August 23rd, 2016

After about a week in the countryside, we were excited to get to a “city” for Friday night fun. We went up to Husevick first, an adorable whale watching town. I swore I saw a whale from the coast but I think it was actually just a boat. We picked up some hitchhikers there and helped them get a little closer to their destination. They were both from the Czech Republic and she gave me her email to send the picture we took and to look her up if/when I go there! They had been working in Iceland and were hiking and hitching before returning to work/going back home. It was so fun meeting them and I hope I see them again.

We saw another waterfall, Godafoss, and made our way to Arukeyri, the second biggest city in Iceland – 18,000 people – so, still a pretty small town. We decided to camp at the site set in town because we felt like going out and about and then and having an easy way home. We even went out for a fancy dinner – 3 courses, with wine, puffin, reindeer, really good seafood bisque, and the most excellent lamb. Our waiter was so sweet and helpful and gave us tips on going out, and said he would be going out too but he was moving to Reykjavik for school in economics the following day.

We went across the street to the concert, Agent Fresco was playing, an Icelandic band that all the locals were excited about. It was their last show in Iceland for awhile because they were going on a European tour! It was a really great show. After it ended, locals probably noticed us speaking in English, and one after another started talking to us, asking where we were from and what we were doing there, purely curious. They were all so friendly and wanted to offer any advice they could. They also invited us out to the next bar, a local spot with pianos and a large terrace for smoking. Most people would start speaking to us in Icelandic before switching to English, and most people couldn’t believe that Dave and I were just friends, so we had to start telling them we were brother and sister. We were hanging with a crowd 30’s and plus, many of them divorced, all of them getting quite drunk and being very talkative. One of the guys we met was a carpenter and showed us what he’d made for the bar entrance there. Another’s family had owned the land we had camped on the night before, and was incredulous when Dave told him he got a speeding ticket coming from there, because he had driven that route so hundreds of times without ever seeing a cop. Another told us of his hobby with his boys to go out and search through abandoned houses, because in Iceland that’s something you can do.

We went to the next bar, the usual place to end the night apparently, a dance club open till 4 about. Everyone kept asking us if we had seen the concert that night, so thank goodness we had! And we probably each could’ve made out with more than one person, they were so forward, but we had a lot of fun just dancing and conversing and being drunk with them. We wandered back towards home around 5 with the sun coming up, as well as a very clear and lovely rainbow!

We slept late the next day and decided to stay in the city another night because it felt good not to pack up immediately, nap, do laundry, and go to the swimming pool. We checked out the craft beer bar, very nice and chill, and then back at the piano bar we fell into a younger crowd that were very excited about all the travelling we had done and were expressing their desires for travel and tattoos as well. We met a puffin hunter from the small island of Grimsey who told us that he caught and sold to the restaurant we ate at the night before, so he caught the one we ate, basically! Another lady came up to us because she swore she knew us, because it’s such a small town vibe that most people know most people. We saw a guy wearing a Logan Square shirt and had to inquire about whether it was our Chicago Logan Square, and it was! He was in Iceland working on research and his sisters lived in Chicago and had given him the shirt! Small world.

We were happy to take the short walk back to our campsite and sleep before packing up and heading to the next destination. We visited a very old church, like 1100, that had some soapstone that had washed over from Greenland, and an actual service was ending where the pastors were dressed in traditional garb! We drove up to Hvammastangi to try to see some seals, but the tide was high, so we made our way up to the west fjords. It was a beautiful drive and a lot different from the east. We camped in the tiniest town and went to the local hotpot set up against the water with a magnificent view of the fjord. We chatted with the other travellers and were excited to meet some Americans, some from New York, some from DC, who all had fun things to say about their time thus far. The girl from DC was excited about going to DePaul in Chicago this fall, so that was cute, and she told us about rafting and having their guides make them hot cocoa from a hot spring they passed by!

We had a really good night camping even though it was raining. We put our chairs and table in the tent and played cards and drank tea. And we stayed dry all night despite the rain! The next day we drove down to the Snaefellsnes peninsula, we had wanted to see more of the west fjords but really did not have time to drive in and out of those inlets for ten hours with only one more day of camping left. We stopped a few times along the pensula to hike through some lava fields along the coast, visit a troll church, see a crater, and stop to do some whale watching. AND WE SAW A WHALE. We were very pleased with ourselves for seeing a whale without paying for a boat tour. But our high on life was short lived after arriving to our very busy and windy campsite because as soon as we started to set up our tent – a huge gust of wind snapped and twisted our rods – to the point of no return.

After a trying a hotel, a hostel in the next town, and another hotel in a town a little bit down the road, we found a room. It was a very large hotel and slightly creepy but we ate the last of our provisions and watched an episode of Stranger Things before falling into bed. We had planned to go horseback riding the next day! So we got up and drove through the mountains to the other side of the peninsula, through a lot of rain. We were nervous about riding through the rain but when we got to the farm, the beach was nice and sunny! We hung out with the horses for a while and then embarked on our ride, just us two and a French family of four. It was a nice small group and we were able to even go a bit fast! It was amazing riding on the beach with the waves going crazy and the waterfalls on the mountain in the background.

I chatted with our guide a bit and it was fun to hear about how she was from Germany and had just been working on that farm for four weeks and she was about to go back home and prep to go to school. She had been horseback riding since she was 5 and said she really enjoyed working with the Icelandic horses, they were really fun.

It was an epic way to end our road trip by riding Icelandic horses on the beach! They are so sweet and well trained and simply gorgeous creatures.