A travel story by Michela Garosi
Goðafoss, the “Waterfall of the Gods” is just the first of a series of wonders we encounter in Mývatn region. It’s almost time for a new sunset when we get there. A low dazzling sun surprises us with a magical rainbow rising from the waterfall, which is huge compared to the smaller waterfalls we have met along the way and it vaguely reminds me of the famous Niagara Waterfalls.
It’s easy to believe in legends and histories here. One of them tells about Thorgeir Thorkelsson, the law Speaker of the Icelandic Parliament, who threw his heathen gods into the falls opting for the conversion to Christianity from Norse paganism (the name Goðafoss comes from this fact).
Following the Ring Road our journey resumes eastward in Mývatn region until we get to the lake. Mývatn Lake covers a 37 Sq km volcanic area. The Icelandic name Mývatn means “Lake of Flies” due to the high presence of these small insects. Apart from the flies the colony of ducks that populate its banks the lake is flawless; maybe photos will help me to show the enchanting beauty of this landscape.
We’re so magnetized by its atmosphere that we decide to camp here. After some research we finally find a spot in Bjarg camping in Reykjahlíð on the east side of the lake. Once we have put up the tent, we’ve just to enjoy the warm glow of the sunset, one of the most beautiful endless sunset I’ve ever seen in my entire life. In June practically the sun never sets in Iceland, and at midnight there is still light, but even in August you can enjoy the long lasting brightness given by waters mirroring the glowing sky.
The day after we wash our face and teeth in outdoor sinks facing the lake and continue driving in the direction of the nearby cave of Grjótagjá, Mývatn Natural Baths (the “Blue Lagoon” of the North), geothermal area Námafjall and volcano Krafla, which now houses an emerald water basin. It is in Namafjall next to hot spurts and fumaroles where I touch firsthand what it really means “Land of Fire…” because in this country the underground talks and heats (the Icelanders also use this heat to bake bread)!
We proceed heading eastward among rivers and moonscapes. Soon the landscape around us changes again, and we find ourselves surrounded by boundless prairies, mountains in the distance and the middle row of our road which breaks the landscape creating a split from right to left. A look at the dashboard, and we have already passed almost half of 1332 kilometers that characterize the Icelandic Ring Road. The beauty of this country has distracted us so that we hardly notice distances!
As soon as we get closer to the eastern region, we spot the mountains’ peaks, so the first fjords and we leave Road 1 to take the 925 towards Borgarfjörður Eystri. This small village is known through the country as the land of Elves and puffins. No need to say that we would simply love to see some closer.
In the way to Borgarfjörður Eystri, just in the middle nowhere, we see one of the most interesting historical buildings of our entire adventure. Geirsstaðakirkja is a Viking Church dated 10-13th-second d.C. (the Viking Age) built following the traditional technique of the “Turf house” with thick turf as a thermal insulation material. In this lonely and magical scenery, we don’t meet the crowds you can find in many other landmarks around the country. The church was returned to its former splendor in summer 2001, after a major archaeological excavation and restoration work.
Even if it’s closing time, the door is still open, and we can visit the interior of this chapel. Nonetheless, we cannot stop from flying for a while above the area with our drone: the sheep here and there don’t seem to be scared, but curious.
It’s late afternoon when we finally head to Borgarfjörður Eystri. Here almost the entire colony of puffins has already gone, and all we have to do is to spend a few hours in the bay, strolling among the colorful
houses that populate the village and relax in a small spa. Tonight we don’t sleep in a tent, but in the welcoming Blábjörg Guesthouse, a former fish factory now converted to cozy accommodation. The guesthouse has 11 clean and tidy white color rooms, a communal kitchen, an apartment and a little spa with outdoor pools, hot tub as well as a sauna. Please leave me here!
To be continued …