Húsavík

We arrived in Húsavík and, oh, lovely Iceland. This place was gorgeous.

Húsavík1
Húsavík2

Húsavík is a very northern town, located on the Skjálfandi bay, just a short distance from the Arctic Circle. It was surprisingly warm to us, considering our expectations.

Our arrival was timed just an hour or so before we were to take a whale watching tour out into the bay. We checked in with our guides and explored a bit while we waited for launch time. Just below the whale watching guide’s shop, there was a little pub, where we had a beer and looked out over the water.

The whale watching was a stirring experience. You’ll notice no photos in the above slideshow. I don’t recall if we bothered to bring the camera, but we certainly didn’t use it. We were awed by the sights of the water around us, the birdlife diving into the cold depths for their meal, and, of course, the blowing, swimming, and breaching whales. We caught a surprising number of whale sights on the trip, especially considering the guides can never guarantee any encounters and had recently returned from a trip with disappointed clients. We had a fantastic time thrilling at the bumpy sea, taking in the sights, and judging the other whale guide company that went too close to the whales. The trip did eventually run a little long. Though we were well outfitted with warm gear against the cold ocean air, three hours is time enough for the chills to work their way in and, by that point, we had seen plenty of great sights and were ready for a meal.

Also, I’ve never had a problem with sea-sickness, but the trip did become briefly uncomfortable. I’ll spare you the details, but I will say that, before taking a similar trip, you should avoid my choice of having a beer. We all know what happens if you shake up a beer can before opening.

We returned from our trip late enough to check into our next AirBnB, within walking distance of town. We dropped our bags and made for town and dinner.

By this point of the trip, we’d begun to notice that much of the restaurants were staffed not only by Icelanders, but by folks from a variety of European countries. Conversations with them confirmed our guess that the country had begun to bring in help from Europe due to the growing (and overwhelming) tourist population in the summers. We also discovered, while hunting for a post-dinner drink, that most of the Húsavík establishments were still closed or on limited hours, as May is still pre-tourist season and most folks just don’t go to the north like we did.

We started the next day at a nearby bakery for coffee and pastries, where I stumbled through my Icelandic and was taught a few new phrases by the kind lady at the counter. Then we drove south to take in a few sights (and eat our first Icelandic hot dogs).

Our first stop was Goðafoss, an awesome little waterfall stop. We spent some time enjoying the view and hiking around before we grabbed those hot dogs for lunch. I don’t normally like hot dogs, but the Icelandic version is apparently a “must try”. Try it I did and, though I did have a few more later in the trip, I think I can say I’ve checked that off my to do list for life.

Next stop, Dimmuborgir, a large lava field area near the lake Mývatn. It is surreal, the land shaped by flowing rock, eventually stopped and grown over with moss and whatever else can thrive.

I had aimed for a casual hike through one of the lava field areas, but Kristin spied a nearby bastard trail she was excited to try, so I found it on the map and we set off for adventure.

We finished the day by heading back to Húsavík for dinner and the always amazing Icelandic coffee.