The Galleri B&B in Laugarvatn, Iceland has three small yet comfortable rooms with one large shared bathroom. While there is nothing special about this quiet B&B at the edge of town, it offers a homey place to enjoy the area, halfway between Pingviller lake and the Gullfoss waterfall. Best of all, it is within walking distance of Linden restaurant.
Breakfast in the Galleri’s bright sunroom.
Moving on from Laugarvatn we head to the southwestern coast with a detour up the Þjórsárdalur valley. Take 37 south, turn left on 35 – heading northeast, turn right on 31 – heading southeast, then a quick jog to the left on 30 to hit 32. Sounds complicated but is very easy to follow on the Google map.
The first part of the drive is through green open farm land, big skies and the occasional volcanic rock formation add a little interest.
At 32 the Þjórsárdalur valley starts, following the river through a wide green valley with Hekla volcano in the distance. A couple of farms grace this otherwise lonely valley.
At the end of the valley the green turns to volcanic gravel creating a layered landscape of browns and grays.
A hydro plant captures the river’s power and transmits it out along massive power lines through the desolate landscape.
At the crossroads with route 26 the now dirt track runs along the ash fields of the Hekla volcano. To the right the Þjórsá river.
Although 26 will take you back to the Ring Road (1), we take 268 (really just as good as 26) which winds through the volcanic landscape with the occasional green pastures alongside a farm.
We next run across a housing development looking mostly forgotten in the grasslands with views of the mountains above. The sign at the entrance has a map showing all of the lots as “seld” (sold), but fewer than 10% of them have houses and there is no visible building activity. Clearly a product of the economic bubble and subsequent spectacular crash that saw the failure and nationalization of all three of Iceland’s banks.
Soon we hit pavement again and the landscape quickly becomes green, with grazing land dotted with our favorite puffy Icelandic sheep. For some reason these particular sheep prefer the black asphalt to the lush green grass.
Back on 1 we stop for lunch at Kanslarinn Restaurant in Hella, fish and chips and a small pizza with mushrooms but cheese only on half. The waiter thinks this request is a bit odd but is accommodating. The food arrives fresh hot and made-to-order from good quality ingredients.
Country Hotel Anna
The Country Hotel Anna is nestled in a wide bowl snuggled against the foothills that lead up to the Eyjafjallajokull glacier. The plains in front lead out to the ocean.
Although we arrive around 4PM it’s a gorgeous afternoon, warmer than it has been, and I head up into the hills towards the glacier. Although the hotel has a large scale map of the surrounding area with marked trails sitting next to the front door, they have no maps available for guests. Trails, however, are blazed according to the color coded system shown on the large map. Following a wide jeep track blazed blue and purple I wander up through the green hills and am soon startled by a little dog that rushes past.
My self-appointed guide then leads me up the trail, usually staying way ahead of me, stopping once in a while to check on me or to look after the occasional sheep.
In about an hour I make it up to a view point of the glacier shrouded in clouds.
As it is getting late I turn back before I can get very close. With my companion still ahead of me we descend back down the same track.
Just above the hotel Icelandic horses are grazing in the field. Known to be curious and friendly they rush forward to greet us as we enter the gate.
August 27, 2012
For links to all the posts in this series see the Iceland page.