28 years ago today we wed. If you’ve wondered why we like to travel in May, now you know.
We drove about 30 minutes through the town of Hveragerdi (try and pronounce that one – we’ve been told it actually starts with a K sound) and just outside of the town is the parking lot for today’s hike. We’ve noted that even in an out of the way tourist place, the parking lots are paved, the bathrooms sparkle and all the parking is well signed and marked. North America has a lot to learn from Europe.
The trail to the Reykjadalur hot springs is 4.25 km each way. We had envisioned a gentle walk across a field alongside the river. Not quite. 360m vertical elevation, with 180m in the first 1.5km. Up up up a mountain! Quite the warm up. From there it was an undulating gravel trail another 3km across the mountain’s saddle.
However at the end is a short boardwalk with a nice series of benches and privacy screens so you can change from hiking to soaking attire. The bathing area is just downstream from where the 100° C hot spring meets the cooler river, so the water is beautifully warm and safe for people.
It’s mostly a shallow river so we searched for a deeper pool dammed by a ring of rocks.
Reykjadalur means “steam or smoke valley”. And we can believe it because there are tons of clay pots and steam vents on the hike in.
By the time we were ready to go, the river had gotten crowded and the rain was threatening again. The hike back to the car was physically easier but very windy and cold!
In the village is Skyrgerdin. The building, dating from 1930, was originally a village assembly house and Skyr dairy. It was the first factory to produce yogurt in Iceland – Skyr in Icelandic. Skyr was bottled in glass and sold as ‘heilsumjolk’ or healthy milk. We love our Skyr for breakfast at home and have enjoyed it here too. Skyr is incredibly thick and creamy yogurt.
Skyrgerdin restaurant incorporates skyr into all of their menu items. Sadly they weren’t open to the public today as they were hosting the local village election event. Apparently civic elections are a huge deal and good reason to party for two days! We may have to visit again on our next trip here.
Our 28th anniversary dinner was at Ingolfsskali Viking Restaurant. It is a turf-roofed Viking longhouse named for Ingolfur Arnarson, first settler of Iceland. We drank from sheep horns and ate with fire-forged cutlery. There are various animal skins on the walls and tables. The bar has hand carved decorations of Odin and Frigg, king and queen of Asgard, as well as Odin’s two ravens, Huginn and Munnin. Overall very Viking ambience.
Dinner mains were langoustine (little lobsters) in a dark soup broth for Kris and lamb with celeriac for Dave. Skyr mousse with oats and blueberries for dessert. All in all a very enjoyable experience.
With today being the municipal Election Day there were a few people in the place dressed in traditional Icelandic attire. What we didn’t find out until the next day is that two of those people were the Icelandic President and his wife having dinner with one of their parents. We recognized a photo of them in another restaurant. Apparently they are pretty chill people, hanging out with the locals and driving their kids to school!
So we unknowingly had an anniversary dinner with the President and his wife.