Reykjavik and Western Iceland
I knew my travels around Iceland were coming to an end as I awoke in Borgarfjorour in west. I had just spent two days in the north just hours ago. I didn’t expect much since the first five days have been so amazing.
The day started with a trek up one of the many volcanic craters on the island. It was a steep hike up hundreds of steps to the top that provided a wonderful view of the surrounding area. It’s a firsthand look at how Iceland was created.
The next stop was Reykholt, one of Iceland’s most historical sites. You can visit a home from the medieval period, a home made of wood, stone, and covered in earth to keep the interior dry and warm. Some farmers lived in these homes up to the early 1940’s, if you can believe it. There’s also an old picturesque church with a cemetery you can visit as well. This location was also the home of writer Snorri Sturluson who recorded the Old Norse language and mythology of medieval times. His work is invaluable to modern scholars. His home here, dating back to the Middle Ages in the early 1200’s, had a geothermally-heated pool and is one of the few things preserved whole from the medieval period. Imagine that, he had a year-round hot tub during a time when people lived in mud huts.
The final attraction of the six-day tour around Iceland would be the dual waterfalls of Barnafoss and Hraunfossar. Barnafoss, children’s falls, takes its name from a legend, one of many in Iceland. Long ago there was a widow and her two children that lived nearby the falls. The woman went to Christmas service but left her two children. When the widow came back from the evening service the children had disappeared. The whole town helped in the search and they found the children’s footsteps that led to a stone arch over the river. The children were never found. The woman had the arch destroyed so no one would ever cross the falls again.
Hraunfossar, the lower falls, doesn’t have the mythology of Barnafoss but it makes up for it in just sheer beauty. This is one of my favorite falls in the country. The best way to describe it is a combination of multiple creeks and cascading waterfalls, small and large. The foliage around the waterfalls adds to the surreal feel with hues of orange, yellow and green.
By late afternoon, I was back in the capital city of Reykjavik located on the shores of Faxa Bay. Don’t look for a large city as Iceland only holds approximately 330,000 residents with about 200,000 living in Reykjavik. I stayed in the down town area and found it safe and clean with multiple shops and restaurants in the area. The city center is a small area characterized by eclectic and colorful homes.
I enjoyed roaming around the downtown area and its narrow streets from Hallgrimskirkja church to the Sun Voyager monument. If you don’t want to do a multi-day tour, there are multiple day tours you can do without leaving Reykjavik, even tour the Golden Circle.
With my six-day tour around Iceland in the past, I can look back and tell you that I made a wise decision. I didn’t have to worry about driving and getting lost, accommodations and meals were preplanned so I didn’t have to think about that either. My tour guide provided the history and mythology of each location that I may have not of known without him. I was able to see how beautiful this whole country is from region to region. The only complaint I have is the high prices. Being an isolated country, most of their goods have to be imported which drives the cost up. Although, in total, my Iceland Expedition was amazing and I would have to say it is now at the top of my list of countries that I have visited. The land of fire and ice (and waterfalls) exceeded my lofty expectations.