Thursday, 25 July 2013

It’s not so grim up north, we had a whale of a time!

As a proud Yorkshireman and wee Scottish lassie, we have always known that the north is the best at home and it´s not bad in Iceland either. 

The 400km drive, fuelled only by hotdogs and coffee, became more exhilarating as we encountered snow-capped mountains, verdant valleys and white water gorged ravines.

On our first night, we camped next to Goðafoss (goða = god and foss = waterfall). We thought this would be a lovely place to sleep on our way to the north, but little did we know that we would accidently discover our new favourite way to explore Iceland’s most popular sights…

We arrived around 10pm and checked into the campsite, which we had all to ourselves. After setting up camp we found that we could finally satisfy both of our desires at the same time…

Rob loves beer, Louise loves waterfalls
The night got even more magical as we took a midnight walk to the waterfall without seeing another person. When we awoke in the morning to see the Goðafoss carpark crammed with tour busses, we decided to explore as much of Iceland as we can with the midnight sun. It’s easy to do here because it never gets dark during the summer months, not even for a second.

Husavik, Iceland’s whale watching capital, was our next destination. Well we have to do something during the day.

One of Rob’s heroes is Jamie Oliver, so when Lonely Planet described Pallurinna place to eat in Husavik, as Iceland’s answer to Jamie, there was only one place we were heading for lunch before our boat trip.  In true Jamie tradition, our amazing street food inspired smoked lamb sandwich was ready in under fifteen minutes!

Whale watching with Gentle Giants was one of the best things we have ever done. We’re not sure if there is one amazingly trained hump back whale that is called on for tours, or if we were some of the luckiest whale watchers ever, probably the latter.

To make sure we didn’t miss any dolphins or whales, the highly informative and eagle eyed guide shouted out times from the clock directing us to each sighting, and there were lots. Rob isn’t easy to impress, but there was definite yelping and wowing as he ran from 11 o-clock to 2 o-clock and back again as the whales came so close to the boat we could almost touch them. If that wasn’t enough, this all happened on a beautifully sunny day with snow capped mountains reflecting in the crystal waters of the fjord.

The rest of the trip was just more of the same old stuff really...

Camping in idyllic surroundings with our Swiss miss, one of several things we have found here and would like to bring home, others include liquorice chocolate, deep fried onions and caviar in a tube (much nicer than it sounds). 
Some breathtaking waterfalls

Rob gets close to the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss
A few hypnotic rock formations
Dimmuborgir, Mývatn
Hljóðaklettar 'The echo rocks'
Hljóðaklettar 'The echo rocks'
Hot pools inside caves
Grjótágja, Mývatn
Hverfjall, Mývatn
More lava, this time steaming hot 40 years after the eruption
Krafla, Mývatn was like walking over a massive BBQ
And one or two gravel roads
They aren't all this good, Hafragilsfoss
Unfortunately, our camera battery ran out on arrival at the very pretty island of Hrísey, so we don´t have any photos of the houses that all look like they have been artistically designed for a photo shoot. And we didn't manage to capture the residents driving to the shop on their restored classic tractors or us camping on our own private campsite. We pitched our tent next to the sea and had extremely nice facilities at the swimming pool opposite. We had packed in a hurry to avoid missing the foot ferry to Hrísey and forgot to bring a lighter, luckily the kind people at Brekka gave us some matches, which ended up being quite expensive when we accidentally stayed to enjoy a wonderful Icelandic meal including the usual specialities of lamb, fish and of course ice cream. We couldn't resist an early morning hot tub enjoying the views over the ocean to the mountains before we left.

Our last photo on the way to Hrísey
Back at Fljótstunga, Rob is fast becoming an internet sensation. Not only has he made it onto trip advisor for his incredible lava cave tours, he is also feeling like a celebrity after being recognised by a family who visited the farm after reading our blog. And there was us thinking our 1000 page views were all by Louise´s mum! 

We thought it was about time we shared some photos of Viðgelmir, the cave we guide visitors around, so here they are...

Drip stalactites
Lava doing its best to impersonate chocolate
Spotlight on the interesting colours of the cave

Bless bless, xxx