In the absence of sage, we went straight to the Nautholsvik geothermal beach pool for a shower and general purification, but we still had awhile before the pool opened. So we drank our gas station coffee and read more Neapolitan stories and then, finally, were able to relax in the hot pool and watch people frolic on the beach in bathing suits, like 40-degree weather is balmy. (We also watched a very confused Icelandic girl try to have a conversation with another small girl who only understood French.)
From Seydisfjordur, it’s about a 2.5 hour drive to Lake Myvatn, which is one of the most interesting areas we visited. This day also turned out to be as much of a marathon as the day we accidentally walked 8km to the crashed plane in the wee morning hours, our sense of time and logic confused by the midnight sun.
We had planned to do the Hverir steam vents the next day, but on our way into town, we saw team rising just off Ring Road and stopped.
Welcome to the earth at it’s most primal (so much so, that it doesn’t feel like Earth at all but rather, other-worldly). We are greeted with a strong, sulfurous scent. Paths wind across cracked ground, through dozens of burping, bubbling, blue clay pits (sometimes shooting up like mini-geyers) and small piles of hissing clay emitting big puffs of stinky steam. It’s brings to mind the very literal concept of hell drilled into my childhood by Southern Baptist churches.
We finished Steam Valley in early afternoon and on our way to Vik, hit up some of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls. These sites were touristy but not so crowded that they weren’t enjoyable— at least, not in spring.
Just off of Ring Road, Seljalandsfoss is 213 feet tall and sounds like the apocalypse. In spring and summer, you can walk a slippery path behind the falls and bask in rainbow-filtered spray.
Gljufurarfoss is a short walk from Seljalandsfoss. At 131 feet it’s smaller, but it may be my favorite Icelandic waterfall. I’d recommend first (carefully!) the small, steep path that takes you through a crevice, about 60 feet up. There’s a rickety wooden ladder that you can climb to lean against a rock lip, close enough to feel the spray from the falls. From there you can peer down into the hidden rock pool below. (No wonder Icelanders believe in fairies.)