Day 7 Iceland Road Trip
Leaving Myvatn Nature Baths
Myvatn Nature Baths had been one of my favorite stops on our road trip around Iceland. My cousin Lesa and I had spent hours that morning soaking and relaxing, but it was time to hit the road. It was our 7th day driving Ring Road and exploring a multitude of off-roads as well. Now we were headed west from Myvatn to Hvitserkur. It was one of our longer driving days of the trip (about 235 miles if we didn’t stop anywhere else…which we were).
We were about 20 minutes along Ring Road when we came around the bend and Lake Másvatn came into view. The closer we got the more excited I became. The water was as still as glass and reflected a mirror perfect image of the cottony white cloud puffs and bright blue sky above.
I came to a screeching halt in the middle of Ring Road and launched myself out of the car.
“What is going on? What are you doing?” Lesa yelled from the passenger seat.
She has been looking at photos from the nature baths on her phone and has not noticed the stunning scene before us.
“Woah…” Lesa breathed as she stepped out. “That is amazing…”
“I know! I can’t believe it!” I was snapping off a million photos and running all over the road and shore line.
“I don’t think you are supposed to park there.” Lesa cautioned.
“It’s OK…” I shouted back “Nobody’s coming. This is incredible…
I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
I couldn’t comprehend that a sight like this could exist. Tears pricked my eyes as I stared at nature’s display before me. The colors were so vibrant it made me feel emotional.
When the clouds were dispersing and I could finally tear myself away, we continued west towards Godafoss.
Waterfall of the Gods-Godafoss
Godafoss, meaning waterfall of the gods, was high on my list of things I wanted to see. We saw the peacock blue river flowing under a bridge we crossed when we turned towards the parking area. We could see the falls from the bridge, but to see it close up was a little more of a precarious adventure.
Godafoss Waterfall Up Ahead
There were large sections of uneven lava rock leading up to the falls. Some areas required a small jump from one rock to the next.
“I am totally going to fall on my face.” I announced. “I am not that balanced even on flat ground.” I laughed and stepped cautiously onto the next black porous rock.
“We gotta see this up close, we’re doing it.” Lesa shouted to me as she balanced to the next rock.
At one point, we had to cross a small stream and had to choose; wading calf deep across slippery mossy rocks or hopping from rock to rock over the water to get to the other side.
We opted for the rocks. Lesa made it relatively easily to the other side. I was about halfway across when l began to question the grippiness of my beloved flip flops. I began an arms out, tightrope-walker stance as I slowly navigated incident-free for the rest of the way across.
On the other side, we could see two grassy islands coming out from the center of the falls, separating the flowing water into three sections. The contrast of the blue-blue against the lava rock was stunning. Storm clouds circled overhead and we stood, taking in the moment, the colors and the swirling cool air around us.
Iceland Akureyri – Here We Come
We traversed the stream safely back and made our way to the car. Further west, we came to the town of Akureyri. Most of the towns we passed through had only an N1 gas station and a small population but this was a larger city.
We checked out the Akureyrarkirkja Church, designed by the same architect as Reykjavík’s Hallgrímskirkja. The tall grey angular structure hulked before us. The bells on the basalt column building rang out on the hour. We waited a few minutes in the cold rain to hear the show. We stopped for pizza and headed west.
The Turf Church – Víðimýrarkirkja
We were getting cold so we got in the car and continued to our next stop, Víðimýrarkirkja Church in Skagafjörður. I was kind of obsessed with the turf houses and turf churches and was excited about this one. It was built in 1834 and was one of the six remaining turf churches left in Iceland.
Our GPS hadn’t been working for our whole road trip, so I was counting on my mapping skills and night time use of wi-fi at most of the guesthouses we stayed in to get us around the country.
The church was somewhat difficult to find and Lesa was urging me to give up. I knew we were in the vicinity so I continued searching…and after a few wrong turns, we finally made it to Víðimýrarkirkja.
The church was small, dark and triangular, surrounded by a green wooden fence. Inside the fence was a cemetery with large white crosses. The black painted building with red trimmed windows was covered in thick turf and seemed to be further insulated by stacks of crisscrossed wooden beams on the sides. We were alone at the site and it felt like we had been transported in time. We stood for a while, looking at the turf church against the mountain backdrop, then stopped for pizza and headed to our last stop on the list for the day, Pingeyrarkirkja Church.
Stormy Skies in Iceland
It was after 9 p.m. and I was hoping we would make it before dark. The road was slow going. It was no longer paved, only pitted gravel. I cringed as I heard pebbles pinging on the undercarriage of our rented car.
The rain had let up and the entire sky turned a golden yellow, making everything we saw look like it was glowing. A rainbow appeared over the shining field and we came across several horses.
Finding Gold…Icelandic Horses Under a Rainbow
As we made our slow approach, they looked in our direction.
“Look at their faces.” Lesa laughed. “They are like…move it along ladies.”
“More like…what are you weirdos doing all the way out here at this hour?” I laughed, slightly nervous about it getting dark before we found our way…without wi-fi or GPS.
The scene was incredible, the horses and the field glowing golden under the rainbow.
The Glowing Church –Pingeyrarkirkja
It was around 10 p.m. when we arrived at Pingeyrarkirkja. The wooden railing around the church appeared to have been carved in metallic gold. The building itself looked celestial. It was built of stone and it’s golden windows and shining doorway were illuminated in the late day sun. A rainbow arched over the scene, framing it perfectly and making us happy we made the stop.
End of the Day
It was getting to be dusk when we got back on Ring Road.
By 11 p.m. we arrived at Hotel Hvitserkur, our lodging for the evening. It seemed like we had been lost, that there was no way a hotel would be all the way out here…in the middle of nowhere. We were so relieved when the little red-trimmed, white building came into view in the endless field. We were the last guests to check in and the lobby was quiet. An attendant came out and got us settled in, informing us that the hotel was once a girl’s school with dorms.
We relaxed and thought about our day of extraordinary sights. Then I mapped the route for our next adventure around Vatnsnes Peninsula to spot seals and see the sea arch the following day.
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