Day 6 (West Fjords) – Our Ring Road trip around Iceland in a camper van

Day 6: Drangsnes – Litlibær – The Arctic Fox Centre – Ísafjörður – Simbahöllin – Dynjandi

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Drangsnes

After having a great night sleep on our first night at the West Fjords (bourbon the night before has definitely helped…), we headed to heated pots near Drangsnes – another brilliant Instagram find. These are three small hot pots located on the side of a road looking over the sea and they differ by temperature. When we arrived there were 3 more people already soaking and enjoying the views, after having a shower across the street (which was amazing by the way, brilliant facilities, and we left some money in the honesty box too) we spent the next hour soaking and chatting to the rest of tourists, which was actually really nice and we ended up helping each other with taking a couple of photos!

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Later I wanted to stop at Iceland Sorcery & Witchcraft museum, but again it was still shut because we were there so early, hence we decided to drive past it, as we had a lot of driving to do on this day. The next few hours we spent driving along the West Fjords – it was absolutely breathtaking! The weather was a bit moody too, so the landscape looked truly magical.

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Litlibær

We stopped for lunch just off the road to have some soup and sandwiches. And I do wish we didn’t fill ourselves up…next stop was another random star on google maps. I completely forgot why I’ve saved it and it turned out to be absolutely amazing family run waffle house – Litlibær! So we obviously had to have some coffee and waffles there, it felt like we were in someone’s kitchen yet surrounded by a few tourists – so cool. Also they had a very friendly dog.

West Fjords - random lunch stop
West Fjords – random lunch stop

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West Fjords - random lunch stop

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The Arctic Fox Centre

Continuing with the animal theme (completely random) our next stop was The Arctic Fox Centre in Súðavík. The Arctic Fox Centre is a non-profit research and exhibition center, focusing on the arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) – the only native terrestrial mammal in Iceland. There is a great exhibition about the history of arctic fox which we both found fascinating, and the absolute highlight is of course the fact that they keep few foxes running around and you can say hello to them.

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Ísafjörður

After admiring arctic foxes for a bit we headed to Ísafjörður, which is a little town and interestingly enough translates as ice fjord or fjord of ice. Initially we stopped there to get some petrol but ended up staying for a bit as we stumbled upon a football game. So random!

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Simbahöllin

I must admit that this day ended up being a day of treats as our next stop was another amazing coffeehouse Simbahöllin, this time in Thingeyri. It was wonderful! Coffee was great, cakes were great and so was the atmosphere. It felt we were in trendy London rather than at the edge of the world.

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West Fjords - ring road trip

Dynjandi

We finished yet another treat and headed to our last stop for the day, which was another spectacular waterfall – Dynjandi. It is the biggest waterfall in West Fjords and probably one of the most impressive ones in Iceland…I know it is a big statement, but the cascading water falling down 100 meters from the edge of the cliff is truly magnificent. There is a good car park at the bottom but you do have to climb for about 15 min but it is totally worth it! And the views of the fjords from the top are insane.

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West Fjords - ring road trip

Our stop for a night ended up being a tiny parking lot on the side of the road, but there was barely any traffic and we were the only people staying overnight. Again, we left nothing behind and departed really early so didn’t disturb anyone at all.

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West Fjords is definitely a fantastic place to see but I think we appreciated it even more, because it was significantly quieter in comparison to the rest of the Iceland.

Only two more days left of our Icelandic saga

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

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Foxes Farm Pumpkin Patch – Connecting the London Dots

Last weekend we have finally visited Foxes Farm Pumpkin Patch, which I’ve been seeing all over Instagram lately.

Foxes Farm Pumpkin patch - Connecting the London dots

Foxes Farm Pumpkin patch - Connecting the London dots

Foxes Farm Pumpkin patch - Connecting the London dots

Pumpkin Patch
When I was a child my grandmother used to grow pumpkins in her garden and I remember, that every autumn we used to get at least one giant pumpkin that would last us for ages.

