We got a good start the morning after we slept in our cabin in the middle of nowhere. We all slept so hard. We drove along the coast heading North towards our next destination- Seydisfjordur. We were making good time, so we took route 95 North to Egilsstadir. It was definitely a different terrain- very rugged, dirt roads, and jagged cliffs. By the time we arrived in the town of Egilsstadir, we needed coffee and breakfast. Nielson Restaurant was the perfect spot. It was in an old house built in 1944 by a danish man. We all enjoyed Icelandic waffles (thinner, but so tasty) with fresh fruit and creme. We also stopped at Bonus- a grocery store similar to Aldi or Trader Joes. We stocked up on great snacks for our hike and to have on the road. The black licorice and chocolate combo candy bar is delicious. We also discovered balsamic vinegar potato chips, which are highly addictive.

We decided to hike to the Hengifoss waterfall because it was still early, and our final destination of the day was only an hour away. Hengifoss is the third highest waterfall in Iceland. It is striking because of it’s red clay and black basalt patterns of the cliff face. It was a three hour round trip hike with beautiful views of Lake Lagarfljot on the way down. We didn’t go all of the way to the falls in order to go behind them, but it was still worth it.

After our hike, it was time to make our way to Seydisfjordur- the town I was anxiously awaiting to see. The road there, 93 East, is the road that Walty Mitty skateboarded on in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” We had a lot of fog in the mountains, so the views weren’t great, but once we arrived to the town, we came down from the mountains, and it was clear. The town of Seydisfjordur is quaint, colorful, friendly, and filled with local artists who take pride in their town’s booming art scene. Less than 700 people live here. If you visit only one town in the Eastfjords, this should be it. The town is made up of colorful wooden houses and surrounded by snowcapped mountains and cascading waterfalls. It is as friendly as it is beautiful.

In the center of town, a rainbow path leads directly to the colorful church. Our guesthouse/inn was located right on this little path. Maggie, the innkeeper, met us at the front door and welcomed us to the Vid Lonid Guesthouse. We looked right down over the little rainbow road and the shops and restaurants. Dinner was at Kaffi Lara right across the our Inn. We enjoyed some really good burgers on homemade sourdough rolls.

About an hour and a half Northeast of Seydisfjordur is a tiny place called Borgarfjordur Estri. The tiny village has only about 100 inhabitants. While apparently the area is a hiker’s paradise, we discovered that is is also famous for the puffins that reside there on a cliff from June until mid to end of August. Since sunset wasn’t until 10:15 pm, we left our Inn at around 7:30 and drove through fog and windy gravel roads, but eventually made it to the cliffs at around 9:15 pm. It was absolutely worth it to see the puffins. We were so close to them, and they are fascinating to watch. Basically, we were the only people there, and it was the highlight of the trip for Olivia. We also saw a cute little red-painted turf house in the village there. Lindarbakki is a privately owned turf house and one of only a handful of turf houses in Iceland which is still inhabited. It is one bedroom and only 30 square meters. The lady who lives there only lives there in the summertime. They call her Stella, and she has been in the house every summer since 1979. She maintains the house with the help of the local people. One part of maintenance is to mow the roof!

We made our way in the dark back to our Inn by about 10:45 pm. Worth every bit of the time we spent on this adventure!! While the middle and youngest stayed back at the Inn, we took the oldest across the street to hang with the locals for a little bit. He was having such great conversation with some local Icelandic guys and some fishermen from Faroe Islands that we left him and went back. I felt completely at ease doing this in Iceland, the safest country in the world! They told Patrick that they couldn’t even comprehend the violence that happens in the United States. The same day we arrived in this idyllic town, we had also just heard about the two mass shootings within 24 hours back home. My heart hurt after hearing this news. YES- we can do better in America. Here’s something to ponder…

While the two countries are very different in size, with Iceland being sparsely populated compared to the United States, I still think we can learn something.

The fact is that Iceland is actually a gun loving nation, but the gun laws are strict. The annual murder rate in Iceland is 1.8. There have been years without a single homicide. The police do not even carry guns. They don’t need to. And… they also have a high rate of mental illness. Just something to think about. It’s impossible not to think about it sitting at the foot of the mountains surrounded by fresh air, nature, and colorful buildings completely enveloped in peace. We can do better!!

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