Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Iceland road trip - day 7

Tuesday 20 September 2016

When I woke up the next morning, I was still high from the aurora spectacle. We met a couple staying at the same place, who told us that it took them three trips to Iceland to see the lights! "You guys got really, really lucky!" They said. True that.

We had an amazing breakfast buffet that morning. There were so many things that Xena could eat! I was overjoyed. 

Viv had some office work to wrap up that morning, so I took Xena to see the horses that belonged to the guesthouse and lived in a barn nearby.

She was so excited at the thought of seeing the horses, she didn't even wait to finish the rest of her breakfast. She decided to eat the last bit on the way. 

There they were — the gorgeous, shiny horses!

We saw horses of many colours, but the black one stood out magnificently. 

It was sunny and slightly breezy — lovely weather to be out and about, observing horses.

My little pony also decided to do some galloping in the fields. 

Cute little cart with flowerpots inside

There was even a giant milk can that housed a flowerpot. 

Soon, Viv was done with his work and we set off. We were supposed to take a detour to see the Aldeyjarfoss waterfall, but the Goðafoss waterfall was on the way and the weather was good that I asked Viv if we should see it first in case it rained later. With Iceland's unpredictable weather, I wanted to make sure we saw whatever we could while the weather was good. "One in the hand is worth two in the bush," he chuckled in agreement and turned in towards Goðafoss.

One of the larger waterfalls in Iceland, the semicircular Goðafoss has a height of 12 metres and a width of 30 metres. 

Xena had seen a lot of waterfalls by now and had had a chance to mull over them quite a bit. She had many many questions — "Where does all the water come from? How come all the water at the top of the waterfall is not getting over? It's just falling and falling and falling!" 

The Goðafoss is a part of the Skjálfandafljót river. 

There weren't too many tourists so we could really take in the unobstructed views. 

Soon, we were back in the car, heading towards the Aldeyjarfoss waterfall. We took the 842 gravel road (you can't drive on it without a 4WD) to Aldejarfoss based on Tripadvisor reviews as opposed to the 844 that the GPS recommended. A 30-minute drive on a gravel road and then another 10 minutes on an F-road isn't the most enjoyable drive, so we were really hoping that it would be worth it.

We got out of the car and started walking, not really knowing what to expect. Except the three of us, there was not a soul in sight. 

It was a long walk over rocky terrain. Xena did it very enthusiastically though. 

Of course, we had to be very careful because of these sudden gaps in the ground that appeared every now and then. 

And then we got it — the first peek of the Aldeyjarfoss! We heard it before we saw it, of course. 

It was STUNNING, to say the least. The foss of all fosses, I called it. The river Skjálfandafljót drops from a height of 20 metres to create the waterfall. 

The falls themselves were gorgeous...

...plus, the basalt columns made them even more magical. 

I couldn't get enough of them. I sat there for about 10 minutes, not saying a word. 

I took this video to show how powerful the falls were, and how deserted the place was. 

It baffled me that there was no one at such a beautiful place, but then I figured that it was because it was so hard to get to. Thanks to Tripadvisor, I'd added it to our itinerary quite firmly. Almost everyone who'd been there had said that it was hard to get to, but hard to forget once you saw it. 

We walked around following the course of the Skjálfandafljót river after the fall.  

Can you see its winding path?

As you can see, the walk could get a little dangerous, so we firmly held on to Xena. 

We were rewarded with some really gorgeous views. I didn't want to leave, but well, we had to. 

On the way back, we passed a narrow F-road through which only one vehicle could pass at a time. I asked Viv how the drivers decide who would stop and who would pass first.

"There is no hard and fast rule, but usually the smaller guy stops."

"You mean the smaller car, right?"

We had a good laugh over it. It's so nice to laugh together and it happens a lot more when we are on holiday. It's like a bonus on top of the 24-7 together time all of us have as a family.

On the way back, Viv suggested that we stop by the Goðafoss again to see it from the other side.

It was a beautiful walk from our car to the waterfall and back, with many tourists on the way to wave and say hello to.

Check out the many different types of plants growing on the rocks in the area. 

I trailed behind the two of them, taking many such 'father-daughter' pictures. 

Can you spot Viv and Xena on the far left?

I'm so glad we came back to see it again because the views were actually better from this side. We could literally see the full semicircular formation of the waterfall. 