Foxes Farm Pumpkin patch - Connecting the London dots
Halloween only became popular when I grew up, when we were children, it wasn’t a thing in Latvia at all and we only knew about Halloween from American movies. I still don’t really like dressing up and carving pumpkins (what a waste of a squash). But I’ve always wanted to visit a pumpkin patch. All those American photos looked great!

So when I heard that there is one just outside London and I made sure we visited it before it shuts at the end of October. It is a great place to stroll around, pick up a few pumpkins and take tons of photos. It is definitely a family kind of place but because we were there just after opening time at 10am it wasn’t too crowded.

 

Foxes Farm Pumpkin patch - Connecting the London dots

Foxes Farm Pumpkin patch - Connecting the London dots

Foxes Farm Pumpkin patch - Connecting the London dots

Foxes Farm Pumpkin patch - Connecting the London dots
We got 4 pumpkins to take home, and they are now waiting to be cooked. Oh and you can pay by card there too, which is brilliant!

Overall it is a great way to spend a Sunday morning and get in that autumnal mood.

You can get more information on their website www.foxesfarmproduce.co.uk. They also do Christmas tree markets later in the year!

Foxes Farm Pumpkin patch - Connecting the London dots

Foxes Farm Pumpkin patch - Connecting the London dots

Foxes Farm Pumpkin patch - Connecting the London dots

Day 5 – Our Ring Road trip around Iceland in a camper van

Day 5: Mývatn Nature Bath – Grjótagjá caves – Dimmuborgir – Goðafoss – Akureyri – Christmas Garden – Hvítserkur – Borðeyri

Day 5 was my actual birthday! We woke up in a campsite next to lake Mývatn and after having our usual breakfast of granola, yogurt and black coffee, we headed to Mývatn Nature Bath – this was Calum’s treat for me. I love anything where I can swim or soak!

Mývatn Nature Bath

Because it was such a cold day – around 5 degrees Celsius and pretty much horizontal rain, the entry ticket was slightly discounted. We arrived around 11am and it was reasonably quiet. The water wasn’t as hot as it normally is apparently but I think it added a bit of charm – having to find warmer spots and trying our best to hide our faces away from the rain. In a comparison to the Blue Lagoon, this place is not as stylish but it feels much more authentic. Facilities are clean and maybe a bit outdated but it didn’t bother us at all.

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After soaking and swimming for over an hour, we had hot chocolates at the cafe and Calum tried lava bread (Hot Spring bread cooked using thermal energy) with smoked trout – I’m a vegetarian so didn’t try any of that, but to be honest I don’t think Calum loved it that much, as he left some of it. This open sandwich had such a strong smell of ash!

Grjótagjá caves

Our next stop was Grjótagjá caves – they became hugely popular after GOT was filmed there. These caves are small lava caves with thermal spring inside – people actually used to bath in there, sadly it is too hot these days so we couldn’t go for a dip. However, when we were there, young guys in their swimming trunks kept diving in as apparently one of them lost his car keys in water…

Caves are really cool and it is fun to touch the water; unfortunately because it is so dark inside it was hard to take good photos. And here is a little tip, everyone always heads for the bigger cave right next to the car park but actually a few meters away there is a smaller cave which was completely empty when we got there.

Grjótagjá Caves

Dimmuborgir

Next we headed to Dimmuborgir, which is a huge area of unusually shaped lava fields. It is a big nature park now with lots of different walks and trails running through it. Because the previous day was so long, we both were pretty tired so didn’t fancy walking for too long; we did a quick lap around it and headed back to our van.

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Goðafoss

We had quite a lot of driving to do on this day, as we were hoping to reach West Fjords by the end of the day. During the drive we quickly stopped at Goðafoss waterfall – is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. The water of the river Skjálfandafljót falls from a height of 12 meters over a width of 30 meters. In the year 1000 the Lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði made Christianity the official religion of Iceland. After his conversion Þorgeir threw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall.

