Dalshöfdi Guesthouse’s beds were soooo comfy! Fortunately we didn’t sleep in as breakfast turned into a race to get food before the party of Germans staying in the apartment, inhaled it all. I’ve never seen slim people eat so much! Fortunately we’re not big eaters, especially in the morning, and as the dining room was a tad warm we didn’t want to linger too long, so by 8.45am we were on the road.
Before leaving the UK, Rich had used Google maps to find a wilder alternative to Jökulsárlón – the very popular Glacier Lagoon, so we programmed the chosen destination into Dervla (our satnav), and after leaving the ring road, drove (very slowly) down a rough gravel track to Svínafellsjökull. Two words: “oh my!” This place was like a dream. Up close to the glacier snout and icebergs, without the tourists and tat. We arrived to find just the one car parked up, and two very Icelandic looking guys playing with a camera drone. When I asked to see the footage, I was very surprised to find that they were actually two red headed brothers from Bristol, and had bought their Icelandic jumpers only the day before. As film school students they were hoping to be able to sell the footage, which was indeed brilliant.
We followed the mountaineering track a little way up towards the snout of the glacier, until the warning signs became too scary, and then walked to the front of the glacial pool and marvelled at the scenery. Breathtaking. So much so that just a few miles down the road, Jökulsárlón came as something of a disappointment with its heaving car parks, and lack of ice bergs – it was too early in the year for them to start calving off. Still, we used the loos, had a quick picnic lunch, and then drove on to Höfn. Whilst the ring road at this time of year is quiet enough to stop by the roadside to go to the toilet, without being accused of flashing passing cars, we found that a huge increase in camper vans has led to people to some people using parking spots as a toilet, and not making any attempts to hide or remove their waste. Arriving at a view point to find piles of poo, is not ideal.
All the while, the road was lined with snow topped peaks on one side, and black sand beaches on the other. We even had an encounteer with the wild reindeer that East Iceland is famous for – I had to screech to a halt as two decided to cross the road, cars or no cars. After refuelling at Höfn, I drove us to Djúpivogur, where Rich took over driving the last stretch to our base for the next few nights – Hóll cottage in Fáskrúðsfjörður, one of Iceland’s eastern fjords. Of all the fjords we’d passed, this one had the most snow, and looked the most magnificent. Fáskrúðsfjörður is a small town with oodles of character, and comes complete with a supermarket, swimming pool and hot pot, post office, vinbudin (off licence), restaurant and hotel, cafe, and views to die for.
The cottage is one of the oldest in town, and is sited on a hill. It’s just what we love – quirky, rustic, cosy, comfortable, well equipped, and with enough nooks and crannies to keep us occupied for days. After a chicken tikka dinner, courtesy of Chef Rich, we went for a stroll as day turned to dusk, to soak up the atmosphere, and get our bearings. We chose well, coming here.