Life on Mars...
Life on Mars...!
Setting off from Akureyri was a little sad for all of our party. With a few days of rest and much needed party, we had really connected with this city, and had a great time there with the locals and the rest of the travelling community. As we jumped back onto our bikes and set of once again, back onto route 1 the view of the city made for a fantastic picturesque back drop. It really was a great little town. However.... the Icelandic weather was back upto it's old tricks. The blue skies were out in force but so was the bloody wind. We tackled the first few hills with no effort at all and travelled pretty quickly about 6-7 miles out of town. This is when the fun started. We were straight into task 1 of the Icelandic fun house! A huge mountain pass..... with a ridiculously loose gravel road. No chance we were getting up this hill without pushing... and a mighty effort it would have to be as well. Beating the flies from our eyes and the sun from our faces we finally made top after about an hour of pushing and diving out of the way of huge lorries. God be on our side at this point.... because the ride back down the hill was amazing, and the road was back to the usual smooth surface. Awesome!
Our daily target for the day was to make it to 'Goðafoss' (Waterfalls of the Gods). The falls are only about 50km from Akureyri and would make for a good cycle to ease the legs and bottom back into the saddle. After stopping for lunch, an hour or so after we left the city we soon pushed on and made some great ground. Tour buses were heading towards us in great numbers and heading back to Akureyri. this was a good sign, we didn't want to experience the waterfall with 200 other photo crazy tourists. Sure enough on arrival at Goðafoss we shared the falls with only one other couple. We had the falls pretty much all to ourselves. Ace! They were fantastic from every angle. we skipped over little streams towards the edge, to get some better snaps and just sat around for a little while just soaking in the surroundings!
The story behind Goðafoss (Waterfalls of the Gods) is a really nice little story. Around the year 999-1000 the leader of the Alþingi, Þorgeir, chose to convert Iceland into a Christian state. After making his decision he threw his statues of the Norse Gods into the waterfalls. There is an illustration of this event on one of the stain glass windows, in the church in Akureyri.
We woke up early in the morning on the campsite next-door to the falls. The beauty had been taken away already by crowds of bus tourists packing the area like puffins on a rock. One bus load of people would turn up for 10mins and then leave and then another would arrive. As I sat there watching the early morning surge, I felt slightly privileged and lucky to have experienced the magic of the falls with only my friends, and the spirit of the falls. A smile came over me, it was a great feeling.
The weather was once again sunny sunny sunny. Hot summer, hot, hot summer! The cycle began in classic fashion with a great up hill assault and an amazing rewarding view back over the Goðafoss, and surrounding mountain ranges. We cycled along the top of the pass, heading into a slight head wind, but nothing too brutal until these nesting birds decided to swoop down at us every 20meters. They would squawk, talk and try to kamikaze us every so often. They really were nasty little bastards! haha. A hill soon came up... heading in the right direction... down! We picked up some great speed and managed to get away from the birds. The views and feeling of the area around the town of Laugar was really nice and peaceful. Cycling was easy and relaxing.
After about 2 hours of cycling we reached the Mývatn national park area. As we topped a hill the amazing lake came into our view. It looked so blue. We couldn't wait to get down there and cycle around it to our next destination Reykjahlið. Mývatn translates to Midge lake, and is supposed to be over run with little black midge flies. All the travel books and blogs suggest that you should buy a bee keeping mask to keep them off of your face, but states also they won't bite you. It was really funny to see all of the tourists with these fantastically dorky head dresses on! It made for great comedy, as there wasn't that many flies around at all. As we made it towards the far side of the lake, the lava fields real beauty came into play. Unfamiliar territory ran for miles on one side and views back over the lake were just jaw dropping. It's hard to describe anywhere else like it... that I have been before. I would say it is a total must.
On arrival in Reykjahlið we signed into the slightly expensive campsite and decided to chill out in the sun for the afternoon. It was rare for it to be sooo nice. The following day brought adventures to natural thermal caves. Two of the caves having water around 40-50 degrees! We later found another much cooler cave, but with a challenge to both get into and get out of. I would highly recommend trying to find these caves and relaxing if possible in the hot hot water!
With the past few days bad weather we decided to try and hitch to Egilsstaðir. With no luck on our side we decided to take the SBA northbound bus for around 4000ISK per person and 2000ISK extra to take our bikes. The bus was actually a really nice way to travel in this country. it gave us a rest and also allowed to take in the beauty of our surroundings while not huffing and puffing uncontrollably up a hill. It was comfortable and not not overly expensive.
The Marshian like countryside of the Mývatn national park is well worth a visit. There something here for everyone. From climbing mountains to inner craters, to relaxing in natural caves or european spa's!
Icelandic lesson Months of the year....
January = Janúar
February = Febúar
March = Mars
April = April
May = Mai
June = Júni
July = Júli
August = Ágúst
September = September
October = Október
November = Nóvember
December = Desember