Day 8 - Do you smell something?

Day 8 - Do you smell something?

Today's trip lead me the rather short way from Akureyri to Myvatn (for some reason the n is silent). Although short, this trip turned out quite eventful. In that order today's activities included, watching a waterfall, driving up a volcano, climbing a volcano, watching the earch pass some gas and getting soaked in thermal water.

To do the waterfall justice, it's not any waterfall in Iceland but the Goðafoss (Gods' Fall), one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the country.

The story goes that sometime between 999 and 1000 the local chieftain was tasked by the Alþingi, the icelandic parliament, to convert the people in his area to christianity. Upon his return from the Alþingi, he threw the idols and statues of the old nordic gods into the waterfall, giving it the name Gods' Fall or Goðafoss.

For context, the combined width of all parts of the Goðafoss are 33 meters wide and at the highest, the water drops 12 meters.

From this humbling experience with falling gods my journey continued into the region of Myvatn. This trip takes about 40 minutes and would have been uneventful if it hadn't been for another round of "who the hell asked for more snow?", this time also piling up on the road. This meant slow going on the one hand and a change of plans on the other hand. My original plan for this day was to do some hiking between a group of fascinating locations that are near to each other. This plan was blown away by wind, snow, and low visibility, really not the best combination to hike up a mountain.

So I limited myself to one spot near the car park, Hverarönd. This has a number of impressive features. Bubbling mud, crazy colours, and a very striking aroma (meaning that you open the car door and tears run to your eyes because of the overwhelming sulur smell).

For some reason I felt the urge to be spontaneous and make a run (or drive to be more precisely) for one of the more accessible Volcano craters in the area. As luck would have it, halfway to my destination, the snow stopped and the sky cleared somewhat.

This was also the first time I was really glad to have a 4WD car, as I came to a steep snowy incline just in time to see two other cars slowly reversing down the road. After a slow crawl up I was greeted by these views

Looking at the clock, I had time for one more stop along the way before going to my hotel. So my trip continued to Hverfjall, an eruption crater that can be reached within a 20 minute hike. Unfortunately my time on top was cut short by the next wall of snow that announced itself by swallowing all the surrounding mountains, so I made my way down again before having a chance to explore the crater itself.

Being cut short again I made my way to the hotel for an early check-in to drop of my luggage and pack my bathing shorts and a towel to prepare for the last excursion of the day, before settling in at the hotel.

This excursion lead me to the Myvatn Natural Baths, or as the travel guides like to call it, the northern answer to the Blue Lagoon. In factual description those are two large man-made basins that are constantly filled with thermal water at arround 37° that comes from the geo-thermal powerplant next door (when the water comes out of the earth, it's way hotter and after being used for heating and generating power, it still has 120° when it reaches the bath's in-take tanks.

As taking pictures of a number of people in the pool without their consent might be considered rude, here's the photo shamelessly borrowed from the official website (you just have to imagine the landscape looking like the picture above).

As the water is volcanic in origin it also has quite a sulfur smell. And as the outside temperature was around -1° at the time of my visit the whole water area as well as the in-take tanks were steaming crazily, placing the whole area under a thick cover of fog (occasionally blown away by the wind). And as it was snowing during my visit the whole scenary is simply beyond my to put into words...