Along with the fishermen villages scattered throughout Iceland, East Iceland was my absolute favorite region!! The scenery here was just out of this world. It was here that I realized I had no words strong enough to describe the stunning beauty of this country.
Aside from our roadside views and coastal towns, here are some spots we took extra time to explore:
STOKKSNES A cape that got its name from an underwater tunnel (stokk) in the rocks by the lighthouse here. In the ’50’s, the U.S. Army built a radar station at Stokksnes and operated there until 1988 when Iceland overtook the station and operated it until 1992. The area is best viewed with the Vestrahorn mountain as a back drop surrounded by grassy sand drifts. Vestrahorn is one of Iceland’s few Gabbro rock mountains dating back 8-11 million years!
Stokksnes is private property and costs a small fee to get into (less than $10 USD), but this land is well worth it. Besides, very few landmarks in Iceland charge admission- right now- so dishing out $20 for sightseeing for your entire trip is nothing compared to the amount of things you will see and experience! We spent a majority of the morning hours exploring here. The sand was surprisingly smooth for how grainy it looks but it really stuck to the skin. Blue seashell pieces were scattered along the rocky shore line giving off a beautiful purple hue against the black sand.
We also wandered through ‘The Old Farm’ that sits here, a Viking village set built for a 2009 movie. Most of the materials used were driftwood from the beach and old telephone posts. Icelandic horses were grazing around the abandoned set and we were able to get up close and personal with these majestic beauties! One of them actually walked right up to me!
OXI PASS This was the most insane and terrifying route in Iceland, and that’s including the drive through the West Fjords. The Oxi Pass is a mountain pass at above 539m above sea level. It’s a well maintained gravel road, but narrow and steep with sections up to 17% and no guard rails. You are literally driving up and over a mountain. The drive has many blind corners so you never know when a car is coming at you. The views were astounding! Of course, the only time I could really appreciate the views was when we stopped at a lookout point because otherwise, I was gripping the door handle and holding onto the car seat saying small prayers that we make it out alive. While I was having minor heart attacks every two minutes, my husband swerved (carefully) in and out among the windy roads. He loved every minute of driving this pass! Me on the other hand… I just wanted to reach the other side without sliding off into oblivion.
SEYDISFJORDUR Tucked away between the mountains is this tiny, charming fishing town. Seydisfjordur is more widely known for its rainbow road and beautiful blue church. But there are so many other facets of this area that make it stand out. As we drew nearer, the clouds and drizzle lifted just enough to reveal many small waterfalls trickling down the mountains on both sides. There were even a few snow covered mountain tops, in August! After driving around the water and walking through the extremely small town, we splurged at a local restaurant called El Grillo Bar to get a taste of the local beer and fresh caught fish. (Pictured below is their foil-baked cod).
Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!