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July 20, 2013 / Jim Fenton

Iceland Day 6: The East Coast

July 6, 2013

Typical East Iceland farm - with waterfall, of course

Typical East Iceland farm – with waterfall, of course

Today was a driving day, the first since leaving Reykjavík that we didn’t have a planned activity. Following a good buffet-style breakfast at our hotel, we traveled north on the Ring Road.  We stopped briefly in the coast city of Höfn, then continued to Djúpivogur for a quick lunch. We had heard of a cafe with good cakes and coffee there, but instead found a casual restaurant with good fish and chips and sandwiches. We did find the cafe after lunch, but a tour bus was parked outside and the place was jammed.

Throughout East Iceland, we have been impressed with the relentless strong wind. It was very evident at our hotel this morning, and made driving a bit more challenging today. Do the locals get this all the time? One of the staff at our hotel this morning said it has blown so hard that the concrete came off the roads. Was she serious?

After lunch we encountered our first official fjord. The road is narrow and has a precipitous drop-off, so it requires careful driving (but still not as difficult as the Sonoma Coast in California). We also drove on a short section of the Ring Road that is still unpaved.  Eventually we turned more inland, through a long tunnel toward Egilsstaðir, the commerce hub for the local area.

We had a quick snack before continuing to our accommodation for tonight, the Hotel Hallormsstaður. The hotel is located on the eastern shore of Lake Lagarfljót, a long narrow lake that is said to contain the Lagarfljótsormur, also known as the Iceland Worm Monster, roughly the Icelandic equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster. In any case, we didn’t see the creature.

Icelandic horses outside our cabin

Icelandic horses outside our cabin

The hotel is located in the largest forest in Iceland, a notable place because Iceland has relatively few trees.  Our room is a small cabin set apart from the hotel, very cute but a little small for the three of us. Right in front is a horse rental operation with absolutely majestic Icelandic horses. I’m not particularly an admirer of horses, but these are something very special (as are most of the Icelandic horses I have seen).

We returned to Egilsstaðir for dinner at the Cafe Nielsen, since we were getting tired of hotel dinner buffets. All three of us had excellent dishes, and shared a bowl of their lobster bisque that came highly recommended in reviews we read. While the bisque was very good, I’m not sure it quite lived up to the reviews.

As I’m typing this, it is still very windy outside, and that can be heard here in the cabin. We hope this doesn’t keep us awake.

This article is part of a series about our recent vacation in Iceland. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

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