The breakfast spread at our Icelandair hotel was WOW! They had so many options, and I can say firsthand that they were all good. Amazing skyr with rhubarb and apples, waffles topped with fresh marmalade, bread baskets along with hummus, cucumbers, peppers, cheese, olives, hard boiled eggs-this last part, bread, cheese, cucumber, and hard boiled eggs is a breakfast staple that we saw a lot in Iceland. Kind of weird, but I was into it. The only thing I didn’t try was the porridge, which I was pretty sad about. Oh and there were yummy filled croissants! So good.
Julian fell asleep promptly when we got on the road. We got so lucky with him on this trip. He slept way more than usual and we didn’t feel worried about him being in the car for a substantial part of every day. We were backtracking a little bit to Skaftafell Park, but had a few stops along the way. First up-Dverghamrar. In legends, these two large basalt formations are the home of dwarves a farm girl once heard singing as she passed by the rocks. They were probably formed when oozing lava hit the coast and cooled instantly. It was drizzling, and instead of taking away from our enjoyment, it just made it more magical. A little bit down the road was an enchanting tiny waterfall that sometimes runs upside down when the wind blows called Foss a Sidu. We had to search around a little to find the next stop on our list. The turf villages of Iceland are so mysterious and beautiful and this one, called Nupsstadur, was quite well hidden as well. We had to search around a little and slow down at every tiny sign along the road but eventually we spotted it and parked next to the private property sign. We jogged down the path to the little village consisting of a few farmhouses and a church. It’s like nothing I’ve never seen before and definitely made me feel like I was in a foreign place.
It had already been an eventful morning, but Skaftafell was our main stop. It’s a pretty good sized national park fun of glaciers and hiking trails. We took the most popular trail that leads to Svartifoss. I say popular, but we probably saw seven other people the whole time we were there. Iceland in general, but especially this part of Iceland, has this feeling of solitude and like you’re the first person to ever discover the amazing things you’re seeing. It’s hard to describe, but this feeling was one of my favorite things about our trip. The hike was pretty steep, but the path was well maintained and only about two miles. Svartifoss is a real beauty, totally unlike anything else with it’s basalt columns and it inspired the architect of Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik. We strongly considered trying to do a glacier walk but ultimately decided it was too expensive and risky with Julian. Someday…
As we drove away, it started raining pretty hard, making all the mossy lava fields along the road look extra green and spongy. We eventually just had to pull over on the side of the road to go play in the green stuff because it looked so springy and tempting. We made our first attempt to get to an otherworldly canyon, fjadrargljufur, and almost got our car completely stuck in an enormous pothole. Three times. Eventually we called it and drove on to our guesthouse in Vik.
Vik is the Icelandic town we had heard the most about during our preparation for the trip. The town itself is tiny, but what it’s surrounded by is completely incredible. Our guesthouse was actually right near one of these sights, a sea arch called Dyrholaey. It was still early afternoon when we arrived at our guesthouse, so we decided to drop some things off before going to see the sea arch and the beach. The buildings of the Grand Guesthouse Gardakot looked quite rough and weather-worn from the outside, probably because this is the rainiest part of the rainy island and near the beach. But when we got to the inside we never wanted to leave. It was so cozy and beautifully restored from the working farmhouse that it used to be, while still keeping some elements from its history. The first thing I noticed was the dining room set up with a big wooden farm table, candlesticks, hutch with a painting of the original farmer, cool clock, even the salt and pepper shakers were beautiful. They had a nice, well-equipped kitchen, big bed with crisp white down comforters, and a big bathroom which we used as a bedroom for Julian. It was really just lovely. Anyone who goes to Iceland needs to stay there for me, ok? And say hi to the chickens.
We drove up a small windy road from the house towards Dyrholaey. At the top, we could climb around and see the lighthouse and different rock formations all along the cliffs. It was really cool, so I wish we could’ve stayed longer, but we were getting pummeled by rain by this point. It was the first really bad weather we had had on our whole trip which is amazing. We were expecting to have a lot of rain and wind every day, and it definitely would have changed things. We went back to get dry and cozy and made some tortellini for dinner while chatting with the Swiss couple who had just started their trip.