West Iceland: Reykholt, Hraunfossar, Barnafossar and Akranes

West Iceland

So…we passed the stormy night in the car without incident and of course, about 3 km down the road, there was a guesthouse and restaurant where we could have slept comfortably and gotten a reaaaaally good deal, since it’s in bumfuck and appeared to have not a single guest.

We got coffee and picked up some area pamphlets, which then derailed us for the next hours. We have this thing for geothermal pools, right? And what’s better than a “natural” pool, just off the side of the road, without tourists or facilities? Something we would practically stumble upon along a short hike, and then proceed to lounge in nude, just because we can, gazing at the pastural scenery?

One of the pamphlets (which, come to think of it, was pretty dusty and probably a decade old) promised that pool, in a tiny, offhand blurb. So we set off, following the scant directions, turning down gravel roads and backtracking multiple times. Finally we saw another car stopped on the side of a deserted road and figured they had to be looking for the same spot.

These Canadians were smart. They had a book of natural hot springs and a GPS. So we let them go ahead before following at a scarcely discreet distance (probably ruining all of their bathing nude dreams), crossing an (icy—I checked) creek by inching along an ancient, fat pipe and then climbing a hill with such a small trickle running down it, you could hardly call it a stream (the water did get progressively warmer but never hot). Then we came across the Canadians again. They’d found a tiny, hot-ish hole, suitable for a person and a half, and had decided to call it a day. We walked further up but found nothing wide enough to consider a pool, and then headed back, so the Canadians could nestle on each other’s laps in privacy.

On the way back, I think we actually found the “pool” pictured, which was lukewarm and covered with a thick layer of green moss. So much for becoming wood nymphs.

snorristurlsonhome

So, three hours delayed, we headed towards Reykholt, a cultural center and church and the former home of Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241), a historian, politician and author of Iceland’s historic sagas. The drizzle was back as, in less than an hour, we took in the quaint, teensy church (with a model ship suspended from the ceiling, a sort of charm to keep fishermen safe), Snorri’s outdoor geothermal bath and a large gift shop. There’s also an indoor area of exhibits but there was a fee, and our attention span was already kind of shot. (Btw, we missed The Sagas Museum in Reykajvik, but I’ve heard it’s great.)

Hraunfossar

Our next stop was Hraunfossar and Barnafossar. Hraunfossar is a series of waterfalls, rivulets streaming over a lava-field. From there, we walked to Barnafossar, or “waterfall of the children.” It’s name comes from local lore, that two boys disobeyed their parents and crossed a natural bridge spanning the falls, only to fall in and drown. Their mother is said to have cast a spell on the bridge, so that everyone who attempted to cross it drowned. Soon after, an earthquake destroyed the bridge. (It also pounds through a circular hole in a rock, which I tried not-entirely-successfully, to capture below.)

Barnafossar

Finally, by mid-afternoon we made it to Akranes. Borghildur was gone for the day, but she’d left the door open. By the time we found her cozy, sunlit house with a sea for a backyard, we were ready for some r&r. We’d been treating night like day for over a week.

West Iceland sea

We settled on different couches, Jamie with the second of the Neapolitan books and me with the first (borrowed from her). Eventually I went to the town pool for a soak, and we ate dinner out of our grocery stashes. Around 10pm, Borghildur still hadn’t returned, so we found her daughter’s room, which appeared to be made up for us and had legitimate black-out curtains, and slept deeply.

Birds of happiness
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