Iceland: East (The Dragon)

Day Six Continuation

Continuing on!

One of the most magical parts about driving around Iceland is the never ending waterfalls. This particular one on the drive to East Iceland was even more remarkable as it was sun-kissed by the Golden Hour and we had it all to ourselves.

One thing is certain about Iceland: you will never run out of wonderful sights to see.

*Prices mentioned are for both Kevin and I!

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Arriving in East Iceland

After a long drive through snowy mountains we arrived in East Iceland’s small town of Eskifjorður on our sixth night. We didn’t have very much planned for this part of our road-trip, which was perfect for us. This allowed us to jump out of our AirBNB after dinner at the local Thai restaurant, Bàg Chà, suddenly and say, “let’s go aurora hunting.” And boy, we did. We parked safely into a pull off area next to the mountains on a winding road and waited. Two nights in a row that I got to witness the stupendous northern nights with the love of my life. I can’t explain how perfect it all felt.

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Day Seven:

We woke up the next day with no set agenda besides two things: Vestrahorn and eventually making it down to Hofn. What we didn’t account for was the colorful arch that blessed us with its presence on our drive through the country side. I simply adore rainbows! I truly feel like I found a pot of gold in Iceland. Throughout the early afternoon we made frequent stops on our drive and enjoyed short walks on black sand beaches and along marshes with a never ending rainbow trailing behind.IMG_9334IMG_9338IMG_9339IMG_9344IMG_9348IMG_9402IMG_9434IMG_9419

Vestrahorn Mountains

On the Stokksnes peninsula there are some pretty remarkable mountains along a black sand beach and if you are there at the right time you will see a mirror image of the world around you. There’s also a statue of a protector (below), an old film set, and endless scenic views.

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The Viking Village Film Set

So, in all honesty, I thought this was a pretty random sight as the film that was supposed to be filmed here….was never completed. Overall, however, it was still a nice short walk and the view from the outside of the village provided an amazing scenery which we had all to ourselves. The area is one of the two only attractions in Iceland that you have to pay a ~$7 entrance fee for (the other being Kerio Crater).

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I recommend driving down the road and finding parking alongside the other vehicles or in the parking lot at the end of the road. We spent the golden hour enjoying the waves and intense wind on the rocks overlooking the ocean. It was such a beautiful, simple moment that really allowed us time to soak in serenity of the place.

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“Vestrahorn,

Where I’m home,

Vestrahorn,

Take me home.”

Kevin and I would sing this at the top of our lungs after visiting the mountains. Something about Vestrahorn really stuck with us for the remainder of the trip. It wasn’t just the remarkable scenery that felt as if it went on forever. I’m very glad we were there for Golden Hour as it made the place even more romantic. Towering mountains, an incredible black sand shoreline, and open fields of long grass? Can it get any better? Well, wait until you hear this.

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Maybe it had something to do with this serendipitous moment when we’re strolling along the black sand beach and witness horses galloping in the distance towards us. This, my friends, was one of my favorite moments of all 10 day in Iceland. One day, we’ll be back.

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So after Vestrahorn’sn unexpected excitement we needed two things: food and a place to crash for the evening! We found both these things in Hofn. Firstly, and this is the only place I recommend eating out of my entire time in Iceland, Kaffi Hornid Dining. Try the lobster pizza. Trust me. I’d go back just for that pizza.

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Then we decided to camp out not in an AirBNB but at the Hofn Camping and Cottages ($34.10). We went to the local swimming pool for an evening’s dip in their hot tubs and sauna and then used their shower facilities ($16.37). Then we just knocked out in the front seats of the car and woke up early. Nothing to it.

Day Eight

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Vestrahorn Again

We visited Vestrahorn one more time before leaving the area in the early morning to ensure we witnessed and captured the reflections and the “God-like” walking on water photo opportunities. I’m not saying that we refused to pay the entry fee again, but I didn’t exactly understand why we had to if we weren’t parking by the cafe…soooo, we may not have. Instead we just parked along the road with the other vehicles.

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If you’re in the market for souvenirs make sure you head to Handradinn in Hofn. We purchased beautiful mountain shaped candles ($30.4) home made by the sweetest lady that also hand knits all the Icelandic sweaters in her shop!

Breiðárlón Glacier Lagoon

I’m very glad we decided to make this glacier lagoon stop first. There were only a couple other cars there and we didn’t see anyone else on our walk down to the lagoon. There are warning signs posted at the entrance alerting everyone of a possible presence of quick sand. This certainly kept us on our toes. Kevin was confident (or dumb enough) to make his way down to the shore as he has a thing for skipping stones when we get to a body of water. Overall it was a breath of fresh air compared to our initial sight of the infamous Jökulsárlón and absolutely freezing as you can see from how bundled up I am! DSC00476DSC00480

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Jökulsárlón

The infamous glacial lagoon in Southeast Iceland. As soon as we parked in the very, very, very crowded parking lot I was definitely automatically weary. However, all we had to do was walk further away from the crowds and by the time we knew it we were in a much quieter and more isolated area. We also considered doing one of the excursions such as the kayak tour around the glaciers, but we were content just observing from a distance. Overall, yeah, I can see why it is so popular! But if you have more time I would recommend driving further along the country for some peace and solitude in addition to the enchanting views.

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By this point in our road trip we were pretty bummed out about it all ending! The more vehicles we saw the more saddened we got. We spent the majority of our trip seeing only one or two other vehicles on the road- if that- and all of a sudden we were realizing we were only getting closer to Reykjavik which meant closer to the end of an adventure!

On the evening of day eight we arrived in Vik and visited another black sand beach just in time for a lovely sunset. The common misconception is that there’s only one black sand beach in Iceland. But in fact, this is not so. Go ahead and visit some less famous ones and you’ll still see how incredible they all can be.

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We once again stayed the night in our car at the Vik Camping Grounds and all I have to say is thank goodness for wet wipes, dry shampoo, and the flannel pajamas my mom bought me! This time we emptied our trunk and laid down some clothes and jackets for padding. It did the job! We weren’t too worried about taking full on showers because we knew day nine would involve getting dirty again!

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But to figure out why you, dear friend, will have to wait until next time!

Reflections: I think it has taken me so long to write these blog posts about Iceland because it begins to feel so final. I know that the trip was months ago, but writing about it just feels so…final. I guess I’m worried that once it’s all typed out then I won’t be able to reminisce on it as much. Even writing about the days leading up to Reykjavik are difficult because I remember so vividly how we felt when we started seeing more and more cars full of other tourists. We wanted so badly just to turn back around and do it all again.

Well, I suppose that’s all meant for our next post because we’re nearing the end.

Until next time, friends!

-Mary

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