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  1. There wasn't a breakfast buffet at the place we were staying at last night (it was more of a guesthouse than a hotel), but there was a shared kitchen with things like coffee and cereal which people could help themselves to. We had been to the main supermarket in the town last night and bought some pastries of our own as well. It looked like it was going to be another dry day, so we were soon off on our way to make the most of it. Today was going to be one of our heavier days of driving, with nearly 200 miles to cover before we got to our base for the night. Our first stop was the Stokksnes headland, which is only about 10km outside of Höfn. A small road leads down off the Ring Road, onto private land. We had to pay 800 ISK each (about £5.50) to get a ticket and be able to park. It seemed worth it, because we knew it was a really scenic location. This big black mountain in the background is the Vestrahorn. It's only 454 metres high, but it looks a lot bigger and it really dominates the landscape here. The location has been used for filming, and what we were walking towards was a film set of a Viking village. It was quite a surreal place to wander around. Definitely an amazing location though. From outside the village we could see back to yesterday's glaciers The ticket we'd bought allowed us to drive right to the end of the headland, from where we had a great view out to sea... ...as well as more great views back towards the mountains. The other remarkable thing about Stokksnes is that it is home to sand dunes made from black sand. Lots of them were just tiny little bumps like this... ...with jet black sand. There was just time for a final look at the Vestrahorn... ...and then we were on our way again, about to lose our view of the glaciers as we went through a tunnel in the mountains and emerged into Iceland's eastern region. Eastern Iceland is the remotest and least populated part of the country. Settlements are few and far between here, so we'd made sure to get a full tank of petrol yesterday. There aren't any absolute "must-see" sights in this region, but we had a day of stunning views ahead of us. We pulled over to take photos whenever we could find suitable parking places. This was at the Hvalnes nature reserve, where there is a huge lake inhabited by swans. They were staying well away from the tourists though, so we didn't get any photos! The eastern coastline of Iceland is home to a series of fjords, and we were about to start driving up and down them. It was getting a bit cloudier, but the views were still great. As we approached the village of Breiðdalsvík, we drove across a long bridge over the water. The guidebook had said there was a turn-off at some point after here towards a waterfall, but we didn't manage to find it. Instead we left the Ring Road behind for a while and began to follow a smaller road around the coast. We found someone to take our photo again Then we were back in the car and on our way once more. We had this road virtually to ourselves. As we travelled further along, we could see a small island out to sea. Tim had to concentrate on the driving though, because the road soon turned from a normal tarmac road into a gravel one. Gravel roads are quite common in Iceland (even the Ring Road is gravel in parts) and pretty much the only bit of Icelandic I know is the "Malbik endar" road sign which announces that the paved road is coming to an end. The gravel road was replaced by a normal one again as we began to head inland. We were soon following a pretty steep road into the mountains. We stopped at a parking place with a good view There was a series of tiny little waterfalls coming down the mountain here. Once we got over the top of the mountain, the landscape changed completely and became a lot softer. There were some beautiful autumn colours on the hillsides. We were now quite close to Egilsstaðir which is the main town in these parts. The Ring Road continues through it, but we needed to turn off onto route 93, a smaller road which leads over the mountains and down to the small town of Seyðisfjörður. The road was pretty steep, but when we got to the top of the pass there were some spectacular views back down. Eventually we began to descend and got our first glimpse of Seyðisfjörður. The name Seyðisfjörður might not ring any bells, but this is the town where the Icelandic TV series 'Trapped' was set. Part of the series was filmed here, with the rest being filmed in the village of Siglufjörður in northern Iceland. Seyðisfjörður is the town where the Norröna ferry featured in the series arrives from Denmark and the Faroe Islands once a week. It sails from Seyðisfjörður on Thursday mornings, so accommodation in the town is normally completely booked out on Wednesday nights. Luckily we were visiting on a Thursday evening, so hadn't had any problems finding a room for the night. And after approaching the town on this road, we can definitely see how it would be possible to get trapped here in the snow! We made one final stop at a parking place above the town... ...because we'd caught sight of this beautiful waterfall from the road. This is Gufufoss, and I guess as Icelandic waterfalls go it isn't anything special (no mention in the guidebook!), but I was still pretty impressed We arrived in Seyðisfjörður and found our accommodation (the building in the picture, with the "studio guesthouse" sign). It's a small studio apartment, with two large beds, a kitchenette and dining table, so we were able to cook our own food tonight. I paid £105 for the night, so this is one of our better-value stays. The town itself is really pretty, with colourful wooden houses. It's surrounded by mountains on all sides. I got excited when we spotted the ferry terminal at the edge of the town More scenic though was the town's beautiful little blue church It's a lovely place to stop for the night, after what has been yet another really scenic day in Iceland
