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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Today was our day off, and we took advantage of it to go on a road trip to Mytvan. Mytvan is a local resort area about two hours away from us known for its hot springs and volcanic activity. We started the adventure from the outset, as we picked up a hitchhiker named Paige on our way out of Akureryi and took her to Mytvan with us. She's a freshman in college in North Carolina and here in Iceland to WWOOF on the barley farm in the east that we nearly worked on, which was preisntty funny. She was really sweet and we had a great time getting to know her as we drove through snowy mountain passes to Mytvan. We dropped her off at the grocery store at the little down in the area, though we saw her later headed towards a Guesthouse to wait until tomorrow--there weren't so many people out travelling on a Sunday.

Our first stop was the nature baths, which were the main purpose of our visit. It was quite pretty but snowing sideways, which isn't exactly the weather you want when you are visiting a hotsprings! Our muscles were so excited for the chance to relax a bit in the supposedly-healing waters that we weren't going to say no, though! It was a bit strange in the lagoon, as they had a couple of hot water output pipes running into it from the borehole they get it from, I guess, and if you got close to them, it was absolutely boiling, but if you got too far away it was pretty cool, and since the wind was blowing something fierce, it was hard to stay/find/keep in a good position. Eventually we found a relatively protected small lagoon that was pretty good, and then we finally discovered the hot tub, which was lagoon water, but in a man-made, temperature-controlled concrete tub, and sat in there for awhile, which was lovely.

Once we were finally thoroughly cooked, we got dressed again and headed to a little cafe for a snack, hoping to find Geysir Bread, which is a specialty bread baked underground using only the heat of the geothermal energy in the area to bake it. We ended up at a cute little place called the cowshed cafe, which from the outside doesn't look like much at all, but is a lovely little cafe and giftshop that they have recently re-done on the inside. They are nestled near the lake and have tons of windows to take advantage of their gorgeous view. One of the windows is in the gift shop and looks out into their cow barn, which is quite funny. We were saying that a month ago we would have been excited to see the cows and go meet them, but today we just tried to figure out how milking system worked as compared to ours.

We did indeed find the bread, which is thick and moist, and dark, and had a little bit of it with mozzarella from their own milk and tomatoes and a side salad, it was quite lovely. By that point the snow had stopped and things were brightening up a bit, so we got instructions on how to get to the nearby crater you can see from miles around (Hverfall), and drove through some very surreal volcanic surroundings to get to it. We took the 'easy' trail to get up, and while we made it just fine, it was still a pretty decent hike to the top of the crater. It was basically just a tromped-down path up the side of the volcanoe, and we were laughing that at home there would be rails and warning signs and pay parking and info boards and here we were basically just turned loose. It was shaped roughly as you would expect a volcano to be, and according to one of the brochures we picked up, it's a Tephra crater, which is quite a rare type, but occurs quite often in this particular area. We took some pictures but were getting pretty wind-blown, so we didn't stay up there for too long before heading back down to our car.

Next up it was over to some crazy lava formations at Dimmuborgir that we walked around in. A totally surreal Middle-Earth like place where the Icelandic Yule Lads live. We weren't at all surprised to be warned to avoid trolls and elves in this area, you could completely imagine how some little creature might pop out of a volcanic cave.

After that, we decided to complete our day in Mytvan by heading to Krafla, where you can see bubbling lava, but we ended up going onto a mountain pass on our road that was pretty snowy, and deciding not to send the station wagon sliding off the road, so we turned around before we got there, at a huge geothermal power plant that we happened along. Between the snow, black and white landscape, and huge industrial steaming plant, it was all very end of the earth/apocolyptic, and I was pretty happy to get out of there. We stopped at an info point to take a quick photo of some steaming earth kind of nearby, and then headed home.

On the way back, we stopped at Detifoss, which is Europe's most powerful waterfall. It was pretty funny as we approached it, there was a gorgeous view from the highway, and so we stopped, on the middle of a one lane bridge, turned on the flashers, and took our photo out of the window. Of course, that was the minute a car decided to turn up (the highway is always super quiet!) so I had to quickly start and get off the bridge, but it was probably my best start all day.

The waterfall was gorgeous, but we are so spoiled in Canada that it wasn't exceptionally impressive in size, but it is lovely and it was very pretty! After that we finished driving back to Akureryi and put 40$ worth of gas in the car, which only got us 16L of gas!

On the way back to the farm we stopped to look at the local church where B and T's family go. It was very cute and very pretty nestled in the valley. We had a look around the church and through the graveyard, which seemed to start with people born in the mid 1800s and then headed towards home. We actually kept going past the farm and parked at the side of the road about a mile up to do a couple of walks we had wanted to do for a while-one up to a waterfall on the side of the road which was really pretty, and then in the bottom of the valley we walked past an old sheep corral made out of volcanic rock, and then down to a river that runs through the valley.

Back home around 10, we had time to chat with Toryn for a bit, and then off to bed. Only two more days of farm chores to go!

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