Akureyri - Godafoss - Myvatn - Dettifoss - Egilsstadir
I woke up a little groggy but not that worse for wear, considering the previous night’s drinks. Jodie on the other hand…
Well, she’s not a morning person to begin with, so throw in a hangover and you can imagine her excitement. We had to set out early if we were going to visit the nature baths, hike and make it to our Airbnb near Egilsstadir.
On the way out of town, we stopped at the Icelandic equivalent of Walmart or Target, Hagkaup. It doesn’t compare to the pure audacity of an American Walmart, but we thought we could find a cooler there.
We could not.
Our first (planned) stop was Myvatn, a large glacial lake with nearby natural hot springs. On the way, we stumbled across a small (relatively speaking) waterfall, Godafoss. It was teeming with fellow tourists, and we considered skipping it.
It wasn’t even on our list to begin with, but we pulled over at the last minute. I’m glad we did. The water was a shade of blue I’ve never seen before. It was relentless. It just kept pouring over the edge, and I was in awe.
Nature wasn’t entirely inspiring, though. The wind was relentless. You might even call it oppressive. It pushed parka-clad tourists around like they weighed nothing—even the Americans. This would be our introduction to this constant face-numbing force in the North.
After the appropriate amount of time being awed by nature (like 20 minutes?), Myvatn called us.
The glacial lake is surrounded by unbelievable alien-like landscapes. According to WOW’s Magazine, [name of restaurant redacted] is theoretically a great place to have a meal in God’s country—or rather, Thor’s country.
The magazine was half right. The scenery was unmatched. The meal, however, was easily matched by a middle school cafeteria. I tried ordering two different sandwiches only to be informed that they didn’t have the necessary ingredients. I settled for 10 percent off my order and free bacon on a sandwich I didn’t really want.
Now, I don’t know how you screw up a sandwich. It’s one of the simplest things to make in the world. Two slices of bread and some stuff in the middle. But this place managed to do it. I’ve never payed money for a worse sandwich, and I’ve eaten at Arby’s. Oh, did I mention it was probably around $20 American?
This, unfortunately, signaled things to come.
Next, we headed to the Myvatn Nature Baths. These are a little more out of the way and less cliche than the Blue Lagoon, but still touristy. When we arrived, I opened the door of our little Suzuki Jimny, only to have the wind immediately try to rip it off the hinges. Apparently, that wasn’t enough either. As I fumbled with door, it also tried to steal my scarf, forcing me to frantically run it down in the parking lot like a maniac.
The staff inside informed us that the wind had been cooling the water for nearly two days. The woman we spoke to said she wouldn’t get in the water in those conditions. Curious, we headed outside to the deck above the water. Let me tell you, no one looked like they were relaxed—you know, the whole point of a spa.
After our investigation, we decided to forgo the baths, knowing we wouldn’t truly enjoy the experience and would only be doing it to say we did.
Before Dettifoss, we stopped briefly at a sulfur spring that I still can’t un-smell. It was like the concentrated essence of bacon burned to high hell in a cast iron and a dozen eggs that turned. I realize that’s a graphic, and probably an unnecessary description, but if I had to deal with it, so do you.
We continued on to our next destination, only to realize after it was too late that Google Maps is lazy and often confused. I put in our destination, Dettifoss, and trusted Google to deliver us. Naturally, it violated that blind trust and took us the worse way out of two possible paths. Google had our Matchbox car hurtling down an unpaved road riddled with potholes. The “road” threatened to dismantle the Jimny piece by piece.
What normally would have been a 20-minute drive took us nearly an hour. Jodie had no choice but to white-knuckle it as the car shook us like a cheap washing machine. She was angry, and I quote, “stress sweating.” But she got us there.
The rough road was worth it, though. Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe, and you can hear every bit of that power as soon as you step foot in the canyon. To be honest, the equally powerful wind whipping water everywhere made it difficult to get a decent photo or even look at it too long.
While others milled about, getting dangerously close to the edge of the cliff, we decided to take the trail to Selfoss—Dettifoss’ little sister. In the beginning, the hike was a little difficult, requiring climbing and some precarious footing. Eventually, it eased up and leveled out. Although some thick mud did christen our new hiking boots.
Selfoss is less powerful than Dettifoss—yet more striking. I don’t know how many ways and how many times I can say that the landscapes in Iceland are otherworldly. But they are. I wasn’t just on a trail or near waterfall. Rather, it appeared that I was in a Peter Jackson movie—one costumed with Patagonia jackets instead of cloaks.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t linger too long. We wanted to leave with other people in case the wind blew our Matchbox car off the road—or some other accident befitting our luck. Somehow, the ride back seemed better, although I suspect it’s because we knew what we were in for.
Thoroughly exhausted, we headed to our Airbnb outside of Egilsstadir. It was perfect. A small private cabin on a horse ranch overlooking a river. We made pasta, wrote and rested. It was a peaceful ending to a hectic day; it was what we needed.