Hitting the Road to Akureyri — Day 4 in Northern Iceland
Today, I picked up my rental car and jetted off to the town of Akureyri in northern Iceland! The drive, which was around five hours long, was pretty easy since they drive on the same side of the road as the U.S. I took Iceland’s Rt. 1, or otherwise known as the “Ring Road” to make it up here. Glad I got my fill of driving round-abouts in New Jersey because Iceland has a ton of them! I would also compare the single-lane road to US 20 (between Lancaster and Alden) or Hwy. 54 (in Sullivan County, IN). The car rental company offered a WiFi box for the car, which was awesome for directions.
And the scenery? OMG. It totally solidified my decision to rent a car and drive up this way. If I had stopped to take a pic of ever stream or waterfall I saw along the way, I would have never made it here.
The huge monument is dedicated to Stephan Stephansson, an Icelandic poet who emigrated to the US and later Canada before returning to Iceland when he was 64 years old. He is also known as the Rocky Mountain Poet. The monument overlooks the valley where he was born.
I had a late lunch at a place called Strikið — a wonderful little place on the shoreline with an outdoor patio. While it seems a bit sacrilegious to have sushi anywhere but Japan (since we had the real deal back in March), the waitress recommended the deep fried sushi, which was made from locally caught fish. I devoured it.
Then, I stopped in a few shops, checked out a very cool local church and visited the town’s botanical gardens. It made me think of my Grandma Weinheimer with all the shades of purple lupine (her favorite color!). And I couldn’t leave Akureyri without having the best ice cream in Iceland at Brynja (and it was delish!).
By then, it was 6:30 p.m. (Iceland time) and my legs were ready to fall off from all the walking I’ve done over the past four days. Since Sunday, I’ve logged almost 61,000 steps or over 30 miles. Yea. My out of shape stems (and every other body part) needed a break.
My host, who lives right in the heart of Akureyri, suggested I visit the local swimming pool, Sundlaug Akureyrar, if I had a chance. Icelandic pools are far different than pools in the U.S. because they are kept naturally warm through its geothermal activity and don’t require a ton of chemicals in the water. So no smelling like Chlorox! This complex had three large pools, hotpots (or as we call them, hot tubs) at three different temps, saunas and steamrooms. Boy, did the hotpots feel good on my legs! Fantastic experience!
Another “first” for this leg of my trip, is that I’ve booked all my stays on AirBnB! which I’ve never used before. So far so good. My Akureyri host, Halla, is wonderful and upgraded me from a single room to a two-room apartment! Made me wish I could stay longer to enjoy it but the road trip must go on. Tomorrow is more of a scenic tour up and around the coast of north Iceland. I’ll stay in a town called Hvammstangi, which is about two hours from here.
I also wanted to thank everyone for your kind comments on Facebook. I’m so glad you’re all coming along with me on this adventure!