The weather was terrible by this point, so we didn’t spend much time there either. But we did walk to the very edge – waterfall looked stunning! It is another popular destination, so it was pretty crowded. I do have a good skill of taking photos without people in them, if I say so myself. So please don’t trust all the photos you see form Iceland on internet – it is packed with tourists in summer time!!

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Akureyri

After a few hours of driving we finally got to Akureyri – the northern capital of Iceland at the base of a fjord. It is a very lively city with tons of things to do, but the only stop we made was a bakery…I know, we have our priorities in order. Sadly we haven’t taken any photos of pastries, but they were huge! And that’s pretty much all we ate the rest of the day. It was my birthday after all.

Celebratory chocolate milk
Celebratory chocolate milk in Akureyri

The Christmas Garden

After eating pastries and drinking chocolate milk, I made Calum drive to The Christmas Garden. I’m a huge Christmas enthusiast, the tree goes up at least a month before the 25th of December in our house. Christmas house is a fun little place to wonder around. From the outside it looks like ginger house and they have the worlds largest advent calendar in there. The cafe and gift shop looked great too, but after eating pastries from this bakery in Akureyri we couldn’t justify having more food. Definitely a good stop for anyone who likes Christmas or is below the age of 5…unfortunately this didn’t make a list of Calum’s Icelandic highlights but I loved it!

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Christmas Garden in Akureyri

Hvítserkur

As the weather stayed wet and cold all day, we only stopped at Hvítserkur before finding a place to stay for the night. Hvítserkur is a basalt stack that looks like a drinking dragon. It is a bit of a detour from the main road and when we were there it was so quiet and we only saw a few more cars along the way. Again, being tired and cold we didn’t bother going down to the beach and just took a few photos from the edge of the cliff.

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Borðeyri

I probably have mentioned previously that our plan was to drive around West Fjords, which meant leaving the main road behind for a few days. Not too far away from turning north from the A1 we found a village of Borðeyri and there was a brilliant little campsite right next to the water.

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After parking up we cooked my birthday feast which consisted of mash potatoes topped which mac’n’cheese. Let’s be honest, this wasn’t our healthiest day but it was my 30th birthday which is fantastic excuse to eat carbs all day. We drunk a fair bit of bourbon and fell asleep listening to wind and rain outside.

Stay tuned for more, only 3 more days to go…

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

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A day trip to 1066 Battle of Hastings, Abbey and Battlefield, East Sussex

The only reason I’ve decided to visit Battle was because I’ve driven through it and the abbey looked really nice from the distance. I know this sounds a bit silly, but in all honesty I haven’t heard much about this place before…And I’m so glad I haven’t had any expectations when I’ve arrived there, because the Abbey and its grounds left me pretty much speechless.

Battle Abbey, East Sussex
View from the Gatehouse, Battle Abbey, East Sussex
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I had a free morning so decided to spent it exploring somewhere new! It was a very short drive to the Abbey as I stayed nearby. There is a handy car park next to, however be aware that you have to pay £3.50 during opening hours and £4.50 when it is closed. Remember to get a token at the ticket desk! And I have been told that parking in that area is not easy, so to save myself stress I parked at the Abbey and paid the fee. The ticket to the actual Abbey was around £11. I genuinely didn’t know what to expect so when I got in, I’ve looked at the map that I’ve been given and chosen to walk the Easy route as I’ve only had a few hours before i had to go back to work, the route took me around an hour but I kept stopping to take photos and read signs.

The place is famous for the battle of Hastings which happened on the 14th of October 1066 and which changed the history of England as we know it. Later William the Conqueror vowed to build an abbey where the Battle of Hastings had taken place and the first church was finished in the 1094. All that is left of the abbey church itself today is its outline on the ground, but parts of some of the abbey’s buildings are still standing: those built between the 13th and 16th century. These are still in use as the independent Battle Abbey School.

My first stop was the Gatehouse where ticket office and gift shop are. There are few great rooms to explore and my highlight was the fact that you can get to the rooftop where the views are mesmerising!! Definitely worth a trip through a narrow staircase.

