The journey out of Neskaupstadur was looking grim with very low cloud. My view was gone by morning. But as I left things improved a bit and I was able to see some wonderful views down the fjord and overlooking Eskifjordur. My destination was Egilsstadir and then on to Seydisfjordur which I had heard was another wonderful drive and outpost town.
Having visited the Hringhotel at Egilsstadir (which was another bland looking hotel but with the usual very clean rooms and nice people) I was intrigued to see the Hotel Aldan at Seydisfjordur which I had been told was the place to go rather than Egilsstadir.
As I came down the mountain and entered Seydisfjordur there was the Hotel Aldan. I was confused, it looked tiny. I went inside and it appeared to be just a rather traditional coffee shop. I then asked about seeing rooms and it turns out that I had arrived at headquarters which is the coffeeshop/dining room but the actual rooms were in two other buildings. The better of the two with bigger rooms and more modern was what they call the Old Bank. Rooms were a good size, excellent bathrooms and good internet etc. It was the most characterful hotel I had seen to date. So, I would recommend the Aldan first over staying in Egilsstadir, it is only a 22kms drive over the mountains, which sadly, were all cloud when I drove over. It would not be the end of the world to stay in Egilsstadir (driving Iceland is not about hotels) and especially with Kaffi Nielsen there but the Aldan would be a better choice.
Given the calibre of the internet, how incredibly nice all the staff at the hotel were (inc the owners) I decided to stay and catch up on emails, blogging and have lunch. It was worth it though lobster tails are only on the menu in the evenings! I had chicken with wheat and salad, but every dish looked wonderful, check out the goats cheese salad!
Before leaving Seydisfjordur I drove around now that the rain had stopped. It is full of wooden buildings of Norwegian origin of all different shapes and colours. I dropped by the church which was stunning inside and there were two girls there in deep discussion over a computer. I asked them what they were to do with the church and they explained that they cleaned it. I then asked if they hang out and check out Facebook when not cleaning and they grinned and said yes!
I drove back to Egilsstadir and headed north-west with Akureyri as my final destination. On the way you cross the Jokla river which is another of Throstur Ellidasson’s rivers and doing very well. It is the river which disappears into the ground and reappears about fifty yards later! Then up over of barren deserts which are very Lord of the Rings. I enjoyed the contrast of the lupins growing in the Dimmifligardur desert. I felt that Mt Doom was around the next corner. Before arriving I crossed the mighty Jokulsa river where 30kms down stream is the huge Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe at 44m high and 100m wide. Just before Lake Myvatn I stopped at Namaskard to see the steaming and violently bubbling sulphurous mud pits amid a weird orange and yellow landscape. Really extraordinary but very cool…well hot actually! Over the hill is Jarobobin where there is a mini-blue lagoon and you can swim in geothermal, mineral rich waters and then Lake Myvatn is the next stop.
From Myvatn it was another hour’s drive to Akureyri and the magnificent view as one arrives overlooking the Eyjafjordur. Akureyri, also known as ‘Danish Town’ is the capital of the north and Iceland’s fourth largest town. It is very attractive and there is some good shopping to be had. All the cool Icelandic brands are well represented here. It is also a city of art with plenty of galleries, schools and a university. The church is considered one of the most beautiful in the country and well worth a visit.
Just by the church is the Kea Hotel, one of three in Akureyri, but this one is ideally situated to walk into the best parts of town. It has good rooms and an excellent dining room with lobster tails heavily featured! I decided to check out the restaurant opposite which had been recommended to me, it is called Rub23. The ‘Rub’ is the seasoning they use on various dishes. This is a good fish restaurant but with other dishes. In fact everything looked great on every passing plate I checked out. I had some sushi followed by, you guessed it Lobster Tails Rub23! They were wonderful! For pudding I felt that the chocolate mousse needed to be sampled and it was superb too!