Trip to Iceland day 2 / 2022-04-25

2022-04-25 Trip to Iceland day 2
We woke up in our nice hotel and my wife took the car to get things for breakfast. This sounds completely strange for someone living in the Netherlands but Iceland has a bit of urban sprawl so bigger supermarkets are located on the outskirts of cities and the distance between our hotel and a reasonable supermarket was a bit too far for walking. The hotel had no own breakfast options, but they did have a room with a toaster, an electric kettle, plates, cutlery so enough place to make our own breakfast.

There was a bit of shelf space with a sign 'leave something, take something' which reminded me a lot of a hiker box as described in the stories I have read about hiking on long-distance trails like the Appalachian Trail. This hiker box had one thing I was interested in: instant coffee. I like some coffee after breakfast in the morning and this was my option to get something resembling coffee.

After breakfast we packed our bags and left. We re-packed a few things because we went from 'packing for in an airplane' to 'packing for day-trips' so the pocket knife could be somewhere ready for use and the hiking poles were unpacked and put in an easy to reach place in the car.

Our main plan for the day was to visit the Fagradalsfjall volcano. This volcano erupted during 2021 and this was one of our main reasons for visiting Iceland again.

We wanted to visit this volcano either in the first few days or in the last few days of our stay in Iceland. The weather forecast for this day was really nice so we planned it this way. And the weather was indeed nice and sunny.

Fagradalsfjall volcano - KvdHout on Flickr
Fagradalsfjall volcano
This is a very visitor-friendly volcano: it is about an hour driving from the Reykjavik / Keflavik area, it has nearby car parking and after that it is a relatively short walk to get to an area with volcanic activity. We saw no hot lava streams but a very large area covered with lava cooling down. Smoke plumes and some burning vegetation showed that the lava was still warm and hot in some places. We hiked the main path along the lava flow which went mostly up and gave great views of the lava field. Eventually we reached a point with a good overview of the place where the eruption happened. Somewhat further there was also a place where we could get to the edge of the lava and touch it. The solidified lava still felt warmer than the surrounding area.

Fresh lava has interesting qualities. It has very sharp edges and with the lava exposed to the air solidifying first there are usually tunnels inside fresh lava, leading to collapses. Two good reasons not to walk on the lava, it can be dangerous.

Lava at the edge of the eruption of Fagradalsfjall volcano - KvdHout on Flickr
Lava at the edge of the eruption of Fagradalsfjall volcano
The car park had paid parking. But in a very icelandic way: there were signs with a QR code for a parking website where you just entered your license plate details and the type of car and paid online with a creditcard. This is not a problem at all because mobile coverage including data in Iceland is very good and they are used to paying almost everything with debitcard or creditcard.

While walking the path along the volcano I noticed I recognized certain views from the videos we watched while following the news about the eruption. It's funny to recognize a remote area from videos watched at home on the couch. The views were amazing, especially with the nice weather and I came to the conclusion that this kind of spectacular view of pure nature and geology was exactly why I came to Iceland.

Hveradalir Geothermal Area - KvdHout on Flickr
Hveradalir Geothermal Area
After the visit to the volcano we drove in the direction of our hotel for the evening. We made a stop at Hveradalir Geothermal Area which is an area where the geothermal activity is easy to visit. This includes the smell that comes from hot sulfur exposed to water and air. This is the same as the smell from rotten eggs so you have to endure this to get a good view of this special area.

The hotel was Hotel Eldhestar. The drive was partly along the Iceland ring road (road number 1) which was in the process of being upgraded to 4 lanes with a median in some areas. This was quite a change from what we remembered from driving on the ring road in 2006. At the hotel we also had dinner. One feature we liked about this hotel is the hottub: we soaked in it for a while after dinner.

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