Thanks for sticking around and reading about the rest of our trip around Iceland's Ring Road. If you missed the first half, check out Part One here. Scroll down to see where we left off - in the east.
One of the things you'll learn as you drive along the Ring Road is that there are way too many waterfalls to pullover. We made a list before going of the most popular ones and admired the rest from the car. At the end of the day, sometimes we just had to decide which was more important, another waterfall, or an extra glass of wine at night. We often opted for the wine.
Along the east coast, the same can be said for adorable coastal towns. We did, however, make a point of stopping into Djupivogur. Was it the need for a bathroom break, a snack, or to see the port? No one can say, but we did all three. The funniest part was trying out a "lover ball" at Langabud, a doughnut hole-like (or Timbit for those Canadians) pastry named after an old tale of a man who caught his wife in bed with her lover, he then severed the lover's balls, frying them in butter, and serving them to her. Nothing like a good story to make me want to try a new dessert.
Passing Iceland's largest forest, we arrived at our AirBnB outside of Egilsstadir. Our lovely hosts welcomed us to their farm with two guest cottages and a converted barn that housed two kitchens and washrooms. The cottages overlooked Lagarfljot lake, home to Lagarfljotsormurinn, Iceland's version of Loch Ness.
Once again, we were surprised and delighted by the ever-changing views. The trip towards Akureyri delivered land resembling what I imagine Mars looks like. From lush green fields it morphed to baron orange-hued soil and it was easy to see that the land had been scorched by volcanoes.
Approaching Myvatn, sulphur-sodden steam billowed from the ground. While most of Iceland's hot water comes from geothermal sources and smells faintly of sulphur, nothing prepares you for this smell. As Meag describes it, it smells of "volcano farts on fire," and she's not wrong.
Further down the road we stumbled upon a geothermal cave with stunning blue water. I can't express how different and beautiful this area is. It's unlike anything I've ever seen. The one thing to be wary of is the amount of small flies around these two spots. Be prepared to shoo them away.
Constantly in search of local food we found the Vogafjos Cowshed Cafe, where we ate traditional geyser bread and drank "volcano tea" picked from local plants. Their attached gift shop meant we could take some of it home for ourselves.
By now, you might be wondering why I haven't mentioned the Blue Lagoon or Myvatn Nature Baths yet, and that's because we didn't go. We purposefully chose our accommodation based on the opportunity to use their hot pots. Part of this was in hopes of having a more authentic experience, and looking back I'm not disappointed with our choice.
In the north, we stayed in Akureyri, Iceland's second largest city, which in most countries would be considered a town. Feeling fully carb-loaded we searched for some healthier alternatives and even treated ourselves to a nice dinner out at Strikid. After staying in a series of farm-stays or small towns, we wanted to test out the nightlife and found that there isn't much.
Compared to Canadian pubs, drinks in Iceland are quite expensive. We're talking $12 CAD for the cheapest pint. There are some Icelandic beers, which are definitely worth a try, but if you're a beer-lover, it's nothing special.
One of our most memorable days was spent half-hour north of Akureyri in Dalvik where we went whale watching. With a 98% success rate, we were worried that we were the 2% with an hour of boating down and no whale to be seen. And just like that our luck changed. Spotting a whale in the distance we soon found more.
Dot, a well-known whale among locals swam right up underneath our boat and hung out for a bit, splashing her fins against the water. After spending some time marvelling at the humpback's grandeur we moved on towards the shore to fish. Any fish caught on the boat were de-boned and BBQ'd once we were back on shore and Meag was lucky enough to catch one.
Our whale-watching package included a soak in The Beer Spa - Bjorbodin. This was an unreal experience. First, we sat outside in the hot tub overlooking the fjord and were then summoned by a spa attendant to our own personal beer bath. The warm beer felt wonderful on our skin and it didn't hurt that there was a tap of cold beer beside the tub for us to pour our own pints. After 25 glorious minutes, we were escorted to the nap lounge for another 25 minutes of rest. After all of the relaxing we were in dire need of some food, and their on-site pub was the perfect way to end the afternoon.
Our last length took us along the northwest. Not feeling as though we had enough time, we decided the Westfjords were better left for our next trip. We stayed in a little seaside cottage attached to a hostel. This is the only night that we weren't all that impressed with our accommodation. The cottage was nice and fit our needs but their hot pots were dirty and filled with flies and hair - yuck.
A last minute addition, we decided to do the entirety of Snaefellsnes Peninsula, where we visited Stykkisholmur. This picturesque town is somewhere we wish we had of stayed. It had charming little hotels and beautiful views of the ocean and would have been the perfect addition to our trip.
As a road trip with brief stops, the Peninsula didn't prove to be that different from the rest of the country. We saw a lot of similar landscapes throughout the rest of our travels. But, had we stayed the extra night in Stykkisholmur, we would have loved to have spent more time hiking and exploring.
After 9 days of roaming around Iceland with two of my closest friends, it was time to return to Reykjavik. We accidentally took the underwater tunnel, which was super cool, and ended up at our last AirBnB just behind the Hallgrimskirkja church. Having missed it on our initial visit we went to the top of the church to take in the our last sunset.
As I'm writing this, I still can't believe it's over. After months of planning and speaking consistently about our plans I feel like I've got a hole to fill - one that I'll probably fill with planning my next adventure.
There's nothing in the world like getting reacquainted with old friends in a tiny three-cylinder car surrounded by the most beautiful sights. Hopefully we don't leave it another ten years before our next girl's trip.