Seydisfjordur, Iceland

My favorite town that we came across in Iceland was Saydisfjordur. Most towns in Iceland are super small. The population of the whole country is only 330,000ish, and Seydisfjordur’s population is around 700. We heard the town was a must see though and since we didn’t think we’d be able to access the hike we really wanted to do due to ice (can’t even remember what it was- maybe Glymur Falls- which we later found out WAS accessible), we opted for the safe bet.

We headed into Seydisfjordur from the south and came across some amazing waterfalls along the way, not far outside of the town.

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There are so many waterfalls all over the place in Iceland. You can catch a glimpse in that image directly above of how many little streams run down the sides of the mountains. I’m sure the streams were plentiful as the snowmelt in the highlands was pouring down to the coast while we were there, but it was just so different to be in a country like Iceland.

We found a random parking lot in the town and again, second guessed whether or not we could park there or not. But as we noted everywhere, you can really just park anywhere and nobody seems to mind.

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We were greeted by these kayaks. They seemed so perfect sitting there with the buildings and mountains in the background.

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Seydisfjordur was super quirky. We also walked into somebody’s house accidentally. It was on the backside of a shop and I swore it was the front door of the shop, but it was really the back door of the house. The people acted like we should have known but there were no signs.

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Laura and I walked by two guys trying to take very posed pictures in these chairs. We stopped and chatted with them (they were from Wisconsin- holla!) and took like, 50 photos for them to get the picture perfect for them. It was so funny because Laura and I always feel so bad asking people to take our picture and these guys had no shame in asking us to take a million to get the perfect shot. We didn’t mind at all though and then they offered to take some of us. We let them take two and then we were done. My, how times have changed! My old vacation photos are like, 95% selfies and tripod pictures and now they’re 95% scenery.

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This next picture I saw on Instagram plenty of times (I plan trips off of Instagram now- it’s the best for finding hidden gems). I actually had no idea it was in Seydisfjordur because Laura and I completely slacked on planning, so when we turned the corner and I saw the colorful street leading up to the church, I was completely surprised. It was so picturesque!

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We only spent a half day in Seydisfjordur and really, that was all we needed. The town is small and quaint and offered us some nice down time for a bit. We also ate at an amazing restaurant where I took one super blurry picture of my food. It was the Nordic Restaurant at Hotel Aldan. Laura and I shared the sauteed kale and spinach and both got fish (I believe I got the cod with the buerre blanc sauce) and it was excellent. Also, take note of those prices. Food in Iceland is ridiculous. I’ll discuss the cost of things in Iceland in a later post!

Other Iceland Posts:

Borgarvirki, Iceland
Fosslaug and Bruarfoss, Iceland
The Time I Went to an Eye Doctor in Iceland
Gjain, Iceland

Other Travel Posts:

Short Stop in Richmond, VA24 Hours in Philadelphia
Four Night Camping Adventure in Vermont

Gjain, Iceland

Alrighty, well, I’ve talked about some of my other favorite places in Iceland so far, but Gjain was another one that topped the list for me!

I read about Gjain long before we got to Iceland and we weren’t sure it would be doable. A few places we really wanted to go were still snowed it when we went in May and we heard it may be hard to get to Gjain, especially with out tiny little car that was definitely not a 4WD (and by 4WD, they mean like, big Jeep cars, not just any 4WD).

Since Laura and I like to be adventurous and test our limits, we decided to head out to Gjain anyway. It took us awhile to figure out where we needed to be and I wish I could provide some insight, but I have no clue anymore how we got there. I do know that there are two sides to enter Gjain from (which we didn’t realize), and I have no clue if one is better than the other, nor do I know which side we entered from anymore.

When we arrived to the “parking,” we saw one other car there and a big, long dirt road. We spent a long time contemplating if we should drive down the road or walk the couple miles there, or if we were really even allowed to park where we stopped our car. (“Allowed” is relative in Iceland- people kind of just do whatever since it’s so desolate in most places.) Eventually, we decided not to risk our car and just walk to Gjain.

The walk was long and lonely. One car passed us on the way and we secretly hoped he was going to offer us a ride because we would have been all about hitchhiking at that time. I wish I remembered how long this hike was exactly, but I want to say it was about 2 miles. That’s a short hike, but it felt pretty long in the middle of nowhere, especially because we weren’t actually even sure if we were going to the right place or not.

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After a long walk, we arrived to a “parking lot” and saw 2 or 3 cars and figured we must be close. We also took note of the other small cars that managed to drive the road just fine. We kept walking and saw this view:

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FOUND IT! It was so amazing to walk down such barren land and then come to this magical green area in the middle of nowhere. Iceland never ceased to amaze me! We had to walk down a pretty steep set of natural stairs to get down into the valley.

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It actually ended up feeling pretty warm down in the valley once we were protected from all the wind. We had a little picnic and relaxed for awhile, but only stayed about 1.5 hours since we had to walk back (uphill) and still continue exploring everything Iceland had to offer.

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The deep blue glacial water is so pretty. I loved it when we caught glimpses of the deep blues.

