Iceland Part 4: The Journey's End
After what felt like an eternity of unchanging landscape we finally rounded a corner and could see steam rising in the distance, and hundreds of tiny people wandering over a brightly coloured clay area. Soon we reached the pull-off and parked up our bikes for a good look at some bubbling mud and strange steaming knoll things.
The bubbling mud was good, but not quite up to Taupo standard in my opinion. We climbed back on our bikes and rode over the last small hill into Mývatn, headed straight for the supermarket. The supermarket seemed amazing and we bought all sorts of things we had been craving - yogurt, nectarines, a sweet sticky bun, a bottle of coke and some crisps!
Skubba, a local at Mývatn
Next plan was to find a campground and miraculously there one appeared right across the road on the lake shore. With our camping pass we got cheaper rates on the local version of the Blue Lagoon hot springs - the Jarðböðin Nature Baths.
We pitched our tent on the nice rolly green lawn, cooked up a feast and then cycled up the road to Jarðböðin for a swim. That was a great end to the day and we soaked in the warm water until midnight, then cycled back in the dark - we could notice the night's getting much darker now than when we arrived.
The rolly lawn at Mývatn
Enjoying the Jarðböðin Nature Baths
Enjoying the Jarðböðin Nature Baths
We planned to spend our last real day in Iceland (the following day we would be on the Express Bus back to Reykjavik) doing a bit of hot spring exploration. We knew there were supposed to be a couple of very good ones in the area - one which is in an underground cavern. After a bit of inquiry we set off on foot, it was wonderful to be off the saddles for a bit!
After about an hour we found the first one, it's called Grjótagjá and it's a very hot pool in an opening in the lava flow. There are some precariously hanging boulders on the roof which put people off a bit, but we weren't too concerned.
The entrance to Grjótagjá
For me however the pool was far too hot (Chris estimated about 45 degrees!) so I couldn't go in. Chris did and came out looking a bit like a red lobster - but we did manage to get some nice photos of him in the pool.
Chris in the amazing Grjótagjá pool
We talked to a friendly group of Icelanders out for a run (I think they were impressed that Chris actually went in that cauldron) and they told us of some other nice pools not so far away. So we walked back to find the pools called Storagja. Here you have to climb down a ladder into a canyon and in amongst the strewn boulders we found a small rope which you could use to lower yourself into a pool.
Storagja was beautiful, but the pool itself wasn't quite warm enough - now we felt a bit like Goldilocks. We headed back to the campground for lunch, then readied ourselves for our final ride to Akureyri.
It was 100km to Akureyri but mostly on seal, so we hoped we could do it pretty quickly. As we left Mývatn we talked to a fellow on a bamboo bike who was incredulous we would attempt 100km at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Fortunately we had a strong tail wind, and our average speed for the first 60 km was 32 km per hour.
On the long cycle to Akureyri
We arrived at the Goðafoss falls as the afternoon sun was just setting. The falls were very spectacular, a curtain of white water cascading down amongst green mossy pillars. We sat eating and enjoying the falls for a bit before continuing on our ride. The area seemed very green after the past days, but there were still no trees.
Greener lands than the previous days
Goðafoss (Chris is the little blue figure)
After 80km we turned off the main road and climbed up 600m on a shingle road which lead to a radio tower. From there we could drop down into the valley in which the town of Akureyri sits.
The view from the saddle down to the fjord of Akureyri
We could hear throbbing rock music coming from the town - apparently there was a big rock concert going on and the town would be very loud all night. So after a bit of time spent hunting around we found a spot in the bushes to pitch our tent and spend the night. We could look across the fjord to town and enjoy the music as we cooked dinner.
The ride only took 4.5 hours, so we laughed a bit about bamboo bike man who thought it must take at least 7. We slept very well after our busy day and it seemed like no time before our alarms went off. We had to hop up, depitch and head into Akureyri to catch the bus at 8 am. It all worked out nicely and we were soon sitting on the comfy bus which would take us all the way back to Reykjavik with a few stops along the way.
Our bus, with our bikes strapped to the front
The bus would drive through the inland route F35 called Kjölur which we would have liked to cycle if we had had more time. Still, it was nice to see the route anyway, and we had already sussed out that it would stop at the Hvervellir hot spring for 45 minutes - enough time for a soak!
We leaped off the bus when it stopped and undressed along with a couple of other keen bean travelers and enjoyed the prefect temperature of the pool. It was deliciously hot and we could take in the wide landscape with the humongous glaciers in the distance.
Mmmm, the perfect temperature at last!
We had a few more stops along the way including an extremely crowded Gullfoss - I don't think I have ever seen so many tourists at one waterfall and of course the famous Geysir. Geysir itself doesn't actually erupt any more, but another geysir called Strokkur proved to be much more spectacular than we imagined and we got some good video footage of it along with the hundreds of other tourists.
Chris enjoys Gullfoss (yogurt snack in hand)
The Emerald Pool - I had been looking forward to seeing this one
We reflected that it had been nice to see some of the main tourist attractions of Iceland, but our adventure on the bikes exploring and discovering under our own steam had been so much more rewarding.
Finally we arrived in Reykjavik at 8pm after 12 hours on the bus. We had time for a quick wander through the capital and time to buy a delicious take away pizza to eat in the park, before getting on another bus to Kelfavik camping area. There we picked up the gear we had left behind and cycled down to the airport.
The main pedestrian street in Reykjavik
Chris cycles along the cycle path in ReykjavikWe did a quick bike pack outside the main entrance to the airport with a little audience laughing at all our smelly gears strewn every where and then packed away again into two bike bags. At midnight we flew out of Iceland bound for Germany. It had been an amazing two weeks we will never forget and I can't believe it took me four blog posts to get it all down! Hope you enjoyed it too (-:
Mmmm, a yummy pizza in a park before we fly away!