Saturday, 26 April 2014

Iceland 7: Akureyri to Myvatn

A lazy start to the morning, not waking up until 7:45.  Most impressively, there was a big, hot bright thing in the sky - something we hadn't seen for quite a while. Amazingly the sun was shining!  After checking out we headed across the fjord and stopped at a viewpoint to look back on the very beautiful town of Akureyri.  Unfortunately the viewpoint area was packed with coaches full of Germans, along with several other cars.  I took a deep breath, and then pushed to the front to take some pictures.  Coaches - presumably as a result of the cruise ships in the harbour - and, more specifically, coaches full of Germans, were going to be par for the course during the day.

This is the view we were all looking at: Akureyri in all its splendour.  This particular panorama really does look quite silly in blog format, so a video is the only real way of taking in the scene.

Next stop was Laufas, a museum set in an old rectory and farm associated with a church on the shore of the fjord.  It turned out to be "free museum" day, so we didn't need to pay to get in.  There was no objection to me using a tripod either.  The houses are set into a hillside and - apart from the front - the walls are made of turf.  Wood was (and still is) in short supply in Iceland, given the lack of trees; in fact, according to the custodian, most of the wood used inside the buildings came from shipwrecks.

The church turned out to be worth a visit too.

As did the cafe, where we stopped for "a little something".

We then took a gravel road on the grounds that the coaches wouldn't.

Later we stopped at Godafoss to look at the impressive waterfall, and found that - unsurprisingly - it was full of coaches.  Areas around the waterfall were roped off, presumably for safety reasons, but it was noticeable that certain nationalities (in this case, Italian and German) completely ignored them.  Not easy to take pictures here, as there were too many people and the light was too bright (yes, the sun was still shining).

We stopped at a convenience store, not far from Myvatn, to stock up on biscuits etc.  On second attempt I managed to find some Mjolk which was milk rather than yogurt: Muu (yellow), for future reference.   As we headed into the hills towards Myvatn, however, the clouds came over.  We stopped at a lava field, just before the lake, and went for a walk towards a volcanic cone.  Lots of birds to see there, including Black-tailed Godwit, Golden Plover and (my favourite) the Whimbrel.  I also saw some small wasps which were actively building a paper nest just below a piece of lava.

It was getting cold and very windy, so we headed into Reykjahlid and checked into the hotel.  After dinner we headed off to a nearby geo-thermal area, but you'll have to wait until the next installment for that.