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In the photo below, take note of the photographer to the left of Laura. It looks like a small stream running by Laura, but it was much larger than it looks and she was actually standing at the top of a little waterfall that he was photographing.

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We were hoping to catch a ride with a photographer who was there, but after chatting for awhile, he didn’t offer us a ride and Laura and I were too shy to ask if he could take us back. He passed us halfway through our walk back. Laura and I decided it was karma for passing up a hitchhiker in northern Iceland.

Other Iceland Posts:

Borgarvirki, Iceland
Fosslaug and Bruarfoss, Iceland
The Time I Went to an Eye Doctor in Iceland

Other Travel Posts:

Short Stop in Richmond, VA
Four Night Camping Adventure in Vermont
24 Hours in Philadelphia

 

Borgarvirki, Iceland

One of the things I LOVE about Iceland is that everywhere you look, it is beautiful. I have been to a lot of awesome countries and seen amazing coastlines and countrysides and cute cities, but Iceland was something else. I could spend months getting lost in that country.

On one of our many driving days, Laura and I stumbled upon Borgarvirki. It didn’t look that impressive and I honestly almost stayed in the car for it because I was feeling all kinds of lazy, but I gathered up my energy and got out of the car.

Borgarvirki is an example of things that don’t look that cool, but end up being really awesome. This fortress is made out of basalt strata and has been used by the military for centuries, apparently. It appeared to be much smaller than it seemed once you climb up.

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The picture above is what we saw when we drove up, hence the reason I was kind of like, I could skip this.

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Once we got up into the fortress though, I realized it was HUGE! This is the front ledge from the top picture that you can see (the lower part- not the top part). It was pretty tricky to get up there, but getting down was way harder. Laura essentially had to catch me when I jumped down off that ledge. The pictures can’t even begin to depict what it was in real life.

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The ledge on the right is where I was standing in the picture above, looking in. The grassy area in the bottom left is the “interior” of the fortress.

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From atop the walls of the fortress. The walls looked pretty thin from the parking lot, but they were massive and intertwined with the landscape.

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The view on the other side of the fortress. The road pictured is the road we drove on leading into Borgarvirki.

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A gigantic cairn.

Laura and I probably spent a full hour there and could have stayed longer. That was how our whole trip was though- the land there is breathtaking and I could have spent hours in every location.

I plan to continue with shorter posts about Iceland because with how much that I have going on, it’s hard to get huge posts done and honestly, I forgot a lot of details about Iceland and have no clue what the names of most of these places are. I had a picture of the sign at Borgarvirki to remind me, but didn’t do that in most places.

 

Other Iceland Posts:

Fosslaug and Bruarfoss, Iceland

Fosslaug and Bruarfoss, Iceland

Two of my absolute favorite places in Iceland were Fosslaug (a hot pot) and Bruarfoss (a waterfall). They were definitely both less touristy and both were hard to find, but maybe that was why I liked them so much. I’ll continue with Iceland updates soon sporadically, since it takes a lot of time to find the info again of what we did!

Fosslaug

The only information that Laura and I had to go on about Fosslaug was from this website. It didn’t take very long to get there off of Hwy 1, which is the Ring Rd, or the main road that goes around Iceland. It looked like a totally straight shot, actually! We entered the GPS coordinates and turned off of Hwy 1 down 752. Once we got down 752 where the grid coordinates were, we could see the steam, but there wasn’t a real parking area and there were no cars. We were pretty confused since we saw some people walking around out by the hotpot, but there was a cattle gate that said “No Driving.” A lot of the hot pots are on private property but the land owners allow people to enjoy the natural hot springs. We weren’t sure if we could just park by the gate, but we decided to give it a go. We ended up opening the gate and walking to the steam and realizing that there was an entire river between us and the hot pot! We couldn’t see anybody at that point, but we did see the hot pot itself and clothes were by the hot pot. We decided to go back to the car and look at our maps.

We realized we could cross the river by going north again on 752 and turning down 753. At the 753 intersection, there was a paintballing sign right there too. Once you cross over the river on 753, you take an immediate right and you have to park on somebody’s private farm, but other cars were there, thankfully. We also tried to walk in with the horses but realized we were in the wrong area. Finally we actually found a sign that said Fosslaug back by the parking area. Along the walk, you see Reykjafoss which was huge and beautiful! Most waterfalls there that we found that were that big had other people there, and we were the only ones enjoying it. It was so impressive and awesome.

We finally got to the hot pot and we were the only people there! It was a little creepy sitting in a natural hot spring, but it was also really awesome. The scenery was so pretty and it was so relaxing. It may not have been the most amazing view on the whole trip, but there is something about being in a hot pot without other tourists and just taking it all in. And Reykjafoss along the way was so impressive. Laura and I were so glad we stuck it out to make it there!

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Our failure to make it to Fosslaug the first time.
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Once you park on the farm, this is where you enter the gates.
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Reykjafoss.
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Just beyond the stream here is is Reykjafoss.

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Bruarfoss

Bruarfoss was one of the other adventures that Laura and I went on! We knew we wanted to go there on our Golden Circle adventure, but it was much harder than either of us imagined it could be.

