We woke up after about 10 or 11 hours of sleep. It had been a long day; nearly 40 hours awake! We made some breakfast, showered, and dressed. After that, we loaded up our gear for the day and set out. We navigated to Gullfoss, which was about a half hour away. The road surfaces were entirely ice, so that added an adventurous element to the excursion. We stopped at a few places for some photos along the route, but realized it was perhaps a bit too early for good lighting. Once we arrived at Gullfoss, I realized that I forgot to wear anything besides my t-shirt and coat. A third layer was needed.
We wandered in and around the canyon for a while until the cold was really beginning to bite, then we went into the gift shop/cafeteria to thaw out and get a cup of coffee each. We used this time to plan what we were going to do next, as we hadn't yet figured that out. Once we'd determined a game plan, we made our way to the next stop.
The next stop happened to be Farmer's Bistro, back in Flúðir, where we were staying. Farmer's Bistro is a local farm that showcases their produce in their own restaurant. Nearly everything they serve is grown and harvested on site. I guess it is owing to the season that there was not a lot of variety; everything was mushrooms and bread. They told us that they are the only mushroom farm in Iceland. There was mushroom soup, three types of breads, and a bunch of different butters and spreads. The soup was amazing, and the garlic bread was our favorite. We ate until we were full, then we stopped at our house for a minute to put on another layer of clothes.
Dressed appropriately, we navigated next towards Þingvellir ("thing-va-leer") National Park. The park is situated on the boundary between two separating tectonic plates. This movement causes deep and narrow fissures to form, some wide enough to walk between. There is also a large lake in the park, and lots of geothermal activity. We wandered around enjoying the scenery in various parts of the park. Unfortunately, it seemed a lot of the hiking trails were closed because it's winter, so we didn't get to do much hiking. This is probably a blessing, though, because of the very limited daylight (sunrise isn't until nearly 10am!). We were making our way back to the car around 5pm as we were starting to lose daylight and the temperature drops pretty quickly!
We navigated back in the general direction of our house, pleased to find that there were bits of pavement exposed. We could even see the road paint in a few small spots! Back in Flúðir, we went to Secret Lagoon. This spot is similar to Blue Lagoon, though much smaller, much less popular, much cheaper, and much closer to home! (also it is not blue.) Relaxing in the natural geothermal hot water pool was a great way to thaw out from wandering about in the cold and wind all day. We met some fellow travellers in the pool and shared stories from all around the world. Once we were all wrinkly from the water, we got out and made the rest of the way home.
At least, we tried to get home. Along the way, there was a car off the side of the road. This wasn't the first we'd seen, and we felt guilty each time for being unable to offer any assistance. Back home, we have plenty of recovery gear and a proper vehicle to facilitate extraction. Our little Dacia Duster would be useless, even if we had the necessary equipment. As we approached the stuck vehice, we realized it wasn't actually stuck. "They have a tripod," Mandy said. "Well, that's wei- OH! The lights are out!" We stopped as soon as it was safe to do so, and started taking pictures.
The light show was amazing. We took pictures until they left, and then we finally got home to make dinner. I fiddled with the hot tub, per the host's instructions, to try to get it to fill with water. Unfortunately, I had no luck; previous guests may have caused some damage, somehow, we're not really sure. Oh well! Mandy cooked sweet potato, broccoli, and chicken thighs all of which were wicked tasty. After we cleaned up, we took a peek outside to see if the lights had come back. They had! We climbed up the hill behind our tiny cottage to get to a good vantage point and took some more pictures until they went away again.
After the encore, we climbed back down and went inside to find an e-mail from our rental car company. They sent a weather alert for the following day that several major roads would be closed due to extreme winds with gusts up to 90mph. They recommended postponing travel along the south coast of Iceland. That's where we were planning to go! Our Airbnb host for the next night had also messaged us to inform us of the severe weather alerts. She recommended getting to the south coast as early as possible (the storm was supposed to be the worst between 3pm and 10pm with road closures expected at noon). We debated our options. Our current host in Flúðir had offered us a free night due to the hot tub being non-functional. We could take them up on the offer but that would mean losing out on a night in Hrífunes ("ri-voo-ness") and likely missing our tour we had booked for a glacier hike and ice cave tour for Wednesday morning. We decided to try to get some sleep as soon as possible, as it was nearing midnight, and get up early to trial the roads for our 2 and a half hour trip to Hrífunes.
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
- Bilbo Baggins
We're just an adventure-loving couple with a puppy looking to share our stories with the world.