The Empty East

Sleeping in can be difficult to do in a country with very little dark, but we managed to sleep a few extra hours, probably because we were exhausted. We managed to grab a little of the breakfast was leftover at the guest house, then were back on the road. Hofn had a decent supermarket where we grabbed more lunch/snack food, liquor/wine, and an auxiliary cord for our rental car because the country’s radio station apparently lost strength out east.

We headed out toward Seydesfjordor in the eastern part of the country. Finally, we felt like we were off of the tourist carosel and in an area much less travelled. Gone were the mega tour busses and the tiny rental cars were significantly fewer and farther between. Rather than sticking to route 1, the Ring Road and main road around Iceland, we opted for a more winding, scenic road through the fjords. There was no shortage of places to stop for photographs, flocks for birds, or wind. We ate lunch in our car over a scenic overlook at a fjord, in an effort to avoid the gusts of wind outside.

View along the coast

At some point, we had to cut in to the main road in Egilstaddir, which was a more industrial town off of the fjords. From there, we went out to Seydisfjordor on a road reminiscent of the Beartooth pass in Montana. We followed the highway up into the snow-capped mountains and looked down on a major river and small town from the top. When we found a scenic look into Seydisfjordor with a river and waterfall right by the road, we stopped to explore, enjoy, and have a glass of wine (it is our honeymoon!).

Great spot for a wine break
Improv wine glasses

Once we made it down the mountain to the fjord town of Seydisfjordor, it was quite simple to find our hotel. The population of the town is a mere 700 (big for the east) and we were staying in a branch of the only hotel in town; the road led directly to the main hotel, Hotel Aldan. We checked in there, then went to settle in at Hotel Snaefell, an old wooden building which has been used as the post office, shoe repair shop, and various other odd jobs through the years. The rooms were small, but had a bathroom en suite which had become a treat by that point. Sadly, however, it had the thinnest curtains of any hotel or guesthouse we had stayed in yet, and when there are only a few hours of darkness per day, curtains become a necessity for a good night’s sleep.

Hotel Snaefell

The room also had a small television and internet, so we checked in on life in the States and the Olympics while we freshened up for dinner, and had a drink. For dinner, we headed to one of my favorite local cafes of the trip, Skaftell Cultural Center. Here, Icelandic hipster-types poured beer and sat you at family-style table with other travelers and locals. We shared a seafood pizza for dinner and a few drinks before heading back to relax for an early evening.

Church across the lagoon

Paul had scheduled us for an 8:00 am sea-kayaking trip around the fjord. Lonely-Planet described the guide as “Robert Redford-esque” and I can think of now better description, except that he is an obviously Icelandic version. We paddled for 2 hours and stopped to drink water from a clear mountain stream. The fjord was quiet and peaceful and I would have loved to have been there for sunrise, but there was not a chance I was waking up at 4:00 am. This is one of of my favorite stops of the trip. I was in love with the small town and the kayak trip was reasonably priced and Paul and I mostly got to hang out together without being on an overly guided tour.

Kayaking

After kayaking, we went back for breakfast at Hotel Aldan, probably our favorite breakfast buffet of the trip, complete with fresh fruit and waffles. Then, it was just a few minutes to change clothes, see the town (including an Icelandic boy version of a young Paul singing loudly while swimming in the lagoon), and wander through a few of the more artsy gift shops we’ve seen before jumping back in the car to head toward Husavik.

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