If you put in “Bruarfoss” into Google, a location of it will come up so you can easily get to the general area. I believe we took Hwy 37 to Brekkuskógur. The road had all of these private signs on it and we weren’t sure we should be there. The road was also in terrible condition and looked like it was some sort of summer camp. We decided to stick it out and keep on driving in, despite all the random people looking at us. I believe there was a sign about walking, but the road got so bad that we thought we had to be in the wrong area and we turned around.

On our map, it looked like you could access Bruarfoss from the north side by taking the road Midhusaskógur and taking a left onto an unnamed road. Turns out, it was super hard to find back there. We actually stopped the only car that we saw on that road and asked the woman if she knew about it. She was clearly a local but had no clue what we were talking about. We kept driving and we ended up driving into a convent and having to open the gates to the convent to turn around. Oops.

We went back to the summer camp area where we started and decided to just drive back into the area where it had said something about walking. The road was still bad, but we did find an area to park where it seemed like it led to a walking trail. We could hear the water once we got out of the car too, so we figured it might be close.

It was super muddy to get out there since it never stops raining, but the walk itself was short.

One other person was there taking photographs with his tripod. But the waterfall was so awesome! It was so blue from the glacial water and it was so serene because again, we weren’t surrounded by tourists. We got there around 9pm, so I’m sure it’d be busier during the day, but it was a perfect time to go. (We went in May, so 24/7 daylight.) I absolutely loved this waterfall!

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The Time I Went to an Eye Doctor in Iceland

I promise, I will get to cool trip recaps soon, but this experience has to be remembered!

One of the days that Laura and I were in Iceland, I was getting in the car and felt something get in my eye. It hurt really bad, but then it went away completely and I never saw anything when I looked in the mirror.

Two days later (the day before we left), I was doing my make up (literally one of the only days I put on makeup there) and noticed that I had something embedded in the white part of my eye. It hadn’t really bothered me too bad, but I did feel like something was in there.

Of course, over the course of the evening, the pain got much worse. My eye was swollen and painful and it had gone from nothing to really bad in just a few hours. I decided to call the eye doctor in the US to see what they recommended and they basically said if anything was embedded in my eye, they would get it looked at before getting on the plane where the pressure changes. We went back and forth for awhile like, “Should we really waste our last night for this?” Of course, Google told me I was losing my eye and how it was an emergency.

In the end, we decided just to go to an urgent care. I bought traveler’s insurance before I left (which ended up being useless) so I felt like it was no big deal.

The urgent care seemed pretty decent. Everything moved fast. An elderly guy took us back to the room, which still had a dirty paper covering the table when he asked me to climb up.

Let me preface this by saying that I hate eyes! I cannot stand eye injuries at work. It makes me so squeamish. I hate people touching my eyes! I can’t even put eyedrops in my eyes (I do wear contacts sometimes, but that’s totally different). I get super nervous anytime anybody tries to do anything with me eye.

So he had my climb onto the table and he numbed up my eye and I was already pulling away and blinking. Then he took tweezers to get it out and I was super nervous. I kept asking him for just a second so I could recollect myself but he would just keep digging in my eye. I finally got to a point where I figured if I covered my other eye and looked away, I couldn’t see his tweezers and it helped. He said he got the big chunk out but that there was still some left. Then he came at me with this sharp tool and I got super nervous. Laura was kind of making jokes to try to lighten to the mood for me and I was nervous laughing.

The doctor got kind of offended and reminded me that he’s a doctor and he knows what he’s doing and if I didn’t like it, I could leave. I was like, “I know! I’m just really nervous. Eye injuries really freak me out. But I’ll let you do it.” I was already crying, so Laura was like, “Can we just have a minute to go to the bathroom so she can calm down?” and I was like, “No! That’s okay!” because clearly, this guy didn’t have patience for that and also, that wouldn’t have helped me.

So as I’m finally about to lay down, the doctor is like, “You’re in here laughing and screaming and kicking your feet! I’m a doctor and I know what I’m doing! If you don’t like it, get out!!!” I was so shocked that he totally just yelled at me, like, legitimately yelled at me, that I just left without saying anything other than maybe “I’m not staying here to deal with this.”

I cried for like, the next hour. It was totally dramatic, but I was so upset because I was so anxious about going there because of how nervous eyes make me and then to get yelled at?! It’s not like I’m a child! I was so furious.

In the end, I chalked it up to cultural differences. My guess is that Icelandic women are probably more stoic than American women and because care there is assigned, there is no competition for doctors. They don’t get paid the same and they don’t need to earn their business. So they can be complete dicks and it doesn’t matter. In the US, we’re all about patient ratings and making the patient happy. I’m sure he thought we were making real jokes about the situation and so he was offended, but still, I was totally put off by the experience.

I don’t know that I’d ever want to seek out medical care in another country after that!

By the way, when I got home, I had to drive from Atlanta to Charleston and could barely see. My eye was so swollen and goopy and painful. The next day, I went to an eye doctor here and had to wait for an hour and a half with Jackson, but the experience was much better! They were totally understanding and calm and it took 30 seconds for them to get the rest of the object out of my eye.

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When I finally got home from flying into Atlanta and driving 5 hours to Charleston. Cute photo!