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Oh good lord, how many days has it been since I said I'd come back and tell more about Iceland? Too many. Let's see how far we can get this time.

Day 3 (Borgarnes to Akureyri):
We left our large room with little incident (although the warm water in the shower was really sulfury) and set off for adventure. Our travel company had given us a travel package that included a book with suggestions and area attractions, so we had heard there were some lava fields nearby with very weird formations. Because Mike's phone was still not working very well (and we hadn't quite gotten the hang of figuring out where we were going the night before), we had a tense moment in an apartment parking lot trying to figure out if we were in the right spot, but we were able to get some coordinates and go on our way.

The lava fields (Grabrok Vulkan) was one of our more forgettable experiences, I think. Because we were still confused on directions and jet-lagged and such, we didn't know much about the fields and mostly took a little walk and some pictures before getting back in the car. To be fair, though, the pictures we did get were pretty interesting to look at later.

From there, we set out for the national seal center in Hvammstangi. This is a port where you can take a boat out to see the seals as well as puffins. Unfortunately, when we pulled up, the afternoon boat was already leaving, and we wouldn't have a chance to go for several hours. We cut our losses and walked on the beach, hoping to see some seals, but they were nowhere to be found. As for puffins, I guess we came at the wrong time of year for them because they had already migrated, so even though we heard a lot about them and saw puffin paraphernalia everywhere, we never saw any seals or puffins. Darn.

After driving for a while to get to our next destination, which was several miles from the seal center, we stopped at a weird turn-out in the road. While we never really understood what the significance of the little statue on the side of the road was, we were able to see some Icelandic horses on the other side of a fence, one of which came up to the fence and was letting people pet him. (Both of these horses were total hams. You could tell tourists stop there frequently by the way they preened for the camera, though I was afraid more than the other tourists that the horse letting them pet him was fixing to bite them. Haha.)

Our next stop was at Glaumbaer. This was a site where very old turf homes were still standing alongside some newer homes, which altogether represented 1000 years of Icelandic architecture. I had seen peat homes before in Ireland, which were similar, but these were houses with walls made entirely out of living grass. The fronts of the houses as well as the windows were glass and wood along with a real tin roof, but otherwise it was all grass. Very weird! The information at the site said that they thought these houses were original to the site, but on further research, they found that the homes had actually been moved from another place, which blows my mind. The newer homes sported turf on the roof, and the newest house had no turf influence at all, but it was fascinating to see what people used to build with. There was also a fence made out of turf as well as a teeny church on site, which boasted its own relics inside. Hard to imagine life on a turf farm.

From there, we drove the final few hours to Akureyri, where we got lost searching for the hotel but finally were able to make Garmin tell us where we were going. We stayed in what felt like a converted dorm, mostly because it was right next to the local college and swarming with students, haha. (Because of the boom of tourism to Iceland over the years, they have taken old school dorms and revamped them for tourists during the season, so they didn't have to build hotels everywhere. Pretty smart, really.) In town, we went to a pretty expensive sushi joint, where we had a crazy feast of sushi featuring really fresh fish and a crazy pretty dessert. Unfortunately, Mike and I are still very spoiled by all-you-can-eat sushi at home, so we left kind of hungry. From there, we promptly got lost again, and because we were walking, it was a long haul to get back to the hotel. One of my better step days, and the TV basically didn't work when we got back to the room, so woo.

Day 4 (Akureyri to Husavik):
Given how frequently we got lost in Akureyri, I think we were both glad to hit the road again. About this time, we had settled on Mike's phone not working, so we had planned a little better for the drive ahead. Mike set the GPS for our next destination, and while he was driving, I saw a bunch of cars and tour buses on the side of the road next to a road sign reading "Godafoss". While we went on this solo-driving trip to avoid crowds, I couldn't resist having Mike pull over because I remembered reading about this particular site. We got out of the car and walked toward where all the people were, and we ended up seeing the far end of what they call the "Waterfalls of the Gods." Aptly named, these waterfalls were really impressive and are touted as Iceland's most beautiful waterfall. I asked Mike to walk with me down to the falls, which I didn't think disappointed despite the ridiculous crowd of people. The pictures we got were worth it. Very cool to see.

From there, the drive took a sinister turn. We headed toward Lake Myvatin (translated as "Midge Lake"; for good reason because there were bugs everywhere. So many bugs are there in the summer in fact that they have one of the most diverse bird breeding grounds in the world. More on that later.) Near Lake Myvatin, we turned toward the Gates of Hell. Okay, not literally, but ones of Icelandic folklore: Dimmuborgir. Those fans of dark metal will recognize the name, since a prominent metal band is named for it. Anyway, the place is so named for its very distinctive lava formations, which are black, craggy and large. The effect was somewhat lost on us because this is one of the rarer days that we had great weather, so even when I had Mike pull his best metal pose in front of one of the formations, it was way too sunny to conjure up visions of demons.

Nearby, the guidebook talked about a man who had one of the largest private bird collections near Lake Myvatin that he had recently opened to the public, which would make sense given the amount of birds that mate there in the summer. We didn't know what bird collection meant exactly, but since we both love birds, we decided to give it a shot. It turned out "bird collection" meant taxidermied birds in a room with signs and lights that identified the birds and where they came from. The collection also had a large number of eggs as well as some seperate information about how the collector used his boat in the times before there was mass transit in Iceland (lol) to get supplies across Lake Myvatin.

One of the pitfalls of relying on coordinates rather than addresses to travel is the coordinates were often close but wrong. Our garmin would frequently tell us to navigate off road (haha, no thanks) or take us places with nothing we wanted to see in sight. During one of these missed coordinate adventures, we drove through some geothermal plants and saw some tour buses in the distance but kept driving. After Garmin got us entirely off-course, we decided to go back to where the tour buses were and see what they were looking at. It turned out these tourists were looking at some geothermal mud pits: Namafjall Hverir. The geothermal activity was so intense in this area that the mud pits were boiling in spots. We were also treated to that familiar rotten egg smell. I had Mike repose here, and he got a much better metal shot.

We went on to Husavik, a village known mostly for whale-watching and our stop for the night. Here we were delighted to find we'd stay two nights, which gave us time to contemplate if we'd be able to swing whale-watching. We went into town, where I had a lobster sandwich at a very hipster place next to the whale museum, and during dinner, we were treated to one of the servers singing along to Rick Astleys "Never Going to Give You Up." Never thought I'd say I'd been rick-rolled in Iceland, but there we are.

As you can see, we packed a lot into all of our days in Iceland, so it's taking much more effort to write about than I anticipated. I'm just glad I kept up on posting pictures. Otherwise, I wouldn't have had a clear timeline on what we did. I will try to come back tomorrow and finish this, mostly because there's a ton going on in real-life, and I ought to clear this before getting to all of that. Let's try tomorrow!


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