Sunday, 21 February 2016

ICELAND ROAD TRIP: Djúpavík to Akureyri


After a midnight arrival at our hotel in Djúpavík the previous evening we weren't able to enjoy the luxury of a lie in as we knew our seventh day in Iceland would be the longest yet. I have no idea how much driving we did that day but it was probably the most of our entire road trip. That being said we managed to fit in loads of fun things.

The day started with a 4 hour detour all in the name of swimming. I'd been hoping to visit this secluded swimming pool the previous day but that was before I realised that the roads in this part of Iceland are little more than dirt tracks therefore tripling our journey time everywhere. Nevertheless we made it to the beautiful pool Krossneslaug in Norðurfjörður straight away breakfast. It took over an hour to drive the short distance from Djúpavík but it was 100% worth it for the views and secluded feeling. We were lucky that the only people there during our visit were the caretakers as they told us that some days several hundred people can be found swimming at the pool.

There isn't much to see in Norðurfjörður but there was fortunately a petrol pump as our fuel was running low. After an enjoyable swimming we headed back towards Djúpavík as there were a few things we wanted to check out before driving even further south.














Djúpavík is a lovely little village. It used to be a big herring processing area but when the herring factory closed in 1950 the town became practically deserted. Hotel Djúpavík where we stayed looks after the factory now and does tours. We didn't have time for a full blown tour but we did spend a little town walking around and checking out the free art exhibitions. When we arrived the previous evening the factory had quite an eerie vibe but during the day we had nothing to be scared of. Back in 2007 Sigur Rós did a gig here for their live DVD and I've since said to Steve that if they (or another Icelandic band we love) ever do something similar we will be back in a heartbeat.

Djúpavík is a huge diversion from the standard ring road trial in Iceland and there really isn't much to do apart from chill and hike but of all the places we visited during our 2 week visit this was one of the most charming and memorable villages we had the pleasure of staying in. There are fewer greater feelings than waking up in village that feels like the literal edge of the world. The air was so crisp I've never breathed anything like it before and the scenery captivated me long after we left. The sense of isolation you'll feel here is truly remarkable and I really do hope to visit again one day.



Drift wood washed ashore from across the Arctic ocean all the way from Siberia.




As we drove further south we passed through Drangsnes where we stopped the previous evening to visit the roadside hot pots. This time we stopped to check out Sorcerer's Cottage which is part of the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft. This turf roofed cottage is a typical dwelling from a couple of centuries ago and whilst it's tiny there's lots of interesting artefacts to look at inside. It's found next door to Hotel Laugarholl which has a lovely geothermal pool but as we'd already been swimming once that day we definitely didn't have time for another dip.



 
After a brief stop in Drangsnes we drove on to Holmavik where we visited the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft HQ. This was a small but interesting museum chronicling the trials, traditions and superstitions of the Icelandic witches. One of the more 'interesting' exhibits was the necropants, trousers made from the flesh of a dead person...


We stopped for a bite of lunch in the cute Cafe Riis. Of course we had soup because that's the only thing we ate in Iceland. Once we left Holmavik that's when the main bulk of the driving began as we didn't have much time to stop until we reached our apartment for the evening. The drive was lovely if a little less dramatic compared to the West Fjords. The couple of hours we spent driving around the trollaskagi peninsula once we left the ring road in the north was beautiful. I didn't take many photos on the way because the weather was quite overcast so everything looked a little grey plus I did manage to sneak in a couple of cat naps whilst Steve drove. 






Whilst driving around the trollaskagi peninsula we stopped in Hofsos for snacks i.e. hot dogs and ice cream. I'd wanted to visit the local swimming pool which boasts infinity views over the ocean but unfortunately we arrived just after is closed.








 


I was really hoping we'd reach Siglufjörður in time to visit the Herring Era Museum but alas I'd under estimated how long we'd been driving that day. At least we arrived in town whilst it was still light enough to appreciate the cute, colourful houses. If we'd had more time I really would have enjoyed spending a couple hours exploring this fjord side village.



We reached Dalvík around 10pm that evening, the last town before our final stop. I'd read about the cute cafe Kaffihûs Bakkabrædra just off the main road and fortunately it was still open. We grabbed a delicious bowl of fish soup, probably the best on our trip and a basket of freshly made bread. We spent ages talking to the owner, sharing travel trips and hearing crazy stories about passing by travellers. The cafe was the perfect rest stop for an hour or two and I really do wish we had the time to go back for a second visit.




We finally made it to Akureyri around midnight after a long day of driving. Akureyri is Iceland's second city and it's found right in the north of the country. We stayed in a self contained apartment / holiday home at Sæluhús which is just outside the main city centre. Our apartment was very modern with everything you could possibly need including a hot tub. The patio looked across Eyjafjörður which is the fjord the city is built around. We only stayed for one night so we turned the hot tub on that evening as we knew we wouldn't have an opportunity to use it again. In an ideal world I'd recommend staying in Akureyri for two nights as there's plenty to do in the surrounding area.

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