21 October 2017

My Scandinavian Adventure: Iceland—The Ring Road

Day 4: Dynjandi to Blonduos 493 km

Day 5: Blonduos to Lake Myvatn 239 km

Waking up at the majestic Dynjandi Falls at the head of a lovely fjord, I didn't know which way to turn my camp chair while I enjoyed my morning tea and skyr*: towards the massive striated basaltic peaks sloping down to the glassy inlet or the multiple dramatic falls. Honestly, I kept turning back and forth. Life's choices should always be so difficult.

Day 4 was our longest driving day and our last on Ring Road 2. We drove some rough gravel roads along the northern edge of the Westfjords. It was in and out of the fjords all day. Fjords fjor djays. Sublime weather. I don't have a photograph, but Thingeyri was the most lovely fjord town we passed. It's worth a look-see. We had to pass up some hiking and swimming opportunities because we needed to make some time.

We hooked back up with the regular Ring Road and parked our camper van for the night at a town called Blonduos on the mouth of the Blanda River. It has a busy riverside campsite that faces north looking out over the Greenland Sea. There is nothing here between you and the North Pole. During the night we could feel the weather changing, clouds moving in from the north. It was probably the coolest, windiest night of the trip, but the great hot showers more than made up for it.

Day 5. As we got back onto the main Ring Road, we found ourselves driving in a cloud the whole day. We stopped in the quaint town of Akureyri for lunch. It is a resort town along the north shore of Iceland with charming shops and eateries. Near the modern cathedral is a sizable botanical garden that has tons of plants you don't expect to see growing in Iceland.

The highlight of the day was Godafoss. We had been debating how and why the Vikings, after raiding, pillaging, and in some instances conquering and settling much of Europe from Scandinavia to Spain to Russia to Turkey, came to such an abrupt end at the turn of the first millennium. (Every river whose name starts with the Dn sound, for example, was sailed and named by Vikings—Danube, Dnieper, etc.). Turns out it was Jesus!

The pagan Vikings inter-related with Christians and Muslims throughout their travels. But it was their kings' conversions by Christian monks which ultimately tempered their ravaging ways. Godafoss, or the Falls of the Gods, is the place where the Viking king of Iceland first converted to Christianity and flung all his pagan idols into the base of the falls.

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*Pay attention: Skyr is Icelandic/Viking yogurt. It is strained, so it isn't as watery as what you get here in the U.S. It has way more protein and way less sugar than other varieties. In Iceland it's all whole milk and cream. The Icelanders claim the skyr cultures are 1000 years old. It was the best food discovery in Iceland, and now it's the only yogurt I eat. Found it in my local Sprouts! (Unfortunately, it also comes in skim and only slightly less denatured milk fat varieties here.)

[Click pics to embiggen]

Random roadside hike! Taking a break to stretch our legs on a long travel day in the Westfjords.
Longing last look at the placid Westfjords with its sublime weather.
The mouth of the Blanda River at Blonduos campsite. Note the clouds moving in from the Greenland Sea.
Another Roadside Attraction: Friendly Icelandic Pony near Blonduos. They are a special, local breed and are exceptionally gentle and social.
The harbor at Akureyri.
Downtown Akureyri.
Flowers in the Botanical Gardens in Akureyri.
Godafoss: The Gods Falls.
Wesdom contemplating the demise of the Vikings at Godafoss.
Silly Icelandic Troll photobombing my pic of Godafoss.

1 comment:

Sylvia French said...

Danube, Dnieper, Don, these are not Viking placenames for Jesus, they refer to the pre-Christian matriarchal goddess. You may recognize her as marry, she is La Donna, the Lady. She is why the Celts were led by female chieftans. She gave us peace, but the men couldn't hold their egos in check and brought us this age of war.