Iceland (Days 5/6 of 8): Lake Myvatn to Snæfellsnes Peninsula

This is part 5 in a series of posts recapping our trip to Iceland in October 2014.

Day 5: Lake Myvatn

We woke up the next morning in time for the morning milking (Vogafjos is first and foremost a working farm) – so we visited the cows and got to try some fresh milk!DSC03583 DSC03586

If supermarket milk tasted as good as this, I’d probably work harder at developing lactose tolerance. Breakfast at the Vogafjos Café was without a doubt the best breakfast of our trip – a huge spread of breads, spreads, smoked meats, fruits, granola, and drinkable skyr.Iceland (day 5+6) blog

Our activity for the day was a tour of the Lofthellir Ice Cave, offered exclusively by Saga Travel. It was a long and bumpy ride to the ice cave, but our guide Oli kept us entertained by telling us stories about the lava formations we saw along the drive. Before the days of TV and internet, Icelanders kept themselves entertained by imagining creatures and folk tales into the landscape around them.DSC03601 DSC03605

We arrived at the cave and pulled on our boots before entering into the darkness. I’ve done cave tours before, but the addition of the ice and several tight squeezes made this one extra interesting.DSC03648 DSC03630 DSC03634

My honest take is that I don’t know if I’d recommend this tour. I like caves and find stalactites/ stalagmites really fascinating, but this was a cave of icicles, which I see every winter. The one moment that I really enjoyed though came towards the end of the trip when we all turned off our lights and experienced total darkness – now that was something new!DSC03672

After the tour, we ate some hot dogs at the local gas station and went to tour a few sights around Lake Myvatn. There are at least a dozen sightseeing spots/ hikes around the lake, and given that we made it to only three of them, we could have stayed another day here!DSC03690

We first hiked up Hverfell, a big black bowl-shaped mountain, which felt as though it was made of black sand.DSC03691

Next was Skútustaðagígar, a region of pseudo-craters near the south edge of the lake. We were accompanied by a friendly stray dog during this hike, no doubt a local tour guide hoping for some scraps as tips :)DSC03696 DSC03702

Our final stop was Dimmuborgir (“Dark Castles”), a lava field that nearly everyone visits because this scene from Game of Thrones (season 3, so hopefully I’m not spoiling it for anyone) was filmed here. We didn’t make it all the way to that cave, but this was an incredibly scenic walk.DSC03714 DSC03718

We ate dinner at the Vogafjós Cowshed Café again and tried the char this time –just as good as the last night’s meal.DSC03724

Day 6: Drive to Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Friday’s drive really was the longest of the trip (6 hours), so after breakfast at Vogafjós Café once more, we bid Myvatn goodbye and started our drive. DSC03737We made just two quick stops during the trip; one to see Goðafoss (literally “waterfall of the gods”), yet another spectacular waterfall, and the second to see if we could find any seals in the town of Hvammstangi. No seals, but it was good to get out and stretch our legs.DSC03739 5_1 DSC03755

We also picked up our first and only hitchhikers of our trip, a couple from Seattle hiking and camping around Iceland for a month! They gave us some great tips on what to see on the peninsula before we dropped them off at a fork in the road and went our separate ways.

Our guesthouse for the night was actually hard to find from the map because it was located outside of town off the main road. After driving back and forth in town with no luck, I had the idea to plug in the GPS coordinates (instead of address) into the Garmin, and we found it right away (hence tip #2 on my list of tips for Iceland).DSC03765

After unpacking, we drove to a nearby town to find some dinner, making a quick stop to explore a volcanic dirt…ditch? With the red soil and rock, we felt like we could be on Mars.DSC03771 DSC03776

EVERYTHING in the town of Stykkishólmur was closed when we got there, save for the supermarket and the pizzeria next door. Our dinner decision made easy, we ordered pizzas, which were delicious and relatively cheap (~$10-15 for a personal pie).DSC03779 DSC03780

We went back to our room at Guesthouse Grund í Grundarfirdi – this time literally a room in a house – to find another couple preparing dinner in the kitchen.
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We chatted with Ben and Kate (from Australia!) for a bit and then excused ourselves to watch some TV in our room before going to bed. Around midnight, we heard a knock on the door and Ben apologized for waking us, but told us that the Northern Lights were happening outside!! Um, no need to apologize, you’re my hero. Seeing the Aurora Borealis has been on a bucket list since I was a kid, and I was struck speechless by the soft glowing lights blanketing the sky when we walked outside.5_3

This was my highlight of the trip, and while we didn’t go to Iceland to see the lights, I’m so glad we did.

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