Goðafoss is also known as the 'waterfall of the gods' and there is an interesting story behind it. In the year 1000, the time of the conversion to Christianity from heathendom or “the old custom”. Þorgeir Þorkelsson, chieftain from nearby Ljósavatn and lawspeaker in Iceland, was faced with the task of settling the growing disputes between Christians and those who worshipped the old Nordic gods. Despite being a heathen priest himself, he decided that all of Iceland should be Christian. Legend has it that he threw his heathen gods into the falls in a symbolic act of conversion. And that's how Goðafoss got its name.
We took a few photos with the falls. 

Xena is pretending to be a bunny here. 

Soon, we were back on our way as we had a long drive ahead of us. 

We were headed towards the urban town of Akureyri. 

It seemed very urban, in fact — they had shops selling clothes, which we had not seen in a long, long time! It seemed like a big contrast against the sights we had seen over the last week.

We were hungry, so headed for lunch at the Kaffi Illmur. We had the soup and bread buffet there.  There were two types of soup, and thankfully both were vegetarian — tomato and broccoli. Viv also ordered a tiny bottle of their white wine. Xena had pasta and father and daughter played their Volly game again. 

I was not looking forward to any urban touch to the holiday, so the sight of the buildings were putting me off, to be honest.

Luckily, it was a very cute town, with lots of pretty flowerpots everywhere. 

Xena was quite fascinated with the giant flowerpots on the sidewalks. 

There was also some quirky 'street art'.

We had booked the Hafnarstraeti Apartment, which was walking distance from the lunch place. When we checked into our apartment, I was very impressed. There was no front desk, no personnel, it was fully automated. Just turn up, enter a password and get your room key.

The room itself was very nice, and the kitchen was well-stocked. The bathroom even had a hair straightener! After Xena's nap, we decided to walk to the botanical gardens.

We passed the Akureyri church on the way (the bells kept freaking Xena out all evening). 

Akureyri is surrounded by mountains. We saw beautiful snow-covered peaks along the way.

Hmmm... I'm not quite sure what she is up to. 

Beautiful fall colours

On the way, Xena picked up the same kind of leaves in three different colours — red, yellow and green. She was so thrilled she kept them in my pocket. 

The botanical gardens was very beautiful, and we spent some time exploring all the little paths it had. 

Xena wanted to jump into the fountain but I reminded her that I was not carrying a change of clothes for her. 

Bright red berries on a tree

A bench made of half a tree trunk and branches

This place looked like a perfect setting for a wedding!

There was a photo of how the place looked in winter. Wow!

Beautiful flowers everywhere!

My dad, who's an avid gardener, would love this place!

There were photos of how spectacular the Northern Lights can get!


These curious-looking plants had me hooked. 

Dark clouds were starting to gather and all our rain equipment was in the car, so we decided to head back. 

Daddy and daughter enjoying their walk

At one point, Viv saw a slight green streak in the sky. He asked me to verify and sure enough, the Lights were back, but very very faint. I'm not if you can spot it in this photo. Click to enlarge and focus on the left of the traffic light in the centre. 

We passed a small pond on the way back, housing gazillions of ducks of different kinds. 

There were literally hundreds of them!

Xena was thrilled because their quacks sounded like 'haaa haaa' and she kept asking if they were telling each other 'knock knock' jokes. 

We were wondering what to have for dinner. Honestly, I didn't want to have any more soup or bread or sandwiches, and was craving something spicy. To our luck, we found an Indian restaurant!

It was a tiny hut, meant for takeaway orders only. 

It felt a bit funny that an Icelandic guy was taking our Indian food order, but then the cook stepped out and he was a true blue Tamilian! With one big difference. He was fluent in Icelandic! 

As we waited for our food, Viv decided to get some snacks, drinks and dessert from the nearest grocery store, which turned out to be 1 km away! And it was drizzling, just as the forecast had said it would. You really had to hand it to their weather forecasts. Viv borrowed my woollen hat and went in search of that supermarket, while Xena and I waited at the Curry Hut. I was quite surprised to see how crowded it quickly got. Almost all the patrons there were Icelandic, and I wondered how they'd take to spicy dishes like vindaloo.

I gave simple math puzzles to Xena to solve as we waited. After what seemed like a really long time, Viv returned. He had got ginger beer among other things, which thrilled me to no end. I pointed out to Xena how how much her daddy cared about things I liked.

We went home and had our dinner with the ginger beer and some chocolate mousse he'd got. The food was really good and the chicken vindaloo was so spicy that I was supremely thankful for the ginger beer. He'd also got some regular beer for himself and some Skyr (Icelandic yogurt). I'm not a fan of Skyr so he had it as we watched Narcos season 2 next to a sleeping Xena. We used earphones, of course. The number of bullets that are fired in that series... whew. Definitely not suitable for watching next to a sleeping child. 

Click here for Iceland road trip - day 8. 



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