The day began as the others, dreary drizzle, so waking up with jet lag again was just about right to go around to the front of our guesthouse and order some waffles. They came covered in a local berry jam and whipped cream, and she had an espresso machine too. The dining room was surrounded by local handicrafts which were also really cool to see as all the materials like wool, wood and antler are indigenous to the culture here. So even if you don’t stay at the Guesthouse Langafit, stop by for the waffles!
Our ultimate destination today was Akureyri but we had a couple of stops along the first. Our next stop was the village of Blonduos which is known for its safe harbour for seabirds. The local government has built a public blind for watching the birds in their nesting areas and it’s just such a good idea. I wish Canada would do this. I had marked here that the Hotel Blanda had a nice menu and it did. I had something fishy, of course, but the kids were equally happy with their choices. Nearby the hotel was a shop specializing in local artisans work and many of the things made by the shop owner, Etta. Although I would have happily brought the store with me, I purchased only a large button made of reindeer antler and a book. It turns out that Blonduos is also famous for being central to the 1830 trial of local servant girl Agnes Magnusdottir, convicted, tried and executed for the murder of her master and his guest. Etta showed me a map of each of the locations in this story and the book Burial Rites by Hannah Kent which tells Agnes’s side of the story and casts doubt on her guilt. You had me at historical murder!
We surprised the kids by planning a family rafting trip with Viking Rafting just south of Varmahlio. I can’t say enough about this company and the care they had for us to make this extraordinary experience happen. I booked online through their website the gentler family trip for our nervous tweens and their aging parents (sorry Tim and Fiona, but it’s true.) We had safety lessons, dry suits that were suited up for each of us and checked individually by the staff, and a comfortable ride to the river.
The best fact of the day was that the river spray we would drink was part of the glacier just 12 hours ago. I have no idea if that is true, but the idea just enhanced the clean, fresh taste of the Iceland water even more. At one point we were encouraged to cliff jump, another time to swim behind the boat and we all enjoyed a fresh hot chocolate made from the geothermally hot stream running next to our cold river. We loved the pace of our 90 minute trip, our guides Steve (from the U.S.) and Rajib (from Nepal), who were courteous and just the right combination of humour and kindness.
Being in the middle of nowhere, we pre-booked our Dinner of the Day with the Viking Rafting people and were served a healthy portion of meatballs, rice, sauce, and veg. I don’t know how to tell you this so I’ll just say it: the main meats of Iceland are based on what they can raise here: lamb and horse. I’m sure there is a little of both in any minced meat that we had. Still, the dinner was delicous and we were able to make the final leg of our day’s journey feeling warm again.
This video was shot by on the Go Pro by our friend Ethan. I turned to our guide Rajib and asked “Can I trust you with our children?” He said, “Of course.” So all the parents jumped in for swim in the cold glacier water. Fantastic.