This is the seventh story in our series on the Magic of Iceland.
A FRIDAY NIGHT DATE in Reykjahlid is a little different from one in New York City, and Nora and I were ready to embrace it.
No taxis, movie theaters, tall buildings or Broadway plays? No problem. There were plenty of pseudocraters and lava rock formations! And the crowds? Not an issue. Reykjahlid has an estimated 300 residents compared to Manhattan’s 1.65 million.
Finally, there were the midges, a nonentity in New York. Myvatn translates in English as midge lake, and the pesky insect can make its annoying presence felt at any time.
The dinner part can be similar though and ours didn’t disappoint. We went to Vogafjos Restaurant, a popular spot located on a farm, and their lamb stew was the best i’d ever tasted. Throughout Iceland great food is common because of its purity and freshness. The same can be said for the air and drinking water. More on that later.
Our plan to climb Hverfell crater after dinner was the most striking difference from a New York City date and looking at some facts and figures made me smile. How tall is Hverfell? 1,380 feet?! By comparison, the Empire State building’s height is a mere 1,240 feet. How would walking up to the top of a building go over on a date back in New York, I thought to myself?
We arrived at Hverfell to find the parking area nearly empty. We had an amazing Iceland landmark all to ourselves! Our hike up the side of Hverfell wasn’t as difficult as we thought it might be but it wasn’t easy either. Nora lagged behind most of the way. There were a number of spots where it looked like I had reached the top, only to realize it was a mirage.
But when we got to the top, boy was it worth it.
The expansive panoramic views were breathtaking and Hverfell’s terrain was otherworldly. Was it surprising to learn NASA sent Apollo astronauts to Hverfell in the 1960s to train for lunar missions? Not in the least. Hverfell is an explosion crater, believed to have been formed approximately 2,700 years ago when lava poured into what is now Lake Myvatn, triggering a steam explosion at Hverfell’s core. With the crater’s diameter approximated at one kilometer, it was mind boggling to comprehend the power of the explosion.
The hike around the Hverfell’s rim had multiple elevation changes and took about an hour to complete. It was challenging and enjoyable. The peacefulness was inescapable. A notable constant was the wind, strong enough at times to knock you off balance.
Gazing southward you could see the lava field formations at Dimmuborgir and beyond. Lake Myvatn was to the north and west, as was Hotel Reynihlid, our home base for the weekend.
Nora and I were happy to complete our hike around the crater when we did, as storm clouds were brewing in the east. At almost the same time, the sun broke through the cloud cover that had been hovering above the entire region.
Nora and I were getting ready to begin our descent when we were treated to one of the signature moments of our Icelandic odyssey. It was almost 11:30 PM. As the midnight sun’s rays and warmth cut across Hverfell, a spectacular rainbow appeared in the sky where the storm clouds were. We felt fortunate to soak in the amazing scenery even as we had no one else to share it with.
Day 5 in Iceland was complete. We had no idea what the “Land of Fire and Ice” had in mind for us over the weekend, but we couldn’t wait to find out.
Check out the entire Magic of Iceland series right here (Click on each link):
Part 1-Overview, Part 2-The Golden Circle, Part 3-Latrabjarg, Part 4-Midnight Sun Drive, Part 5-Westfjords and Isafjordur, Part 6-Fire and the Mountains, Part 7-Date Night at Hverfell, Part 8-Surreal Saturday, Part 9-Beyond Fire and Ice, Part 10–Taking the 939, Part 11-Lost in Skaftafell, Part 12-F208 Dilemma, Part 13-Volcanic Highlands, Part 14-Homestretch to Remember