The internet in the room was so slow, it was not worth using but I discovered it was fine at the dining room so I did my email and posted by blog and left later than I hoped. Leaving Vik, one enters the volcanic lava fields which go for miles, only punctuated by glacial rivers that make their way to the sea in delta-type channels. The lava fields are extraordinary, some are black, flat deserts, others black deserts but supporting wonderful wild flowers and grasses, others are more rugged and some are rugged but covered with what looks like sponge. It is actually, moss. I had set myself what I would recommend as two days of travel in one so I did not stop as much as I would have liked.
As the road leaves the lave fields, the first finger of the Vatnajokull glacier appears and it really is a humbling sight. Driving and trying to look was a dangerous pursuit! I then arrived at Jokulsarlon where the mighty glacier calves icebergs which slowly makes their way out to sea. I was unlucky, it was very foggy and wet but it was still a great spectacle. It is possible to go out in zodiacs and ‘ducks’ to see the glacier and icebergs up close and personal!
There was a serious incentive to keep moving towards Hofn. The reason was the Humerhofnin restaurant. You see Hofn is the centre of the world when it comes to my absolute favourite dish which is Icelandic lobster tails and Humerhofnin is the place where they do a wonderful job preparing them in melted butter with garlic, a dusting of paprika with a side salad. They really are ‘melt-in-your-mouth fantastic and it is worth making sure that you are in Hofn for lunch or dinner or both! Pudding was almost as good, vanilla skyr with cream, forest fruit sauce and chocolate biscuit in the bottom! If you took my advice and did today’s journey in two days, you would likely stop at Hofn having had a really interesting day looking at the lava fields and glacier. I checked out the Hotel Hofn which looks a bit severe on the outside but the rooms are typically Scandinavian clean and a decent size with good, clean bathrooms. It is not amazing but perfectly good and comfortable and friendly staff.
From Hofn, I pushed on again lamenting that I did not have more tails! Destination was Egilsstadir via visting Throstur Ellidason at the Breidalsa river. It was great to see Throstur again and the lodge looked in perfect condition as always and I was reminded how different the Breidalsa Lodge is to other lodges in Iceland with its proper interior decoration. Throstur kindly offered me some fishing but I felt I needed to keep moving. I headed up the Breidalsa valley which is one of my favourite drives. One can see the entire catchment area with a little stream at the top, the very beginning of one of Iceland’s top salmon rivers.
The drive to Egilsstadir was about an hour and a half and I arrived there at about 6.30 pm. I went to the Edda Hotel (a pretty interesting set up which I’ll explain) but they did not have a booking for me. Something had gone wrong! Ouch, particularly as every hotel in Iceland seems to be sold out. They said they would try and help me and to come back. So, I went to the Cafe Nielsen for an early supper which proved another highlight of my day. Some key advice, get there by 7pm because it was almost empty when I got there but filled rapidly in the next 40 minutes and understandably so. I had the lobster soup and calamari and yes, the soup was full of pretty much full-sized lobster tails! Wonderful! This is a great place.
The Edda managed to sort a room out for me. That was the good news. The bad news was that it was 60+ minutes away at a coastal town called Neskaupstadur. I had no choice and off I headed, happy with my wonderful lobster soup but not happy with my extra driving. I soon calmed as the drive proved to be utterly spectacular. A wonderful glacial valley to start with, endless waterfalls and then a dramatic fjord town of Reydarfjordur. Then on, past a huge aluminium factory and up into the mountains again. This time I descended on to the town of Eskifjordur. Then up another huge mountain, in to the clouds this time before my final descent in to Neskaupstadur where I found the Edda Hotel.
This is a chain of 12 hotels around Iceland where they rent boarding schools from the state in the summer. Sounds dodgy I hear you say but my room was spotless, the shower wonderfully powerful and the lady in charge was extremely helpful. Breakfast was not amazing but absolutely fine with some very good raisin walnut toast! Finally, just look at the view from my room! Bottom line, if you want to go out of the way and see a place like Neskaupstadur, then the hotel is fine and should not deter you. Tomorrow is another day…