Well, today was kind of one of those built in rest days – which is always a blessing in disguise. When looking through the guidebook the drive from Húsavik to Svínavatn didn’t seem to have too much to see along the way except for Akureyri (the second largest city in Iceland). So, with that in mind we decided to ask the staff at Tungulending to see what there was to do in town. I had read that Húsavik is the capital of whale watching in Iceland so we figured why not give that a try.
As we were leaving Tungulending a strange feeling washed over me. Never before had I been sad to leave a place, but here I was wishing to stay longer at this wonderful slice of heaven. (N.b. if you EVER go to Iceland you NEED to stay here. Period) We headed into town armed with a few 10% off whale watching coupons and a map. The morning’s drive started out a tad eventful as we had to climb the hill leading to the main road into town – luckily this was before it got too windy and we made it no problem.
Húsavik is a small town in Northern Iceland famed for its whale watching which means we had to try and get on a tour. Upon arrival at the harbour we found out that the companies weren’t sure if they were going to send out their next boats due to the wind. In fact, they weren’t even sure if the boats they had sent out would stay out there. We were told to check back closer to the departure time to see if we could go. So, we headed souvenir shopping (as all self-respecting tourists do)! Now, I was on a hunt (as I usually am) for a Lopapeysa, the “national sweater” of Iceland. They are made out of the wool from Icelandic sheep and are known around the world for being cozy and warm. Sounds like my kind of sweater.
I decided to try my hand at finding one at a local artisan shop in Húsavik because we had the time and it supported the local community – not only satisfying my shopping needs but also helping the community. Deal. I ended up finding a beautiful grey and white one and some wool socks for my mom – she loves comfy things so this was ideal for her. By this time we had only spent a half an hour of the hour and a half we were to wait for the boat so we walked back to the car and got some gas. While getting gas we noticed how truly windy it was and decided for our sakes that it would probably be best not to head out in a boat. Boy, were we right.
On the drive into Akureyri we noticed dirt being blown across the road by the wind and I was white-knuckling the steering wheel to keep us going down the road. The drive into Akureyri was a constant battle against the wind, but we made it about and hour later. After a little bit of fun trying to figure out where our first stop (the Local Botanical Gardens) were, we made it and set off to look at the gardens. Even though there was little in bloom, the location was amazing. It is nestled on the side of a hill overlooking the bay Akureyri is on facing the mountains. I quite liked downtown Akureyri, it was a charming mix of colofurl old and new buildings and next time I come I’ll make sure to spend more time there!
We were starting to get hungry and Daylan noticed a place she wanted to eat in the guidebook so we headed there. While we were parking the car we noticed that the wind was picking up and had to battle to keep the doors of the car from hitting the cars around us. Soon enough, we were at Serrano chowing down on some burritos and deciding what the afternoon would have in store. We were going to get some Ice Cream but walking back to the car we were literally almost blown over by the wind – and when combined with the lack of map for the Ice Cream place we nixed that plan and were back on the road.
We had a little bit of fun trying to leave town as there were no signs telling us where Hwy. 1 (the Ring Road) was. But, after a few U-turns we figured it out and were soon on our way to Svínavatn. As we started climbing into the mountains, the car was fighting against the wind and we took our sweet time. But we made it safe and sound. As we drove we noticed that the wind was about 13 m/s – and any more we would have to stop and take a break (as its not recommended to drive in Wind speeds over 15 m/s!). The car was a champ and the kilometres went flying by. I had to stop to pee – and the old addage of “never peeing into a windstorm” had never been more applicable.
Soon enough, we found the road we needed to take to the place we are staying tonight – Guesthouse Svínavatn. Now, normally I would be phased by the fact that it’s a gravel road but after the wind I had been fighting I was nonplussed by it. A few kilometres down the road we noticed a few sheep by the road and stopped to take a few pictures. About 20 minutes later we were at the Guesthouse and I was thoroughly exhausted from the driving of the day. Enjoying the peace and quiet of having no one else here I fell asleep!
Now, a little word about where we are staying tonight. 1) its literally in the middle of nowhere. In fact, we’re about 20km from Blonduos (the largest town) and decided to not go to dinner there as we don’t want to battle the elements. 2) Its beside a beautiful lake. I’d normally love to go out exploring but the clouds have been VERY ominous all day and I’d rather not risk it!
Takk fyrir for reading this and see you again tomorrow 🙂