  2. Clare

    Day 5: Hof to Höfn

    The world looked very different when we woke up this morning: it wasn't raining It had been so wet and cloudy when we arrived last night that we didn't really have any sense of our surroundings in Hof. It turns out there's a huge mountain behind the hotel! Our room was in this little outbuilding, so we had a short walk to breakfast. The breakfast buffet wasn't quite as extensive today as it had been yesterday (no pancake machine!) but it had all the usual things, so we were able to fill up before checking out and hitting the road. We actually needed to double back on ourselves and retrace 20 miles or so of the route we had driven yesterday in order to reach our first destination. It didn't matter at all, because the weather was so much better today that it felt like a completely different journey anyway. Partway along we just had to stop by the side of the road when we caught sight of snow-capped mountains in the distance. We hadn't been able to see any of this scenery when we were driving yesterday! We started driving again, but soon had to pull over for a second time when we caught a view of an enormous glacier. The views here were really stunning Before long we arrived at our destination: the Skaftafell national park. We had to pay around £5 for parking here, but I got the feeling it was going to be good value. The guidebook had suggested that there were some easy, sign-posted walks here, so we put our boots on and set off. We were following a trail of around 2km towards a waterfall called Svartifoss. Although 2km doesn't sound like a lot, it was actually quite hard going because it started going uphill almost straightaway and continued going uphill for most of that distance. We had some incredible views of the snow as we climbed, though. We also had a good view out across the flat glacial plain that we'd been driving across on the Ring Road yesterday afternoon. After a while we got our first glimpse of a waterfall, though not the one we were looking for. That was Svartifoss, which we eventually got a glimpse of in the distance. A bit more uphill before we got there! Finally we got to a beautiful viewpoint where we could see the waterfall - yay! The name 'Svartifoss' means 'black falls'. It gets its name from the dark lava columns which surround it. We were able to climb down to a viewing platform right beside the water. The spray from the waterfall was beautiful; you could see all the colours of the rainbow reflected in it Once we'd finished admiring the waterfall, we enjoyed a much easier walk back downhill towards the carpark. The guidebook had also mentioned that there was an easy 3.7km round-trip walk to the foot of the Skaftafellsjökull glacier. We could see the glacier in the distance, so off we went. This was a much easier walk on a beautifully flat path, so it wasn't long before we were getting really close. It felt amazing to just be able to stroll up to a glacier like this! In front of the glacier was a big gravelly beach, which we were able to walk down onto. The beach led down to a lake... ...and there were little mini-icebergs floating in the water The whole panorama was wonderful. We admired the ice for a while... ...then went for a closer-up look at the glacier, before setting off back to the car park. Our second stop of the day is a place called Fjallsárlón. This is a small glacial lake, where the Fjallsjökull glacier reaches down to the water. As we walked up to the lake from the car park, Tim took some photos for some American girls. They took some of us in return Then we walked down to the lake. There were some amazing icebergs floating in the water. The ice breaks off the glacier before floating in the lake and ultimately flowing into a river and out to sea. Some little blocks of ice had washed ashore as well Just another 10km along the ring road is the bigger glacial lagoon of Jökulsárlón. This is where the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier meets the sea. It covers an area of 18 square kilometres and the ice floats in here for up to five years before it finally flows out to sea. We were able to follow a trail along the side of the lagoon for a while. There were some beautiful views of the glacier... ...and the further we walked, the more floating ice we could see. I particularly liked this iceberg, which was a wonderful shade of blue Jökulsárlón was an amazing end to what has been a truly amazing day! All that remained was for us to drive a further 50 miles or so to the town of Höfn, where we are staying overnight in a small guesthouse. Our room here cost £130 for the night and is much more spacious than I had expected Höfn is a small town, but it's in a really pretty location. When we went out for a walk to get some food in the evening, we realised that we could see glaciers stretching all the way down to the sea! A brilliant end to the day
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