Gravel and Mountains Aren’t Exactly a Fun Combination

Well, well, well, we meet again.

This morning we had a bit of a sleep-in (well, if you can say 9am is sleeping in… my mom would say so) and after a bit of breakfast we were back on the trail. The day started off with a bit of excitement – I scraped the rental car. Good one me. We were leaving the post office when all of a sudden we heard a crunch – turns out I was up against a half wall (that wasn’t super visible). Luckily its not too bad, but we shall see what they say when we return the car!

After fuelling up the car, we left Höfn and were soon back on the Ring Road. We made a few photo stops along the way – the scenery was absolutely incredible. We were driving along the coast with the mountains on the other side and there were some low hanging clouds. Unlike the past two days, there were no big attractions to see today so we set out sights on Egilsstadir – where we would be staying for the night. Today’s driving was a mix of sketchy and beautiful BUT, there were guardrails today! Which was nice, because falling down a cliff wouldn’t be fun. But somehow, the Icelanders are OK with falling into the ocean.

An Icelandic horse near the side of Rte. 1
Clouds shroud the tops of the mountains on our drive.
The coastline of East Iceland

After a tunnel and countless one way bridges we were soon in Djupivogur – which was the half way point of the days driving. I had read that it was a nice place to stop and that it was a quaint village to take pictures in and walk around for a bit. When we got there, I was a tad underwhelmed. It might have been that I was still bummed out from scraping the car or what, but it wasn’t as charming as the book had said. We still managed to see a few buildings that dated back from the 1700s (when the Germans established a trade route) which were interesting but that was about it!

The oldest building in Djúpivogur – a warehouse dating back to the 1700s.

In short order we found ourselves back on the Ring Road, enjoying the scenery when all of a sudden a large sign saying Malbaek Endir was in front of us – for those of us that don’t speak Icelandic this is the dreaded “Pavement Ends” sign. We had seen many cars covered in dirt pass us and were confused as to why they were that way – this is why. It wasn’t too bad to drive on, I just slowed down and kept my cool and we kept on trucking.

Now, here’s where the day began to get fun. As we rounded a curve we noticed that there were two ways to get to Egilsstadir and one way was a lot slower than the other. We had Google mapped it last night and decided for the sake of time (and gas) we would take the shorter way. Well, little did we know that this involved literally driving up a mountain. On a gravel road. Fun. So much fun.

Cricket, the car, looking super majestic before we headed up the side of Öxl.

The first few kilometres weren’t too bad but we knew the worst was yet to come. (Now for those of you that want to see what we were up against unfortunately it isn’t on Google Street view but trust me when I say it was a challenge – especially for a novice like me). After a science rest (read: pee) break we were back on the road, and decided to let a few speed daemons and jellybeans (our word for tiny cars) pass us. Our plan was to take our time and not push the car to its limits. For the most part, keeping the car in 2nd gear seemed to get us up the road no problem. But then, because Iceland is WONDERFUL to its drivers – we found some loose gravel – and decided to put it into Low. The rest of the drive, was a symphony of gear switching to get us to the top! We made it without difficulties – and I am a way better driver than I thought I was (although I must credit Daylan for keeping me calm and giving me tips on our way up).

Passing through snow drifts, past glacial rivers and beside farms we were in Egilsstadir in no time. We arrived so early that we decided to grab lunch at Subway (shhhh…) and got a few snacks from a Grocery store nearby. For some reason, even though Daylan and I have the EXACT same credit card hers has been acting up so I spotted her the money and we were back on the road again in no time.

Now, a little bit tired and not sure of what to do we tried to check into our hotel – but were told that it was too early and to come back around 4pm (it was 2 at the time). However, the lovely lady at the hotel told us to check our Seydisfjordur and we were so glad we did. This was another steep drive – luckily on pavement this time – over the snow capped peaks of a mountain. It was breathtaking, as was the town of Seydisfjordur. When we got in, we ate our subs by the sea and watched the little town bustle about.

The church of Seydisfjordur

The first thing we noticed on our walk around after lunch was a huge ferry, this one goes to Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands and is a car ferry so we noticed a few out of country plates! The town was incredibly picturesque and quiet – like a little seaside town in Newfoundland! After finishing our walk, Daylan grabbed some cash from an ATM and we were back on the road. We noticed a few places to take pictures on the drive in so we stopped on the way out and were awestruck at the view of Seydisfjordur from the top of the mountain!

Gufufoss – along the side of the road back to Egilssadir
Looking down at Seydisfjordur

After safely making it back to the hotel, we checked in and were shown to our room. This hotel was my little surprise for Daylan as we are staying in a little cottage (albeit with no wifi access) but it is quite charming and will be the perfect place to rest our heads tonight.

I’m thoroughly exhausted and its only 5pm. I had a wicked day driving but I wouldn’t take any part of it back (okay, well maybe scraping the car. Can’t wait to see the bill for that!)

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