May 31: Reykjavik – Reykjanes Penninsula – Hveragerði
We slept well after yesterday’s adventures! I got up a little before 9 AM and showered. Trish was up by the time I was done. It didn’t take us long to pack up and we were ready to hit the road by 10 AM.
Unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to be quite rainy for the next few days, but at least we packed appropriately! We both have waterproof jackets and pants. Visibility was a little low heading out of Reykjavik but we had a pleasant first stop at Viking World Museum. The exhibits were modest but it was cute.
The main attraction is the Viking ship Íslendingur (the Icelander). It was built as an exact replica of the Gokstad ship, which was excavated from a burial mound in Norway in the late 1880s. The Gokstad dated back to about 870 AD, the same time the Vikings sailed to Iceland. The ship sailed from Iceland to New York in 2000 to commemorate Leifur Eiríksson’s voyage to North America.
We had a cup of coffee and watched a short video presentation about the run-up to the 2000 sailing trip.
On our way out, we picked up another souvenir, a wooden ornament shaped like Iceland. An 85-year-old man in town makes them in his shop and his wife adds the stain and ribbons!
We grabbed a quick, hearty lunch at Malai-Thai Restaurant.
Since visibility was low, we decided to skip the two lighthouses in Garðskagi and head straight for the Bridge Between Continents. Like yesterday, we could see the edge of the plates.
We continued around the tip of the peninsula on route 425. We cut off on a side road and eventually found the T-intersection described by our guidebook. We took the east path first and stopped at Reykjanesviti Lighthouse.
Neither of us felt the need to climb to the top, so we continued on ~500 more meters to the coast.
This was a cool stop! We were able to climb a small hill and get a gorgeous view of Valahnúkur Cliff (currently home to nesting seagulls).
We could also see several rock formations out at sea, including Karlinn (up close in the foreground) and the islet of Eldey way out there (left side by the horizon). Eldey is home to one of the largest colonies of Northern Gannet in the world.
We returned to the car and retraced our route back to the T-intersection and went down the western fork. This led to a geothermal area with steamy, bubbling mud pits. The largest, Gunnuhver hot spring, bubbled away merrily and emitted huge plumes of sulfurous steam.
We returned to the car and decided to head straight for our accommodations in Hveragerði. It rained pretty hard for the first part of the drive but cleared off as we arrived.
We tried to stop at Rósagarðurinn, one of Hveragerði’s famous greenhouse farms, but they weren’t giving tours because a plague wiped out all their roses!
We checked into Frost & Fire Boutique Hotel and the very nice woman at reception gave us a quick tour of the grounds. I think we have the best room in the hotel! We’re on the corner so we have panoramic views of one of Iceland’s only warm rivers.
Sadly, the spot you can swim in is located at the end of a hike that takes about an hour. However, from our room, we can see plumes of steam rising from the geothermal areas across the river.
Before dinner, we took a 2 km walk through part of Hveragerði and across the river through the geothermal areas.
We got to see our hotel from the other side!
The rain returned just as we got back to the hotel, so our timing was good.
We had dinner at the hotel restaurant, Varmá, tonight. They cook about half their menu in the hot spring in the parking lot!
We had their three-course meal, which was very tasty. The carrot puree was a particularly nice accompaniment to the lamb.