Iceland in Words – Day 7
Day seven started as many of the others have: with a visit to one of Iceland’s amazing waterfalls. In this case, my destination was Goðafoss (or “waterfall of the gods”). At the turn of the 11th century when Iceland officially converted to Christianity, Þorkelsson Ljósvetningagoði was the Lawspeaker and after playing a role in the decision also became a Christian himself. Upon returning to his farm in north Iceland, Þorkelsson threw his idols of the Norse gods into the waterfall. Goðafoss itself is smaller than the other waterfalls I’d already seen on my trip, but it was no less beautiful. The snow I had experienced in the Mývatn area was gone, leaving a gorgeous sunny day for me to view the falls. It was interesting to come home and see photos of the waterfall covered in snow even though they were taken only two days earlier by one of the people I met at the Mývatn Nature Baths.
From here I journeyed to Akureyri, the “Capital of North Iceland” which with a population around 18,000 is the largest town outside of the Greater Reykjavik Area. In hindsight, I probably could’ve made a larger effort to see what Akureyri had to offer. I did make sure to stop by Akureyrarkirkja, a Lutheran church that like Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik, is quite unique in its architecture.
With time to spare and only a couple stops planned for the rest of the day, I chose to take the scenic route around Tröllaskagi, the “Peninsula of Trolls” located between Akureyri and Hoffstaðir. This was a slightly terrifying drive as the wind increased to speeds that I had not encountered on my trip and at times felt like a battle not to be blown off the cliff. Several long tunnels through the mountains provided needed relief from the howling wind outside. The region I was driving through towards of the day end was called Skagafjörður, where horses actually outnumber people though by what ratio I am not sure.
Upon completing the drive around the peninsula, I made my last two stops of the day. The first being Glaumbær, a group of turf roofed farm buildings. There’s a museum there commemorating the lives of the husband and wife who are thought to have given birth to the first Europeon child in North America.
Last but not least was Viðimýri Church, a turf roofed very colourful church built in the 1830’s. There isn’t too much else to it other than its unique appearance, but I thought that was enough to make it a stop on my trek.
For the second time in the trip I had trouble locating my guesthouse, this time due to my GPS not recognizing the destination I had input into it. After knocking on the door of another private residence, I found I was just down the road from where I wanted to be.
Upon reaching Hofsstaðir, I quickly realized that it would be the most interesting hotel I’d stay at on my trip. As I was pulling in, a man was pulling out looking to do maintenance on the property. I found out later that this was Toti; rancher, innkeeper, waiter, chef, and dishwasher of the guesthouse; a great host all around. Who knows what other titles he holds from day to day. With nowhere else around to eat, it was clear that the other guests and I would be eating at the ranch. It was here that I met two nice and funny couples from Massachusetts, complete with the accent. The third couple staying with us that night was from Minnesota and provided some entertainment for the evening. She was absolutely hammered, and he reminded me of John Lithgow’s character in Third Rock from the Sun.
Highlight of the Day: On a slow day such as this I’m inclined to choose Goðafoss, especially considering the beautiful sunny day I was lucky enough to see it on. However, the Hoffstaðir guesthouse was so fun and enjoyable that it definitely gave the waterfall a run for its money. In the end, they provided great bookends for what was otherwise mostly a travel day.
Dinner: I once again feasted on lamb, this time cooked by Tóti himself. It was delicious as always, especially when washed down with a local beer.