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Battle Abbey, East Sussex

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After that I’ve visited a little exhibition about the battle of 1066, make sure you watch a movie in there. I didn’t learn a lot about the battle in school (I didn’t grow up in UK so didn’t study British History), so I found the movie very educational.

Next I walked past the actual battlefield – I wasn’t allowed to walk on it this time, as during my visit they were preparing for the replay of the battle which is an annual event. But it was still impressive to stand so close to something which has such a great historical value!

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Another highlight for me, was the Dormitory where monks used to sleep – I thought the building was beautiful!

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I got very lucky as the weather was glorious and the Abbey looks especially lovely. Also I strongly recommend visiting the gift shop – they have some lovely wines and liquors sold there, I’ve even started my Christmas shopping.

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Battle, East Sussex

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Antics Shop, Battle, East Sussex
After walking around the Abbey I went for a little stroll along the high-street – so many beautiful antic shops and tea houses. I had my lunch at Battle Deli  Coffee shop – soya cappuccino and homity pie were both amazing! Strongly recommend!

Battle Abbey, East Sussex

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Battle Deli & Coffee Shop

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Battle Deli & Coffee Shop
Overall I thing Battle is wonderful stop if you are exploring East Sussex and the Abbey is worth visiting to see famous battlefield and take in a bit of history.

Have you seen my post about Hastings?

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A day trip to Hastings in East Sussex 

I had a work project near Battle and Hastings, and was quite flexible on the day I have arrived so I could work from anywhere, hence I decided to drive to Hastings, to spend a few hours there, as I have heard good things about it.

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Hastings is known for 1066 Battle of Hastings (I did visit the actual battlefield and Battle Abbey a few days later, so blog post to come) and Hastings Castle – once a home to William the Conqueror; there are also a few museums and an amazing pier.


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I parked my car and headed to the seaside. Living in London, the seaside is definitely something I miss a lot, therefore that was my first stop.

The beach is pebbled, just like Brighton beach. And the pier is the main feature on the seaside. It has been built in Victorian times, in the late 19th century and went through major changes during the times, however it experienced a devastating fire in 2010 and only has been reopened in April 2016. Somehow it managed to keep some of its character and I would imagine during summer holidays it is very lively (I was there on in October on a Thursday afternoon and there were still a few tourists around).

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After spending some time strolling around the pier, I made my way to the old town, which is very charming. I walked past so many lovely looking tearooms, definitely a reason to come back. I’ve ended up having lunch in Cafe des Arts, soup was good and cakes looked amazing!

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After working for a few hours, it was time to head back to the hotel but I absolutely loved my little trip to Hastings. Wish I had more time to visit the castle and maybe few museums. Next time!

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Day 4 – Our Ring Road trip around Iceland in a camper van

Day 4: Djúpivogur – Sveinstekksfoss – Breiðdalsvík – Seyðisfjörður – Tvísöngur – Gufufoss – Ásbyrgi – Dettifoss – Hverir – VÍTI

This day we started in Stafafell Campsite. Even though a few more people arrived overnight it was still pretty quiet. And actually, you could definitely feel that we were away from the main tourist tracks by this point.

Calum woke up incredibly early, around 6am (as he did most of the mornings), so he ended up sitting outside, sunning/drying himself for a few hours, so I could sleep for a bit longer which I am very grateful for. Once I woke up, we made breakfast and showered (first proper shower in 3 days…) – it was amazing!!

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We actually ended up driving lots on this day but the weather was great the whole day (I’m sorry for talking about weather so much, but it does play a very important role while traveling in Iceland).

Djúpivogur

The very first stop was a little town of Djúpivogur. If I remember, correctly we mainly stopped there to get petrol but ended up driving around for a bit. It was lovely in a sunshine!

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Sveinstekksfoss

After this we quickly stopped at Sveinstekksfoss waterfall, which again looked amazing in the sunshine. Just look at colour of that water! The drive by this point was amazing – we listened to music very loudly, chatted and truly enjoyed the experience.

