We woke up on Day 5 and realized it was Commerce Monday- a holiday in Iceland. Many of the restaurants and stores were not open. We wandered down the street from our Inn after checking out and made our way to the little bar where we had been with Patrick the night before. The sign outside said Kaffi (coffee) and Crepes, and it was open. The man behind the bar was super friendly, and the place has such a cool vibe. He said due to the holiday, he wasn’t going to open, but changed his mind. Lucky for us! We asked him if he was serving breakfast, and he told us he didn’t have any fresh crepe batter, but if we waited 20 minutes, he would whip some up for us. Of course, we waited. While waiting, he brought us some fresh baked beignets to have with our coffee and hot cocoas. We found out he was a Frenchman from Paris who had lived in Iceland for over 40 years, and he was the co- owner of this bar/restaurant. At night, it turns into a bar, and it is run by his co-owner. He was super friendly and an amazing cook! Our crepes were delicious with all fresh ingredients.
We ended up staying at the cafe for quite a while talking with him about his life and experiences. So we got a much later start than anticipated. Our final destination of the day would be Akureyri in Northern Iceland. It was about a 4 hour trip with no stops. The plan was to leave Seydisfjordur and drive the Myvatn area and spend about 3 hours there.
Sometimes we just don’t stick to our plans, and this time, I’m glad we didn’t. I had seen some pictures of Studlagil Canyon, and we all agreed we wanted to try to find it and hike there. We had a very difficult time finding the parking to the canyon. We had to stop along the side of the road at a small cafe (in the middle of nowhere) and a nice man at the desk drew us a map. Have I mentioned how friendly and helpful they are here? We went south of rt 923 off of Ring Road, and we eventually found the farm where we needed to park to begin our trek to the canyon. The hike is about a 4 km hike that leads to an incredible basalt canyon. About 2 km in to the hike, there is a waterfall called Studlafoss Basalt Column waterfall. We continued on the path, through private farmland, and came across a few other making the trek.
The canyon is stunning. I really can’t describe it. I understand why it is one of the most hidden gems of Iceland- it’s breathtaking, but not easy to reach. The pictures of the kids show how very small we are standing against the basalt columns. For a long time, the river, Jökulsárlón a Bru was so treacherous to cross that it divided the surrounding areas and cut off communication between them for centuries. At some point, a hydroelectric plant was built and the water flow in the river was greatly reduced. It affected the sources of this previously very powerful river, and it turned into the clear and turquoise spring fed river that it is today. When the water level was reduced, It eventually revealed the beautiful basalt columns. We easily spent about 2 hours there, climbing the rocks down to the river and admiring the columns and the color of the water.
Once we made it back to the car, it was late afternoon. We were hungry and tired, but we still had about 2 hours to go until there were places to stop to eat. We had some snacks and eventually all of the kids sacked out. Vogafjos farm and guesthouse is located in the Myvatn area and is a farm that has been owned by the same family for over 120 years, passed down from one generation to another. It is a highly rated farm to table restaurant, and it is located right off of Ring Road. We stopped, and although we didn’t have a reservation, we were able to wait for a table. It was delicious. Everything was so fresh and beautifully prepared.
We completely ran out of time to do anything in the Myvatn area besides eating dinner. Lake Myvatn is surrounded by an area of lava fields, geothermal activity, craters, and basalt pillars. It reminded us so much of Yellowstone. While we would have loved to have spent time there, we simply could not do it all. The unexpected journey to Studlagil canyon was so worth it though.
It was getting late, but we still managed to get to our final sightseeing destination before dark- Godafoss Waterfall. It’s a pretty impressive waterfall to see. While we had hoped to see it at sunset, it was a cloudy day, and there was absolutely no sun. The water of the river falls from a height of 12 meters over a width of 30 meters. We were so late that we were the only people there, so we had the whole place to ourselves.
An hour an a half later- about 10:45 pm, we arrived in Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest city next to Reykjavik. It was sparkling with lights as we exited the tunnel that took us right into the city. More tomorrow….