Iceland Part Three
Day 5 - Akureyri, Hvitserkur, Búðardalur Campsite
Day 6 - Blómasetrið, Early return to Reykjavik
I cannot say enough about our time spent in Akureyri. Situated along the northern coast of Iceland, it is less frequently visited by tourists than the southern half, but what a mistake in my opinion! This town was easily our favorite of the entire country. Not only because it happens to be one of the best areas for catching the northern lights (check!), but it's the perfect combination of quaint and modern.
A lot of areas of Iceland seem completely rural, while Reyjavik looks mostly industrial with lots square, warehouse-looking buildings. Akureyri, however, with its brick streets and colorful, charismatic cafes, welcomed us in and held our attention for longer than we originally intended. We loved the town so much we stuck around the next morning to have tea and coffee in this charming book shop.
We gave into stopping for horses yet again. This time because of the beautiful mountains landscaping their pasture and the unusual coloring of a few of these ponies. The white horse with a black head stood out as well as this tan looker with the most incredible of all manes.
Hvitserkur is home to this basalt stack shaped like a drinking dragon. This area was lovely for simply staring out at the ocean and for stretching out our legs with a mild hike. We originally planned to camp at a nearby campsite, but it was not open and by this point we really wanted a shower.
Luck was not ever in our favor as it turned out. We drove to the next "available" campsite, Búðardalur, claiming to be open, but found it void of running water. Another night without a shower. Did I mention how carefully you should choose who you camper van with? Make sure you're both up for baby wipe baths when the time calls for it.
Day 6 didn't show us any grace either. By the morning rain and hail poured down on us and we felt the urge to get moving as soon as possible. Thank goodness we did as heavy winds blew snow drifts directly towards us, limiting our view on an already winding, treacherous road. The wind grabbed hold of our van on numerous occasions, increasing our desire to get south from the northern coast and towards civilization.
To top things off this was the first point of the trip at which our gas dropped dangerously low. We decided to cut two stops off our itinerary to make it into town and breakfast sooner. I'd read incredible things about the waffles and cream at Kaffi Kyrrð in Blómasetrið. It's an amusing flowershop slash bed and breakfast, filled lots of little novelties and character. We waited out the relentless rain and then made our way back on the road.
Things were starting to look up when, WHOOSH. Off flies one of our side windows. The wind sucked that baby right off the glue and sent it flying 30 yards down the road. James pulled over, hunted it down and fought off gusts of wind and rain that tried to send him into the road. As water entered our van we decided to call Happy Campers and formulate a new plan.
We found a grocery store, where we purchased a poncho to wrap around the void where our window once shielded us from the elements. Then we waited for Happy Campers to direct us to the nearest repair shop. The shop taped up our window, but advised against doing much more driving. Luckily we were only an hour and a half outside of Reykjavik, having made it around the ring much sooner than anticipated. We decided to turn in our camper two days early and spend that time wandering Reykjavik. At this point neither one of us was too upset about spending two extra nights in a hotel room, with its large bed and premium shower.
We dined on some average ramen at a place with rave reviews, but the evening picked up at Micro Bar where we enjoyed some uncommon beers from around the world and challenged each other to some drinking games. We didn't have to drive for the first time all vacation!
Two blunders and about every weather condition possible by this point rounded out our camper van experience. I look forward to sharing our days in Reykjavik in the final, Part Four of this series!