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Breiðdalsvík

For a coffee break we stopped at a little fishing town called Breiðdalsvík. It looked absolutely idyllic, hiding between fjords. We had more coffee, more snacks and headed up North.

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My trusty KeepCup

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Seyðisfjörður

We decided to take a little detour from the main road A1 and headed East to Seyðisfjörður, a beautiful port-town. There was a big cruise ship stopping over when we visited so the town felt very lively. We saw a few good looking restaurants there too. However the main reason we came here was to visit Tvísöngur – big concrete domes, it’s an art object and creates amazing echo when you step inside – “Once inside the stark industrial domes, visitors will find that they have each been designed to resonate at different harmonies as the wind blowing in off the cliff rushes through the openings. The collective effect is almost as though the wind itself is playing a giant instrument”.

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We had our lunch on a picnic bench overlooking fjords and colourful buildings. On our way back to the main road we stopped at Gufufoss, which is yet another amazing waterfall.

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Ásbyrgi

Next 3-4 hours we spent driving. The majority of the main road is actually great, but when we turned off North to visit Ásbyrgi Canyon, we regretted not getting 4×4. So if you are visiting, prepare for a bumpy ride! Ásbyrgi is a horseshoe shaped canyon, about 3.5km in length and 1.1km wide, which is a part of Vatnajökull National Park. We strolled around for about an hour, and I’ve read somewhere that, the greenery in the canyon is the closest it comes to forests in Iceland. The place is so tranquil yet somehow you fully expect a t-Rex to jump out around the corner.

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And then our biggest disappointment/mistake happened…we were trying to get to Dettifoss, which is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world (the most powerful waterfall in Europe anyway). And there are two ways you can reach it, basically there are two roads that go parallel to each other and they meet at Ásbyrgi, so we travelled up on the East side and the plan was to go down the West side. Dettifoss is nestled somewhere in the middle. So when we were only 20min from it, driving along the West side, the road suddenly stopped and turned into a swamp…so we had to turn around and drive all way back North and then down again, which added 2 hours to our journey. It was around 9pm when we finally reached Dettifoss. I don’t think we spoke for the majority of that detour as both were simply sad and disappointed in google maps and life in general.

Dettifoss

BUT when we finally arrived – Dettifoss didn’t disappoint. Phenomenal! We also stopped at Hafragilsfoss prior which was also great. Dettifoss is famous for being featured in a lot of movies, like Prometheus. Because it was pretty late and we were pretty tired by that point, we didn’t spend a lot of time admiring the waterfall and decided to drive back to the main road and try to find a place to sleep.

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The plan was to drive to Mývatn and try to find a spot to stay overnight there. We were hoping to be able to stay somewhere hidden near the road but every single bit of free road or land had signs warning that it is strictly prohibited to camp or stay overnight. It was weird because we didn’t see such aggressive messages anywhere else in Iceland, but near the Mývatn lake.

Hverir geothermal area

I have starred Hverir geothermal field on google maps without knowing what it was really. AND it was insane!!! It doesn’t look like planet Earth at all and smell of sulfur is mad. Definitely worth a short stop just to marvel on a field of bubbling earth – the smell won’t let you stay long anyway…the whole area has a very distinctive odor to it, so be prepared. You do get used to it eventually, but again something I have never experienced before. But Hverir was probably one of the most photogenic places in Iceland.

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VÍTI

Next we very quickly drove to see Viti, which is a huge crater left after a volcanic eruption. Again, something you don’t see every day. And in all honesty, my favorite part was driving through Krafla geothermal power plant – seeing steam escaping through Earth was mesmerasing.

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And then finally we gave up on trying to find somewhere free to stay, so ended up going to Bjarg Campsite, it was just after 11pm and the campsite was packed. But we managed to find a little spot and after having our dinner and a bit of bourbon, we went to sleep. The next day was my birthday and we ended up having a little lie in. But on that later.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

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