This is the tenth story in our series on the Magic of Iceland.
NORA AND I had high hopes for a long, scenic Sunday drive through the mountains of the east fjords on the way to Hotel Smyrlabjorg, our destination in southeast Iceland near the town of Hofn.
The 270-mile trek meant we had to make a few stops along the way. Since we didn’t have time to spend a night in the east fjords, we had a perfect reason to go to one of the coastal villages for an extended break, perhaps for lunch and a tour.
The rest of the trip was expected to include stunning mountain vistas, waterfalls and the long shot possibility of walking up to the foot of a glacier upon arriving in the southeast.
Then reality and Mother Nature intervened.
If our grand plan had been a baseball game, it would have been postponed. The day became a long slog right at the beginning. Misty, rainy conditions. Long stretches of heavy fog. Poor visibility.
It didn’t prevent us from stopping a few times to soak in the dampened scenery, but the cautious mountain driving made for a slow go. As we reached another fork in the Ring Road, I welcomed the opportunity for a respite to find some humor in the Yogi Berra-type decision we had to make.
Should we stay on the Ring Road — which was paved — and take the longer coastal route toward the village of Breiddalsvik? Or should we peel off onto Route 939, a shorter, muddy dirt mountain road which could present us with unknown hazards? Even with four-wheel drive, it was worth considering that most dirt mountain roads in Iceland are closed throughout the winter for safety reasons. Taking 939 would eventually hook us back up to the Ring Road further south, so Nora and I had that to consider too.
We had taken chances throughout our Icelandic journey, now in Day 7, and I was reluctant to play it safe. The Yogi-ism said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
My decision? “939, you’re mine!”
I felt confident we would be in good stead driving in our Ford Escape, and we were. The rain picked up in intensity along the 12-mile long route, but the road conditions didn’t worsen. Although the low-lying clouds undoubtedly prevented us from enjoying a more scenic drive, the conditions provided some unique settings.
In the heavy rain, we pulled into a parking area just off the road. Being fully equipped in head-to-toe waterproof rain gear allowed us to wander around without discomfort. A picnic table overlooking a small waterfall emptying into a mountain stream gave us the perfect location to take what became one of my favorite photographs from our journey!
The trip from Lake Myvatn to Hotel Smyrlabjorg ended up providing some very memorable moments. Being equipped with the proper rain gear is an absolute must if you are going to spend any significant time in Iceland. Rain is part of the game! Having the gear enabled us to go about our business unabated.
We arrived at Smyrlabjorg with just enough time to catch their dinner buffet, which we discovered is famous throughout Iceland. What other country hotel buses in people just for dinner? For the record, it was outstanding! Nora and I both recommend it as a bucket list item for anyone who visits Iceland or travels to the southeast region.
We decided against a night time visit to one of the numerous glaciers in the region, but it was only temporary. Monday was going to be Day 8 of our journey, and exploring glaciers was high on our agenda. Rain or shine.
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