Whenever I get asked what my favorite destination worldwide would be, I frequently answer with Iceland. Being generally more of an introverted nature person, the land of snow and ice all the way in the North captured me from the moment that I first laid foot on it a few years ago.
The visit was part of a cruise to the Nordic countries which started out in Bremerhaven, Germany and led via Kirkwall in Scotland and the Faroe Islands to Iceland´s capital Reykjavik, making additional halts in Seydisfjordur, Akureyri, Isarfjordur and Grundarfjordur. With all the places that I have been to until today, this particular journey had impressed me so much with the rigid and extraordinary beauty of a country that has so many different landscape faces, that make Iceland so spectacular and unique. In any kind of weather.
To me, it is the pure and honest nature with the uncompromising climate that give Iceland its magic and mystic touch, capturing me right away. A country, that undeniably confronts you with the power and spirits of Nature. It was here, where I found the true myself and room to think.
Iceland is a journey to your inner self, to find your balance in life. Unfortunately, I haven´t made it back there yet, but it was this inner thirst and growing desire that made me choose to write about it next.
Standing on deck with the ice-cold wind blowing around my nose and watching the rough silhouettes of the snow cap mountains slowly appear out of the fog made me shiver, I remember. And not only because of the cold. It was my very first contact with the island ever and I was hooked straight away.
I think there is no more magical way to approach Iceland than by ship. It gives you the feeling as if you were exploring a new world, like being in a time-machine.
My exploration of Iceland began in Seydisfjordur, a small town on the Eastern coast of the island, nestled in-between the massive mountains at the end of the Seydisfjord.
It is one of the first settlements and scientists have found graves in the area that date back to the 8th century. Officially, it was founded by Norwegian fishermen back in 1848 who also established here the world´s first modern industrialized whaling station.
Seydisfjordur became also the first location in Iceland that was connected to the European telegraph system with the cable landfalling here back in 1906. Since then, it has been a major hub for international telecommunications.
Hard to believe when you stand in the middle of the sleepy town itself.
But before I had the time to wander a bit through the “deserted” streets of the village, time to mount the bus that would take us over the mountain pass to Egilsstaðir and Lagarfljót Lake.
The views along the road were simply astonishing. Waterfalls everywhere and from the mountain top, what a panorama.
From here, we passed ice fields that would make transit impossible during the harsh winters. Considering that it was already July, it still was quite cold and I was glad I had my winter jacket, a hat and gloves with me.
When I was a child, I remember my parents taking me many times to the mountains. But seeing this white beauty now as a grownup simply made me stare with enlightenment.
As our destination was the mighty Hengifoss waterfall, we drove past Egilsstaðir and continued along the shores of Lagarfljót Lake, which is also called Lögurinn.
It is 35 kilometers long and almost 112 meter deep. People believe that it is home to an ancient sea monster, the so-called Lagarfljót worm.
One of the main attractions here is the Hengifoss waterfall though. Foss means waterfall in Icelandic, so I suppose it is Hengi only.
In order to reach the impressive fall, we needed to climb up the hiking trail up the mountain.
What a beautiful trail. I was so impressed to see how powerful the water masses traveled down the mountain and how they must have washed their way through the stone over thousands of years.
Time became a whole new meaning to me.
And seeing beauty like this, how can anyone really be interested in fashion trends anymore?
While the climb was from time to time a bit exhausting, I took regular breaks to enjoy the panoramic views over the surrounding area.
And the closer I got, the louder I could hear the roaring of the water falling down 128 meters into the gorge.
The hiking trail from the parking lot at the bottom of the mountain is about 2,5 kilometers long and it took me roughly 45 minutes to reach its top.
Up there, the mighty fall was waiting for me. Being one of Iceland´s highest waterfalls, Hengifoss is particularly special with different layers from volcanic eruptions showing along the cascade that date to the Tertiary period, when Iceland was formed. (There will be additional photos from the mount and the waterfall at the end of the post!)
Living downtown myself and staying mostly in large cities around the globe made me feel completely free here.
I took a deep breath and felt as if the air streamed into my lungs was pure oxygen. So pure, so fresh.
A little bird came flying to the rock next to me and began singing. Just as if he wanted to say: Hey fella, who are you and where are you from? Take back a piece of my country in your heart.
True happiness is difficult to describe. But being part of this extraordinary moment gave me goosebumps. I could feel the energy that was flowing through the ground, the air and the mist that Hengifoss catapulted into the air.
Back down, it was time to head back to the ship. We rushed past the gorgeous ice fields again and I could not keep my eyes of the magic blue glow that descending from it.
Seydisfjordur seemed as deserted as it did in the morning, when the ship had docked. There is a weekly car ferry connection from here via the Faroe Islands to Denmark, but apart from that, most tourists that come here are hikers or road trippers.
I took a walk around the fjord to get some panoramic shots of the area. But apparently, I must have come close to a seagull´s breeding ground.
The birds prefer to breed close to the ground between bushes and high grass. I could not determine wherever it was the male or female attacking me, but the photo I took pretty much underlines the intent of the seagull to keep me away from her children…. He or she succeeded!
At the end of the day, I needed some time to let all these impressions rest for a while. Everything was so new to me, the things I had seen so familiar and yet so out of this world.
The ship departed in the early evening and ahead of us laid the passage around the Northeastern coastline of the island. A heavy fog bank slowly crawled over the even waters and with the Nebelhorn periodically sounding, I slumbered away. Ready for the next adventure…
Following, you will find some more photos of this excursion around Seydisfjordur. The next stop that I visited on this cruise was the port of Akureyri, centrally located at the Northern coast of Iceland and gateway to natural wonders that I will introduce to you in my next post. Until then, enjoy the pics!