too good to miss




This lake is something you fall in love with at first sight. If you are driving from the side of Skatafell towards Hofn you see lovely glistening glaciers from far and then suddenly the landscape changes into something brown and undesirable. You see several sand dune type things but they hold no interest as you have got used to freshness and beauty. Suddenly you reach near this lagoon and you gasp seeing these huge icebergs in different shades of blue floating in the lake on the left side of the road. Then you look at the right side and huge expanse of Atlantic Ocean greets you with many Icebergs drifting away. Some had seals on them. Wow. Just wow.

This had been our experience yesterday while driving towards Hofn. Today we were coming back to take a ride on a speed boat in the lagoon in what is called a 'Zodiac boat tour.' This boat ride had been pre-booked ( http://icelagoon.is/zodiac-tours/) by us more than a month back. Sure enough , those who had not pre-booked were either going back disappointed or taking another ride in what is called Amphibian boat tour. In Zodiac boat tour there were 10 of us in a speed boat which takes you very close to the Icebergs (and allows you to touch them) and takes you very close to the Glacier from which these icebergs were breaking off. Amphibian was a large boat with 40-50 people and did not look exciting.

This Glacier used to fall directly into the Atlantic Ocean but has since last few decades retreated several km's creating this deep lake. Zooming at high speed and maneuvering of speed boat between the icebergs was as exciting than anything else during this trip. The cold wind was biting but could not take the thrill away. We had been given these big waterproof outfits to wear and we could thankfully wear them over our jackets as it was around 10 deg C and very windy and cold. We saw seals jumping around ; we touched the icebergs; we saw one break ; we saw some that were as big as a ship; we broke part of one and tasted it also and then Kunaal and I wanted to take it back to apartment to put in our whisky ! It would have been fun having a drink with Ice which probably was a hundred years old.



All zipped up and ready

Cold but fun

Each Iceberg had a different colour and each Iceberg had different shades. It is all due to refraction, compression and loads of other reasons that these blue shades are attained. 
After this expedition we just rushed to the market to buy whatever we could for dinner. Only the shop at the petrol station was open so we picked up whatever we got. Tomorrow morning we would be moving on towards the North East towards the eastern Fjords.

Seydisfjordur : What a lovely town. And what a great drive. 


A dreamy sleepy town next to the Fjords. The lake adds to the charm.

Seydisfjordur turned out to be a dream town. It was a 3 hour dream drive from Hofn . We were now moving into less traveled territory. The intent was to stay somewhere near the ring road and do a car trip to the Eastern Fjords. At the time of booking hotel Aldan here I did not realise that we were literally on the Fjords. Just behind the mountains in above picture the Fjords start and you can touch the Atlantic ocean. 

I call it a dream drive as we took a right turn from the ring road from near the famous town of Egilsstadir and then the climb started. We crossed the mountains and snow and waterfalls and were enveloped by clouds for quite a distance. It was a bit scary to drive but thrilling as the temperature dropped to 5 deg C at one point. Then we descended into a valley which looked divine. It even had a small golf course with several natural waterfalls. Pictures will tell the story. This is how our drive looked like : 

Landscapes kept changing and clouds kept playing. This was soon after crossing the tunnel near Hofn
Some pretty places on the way having humans.

You want to break the journey and start picnicing
The climb started soon after  Egilsstadir
As we climbed the mountains it became so beautiful.


The mountains kept changing colors


No one around for miles

As soon as we checked in Kunaal announced that he would just relax here and not go anywhere at all till next morning. This idea at that moment appealed to me. So we chilled over some local brew some great fish. After lunch while we rested a bit, the children hired the bikes and went to explore the town. They were pretty amused to see the sparse population & hardly any shops in the entire town. They did count 10 or 12 waterfalls. 

Local Beer in perfect setting


I don't think anyone actually believed that I would let them rest for more than what was required. Soon we were off on a gravel road towards the Fjords. We hiked, sat around the river, admired the fjords and were back for some partying with newly made friends as the mountains turned golden. 

This river will go into the sea just 100 m ahead.



Had some interesting company for drinks in the evening


Day 5 drive


Today we drove just a short distance from Hofn (between 3 & 4 below) to Egilsstadir (5 on map) and turned right to Seydisfjordur. Tomorrow we will come back to Egilsstadir and go North towards Akureyri ( 7 on map) via Myvatn area and not through Husavik as is on the map.