A June 2004 trip
to Iceland by DrMaximus
Quote: Arriving in South Eastern Iceland from the West, the scenery changes from fiery sulphur springs and superheated water jets to glaciers and icebergs of gargantuan proportions.
Hotel | "International Youth Hostel Hofn"
The rooms are spick and span, and there is even a lounge on the second floor filled with travel magazines and newspapers. The clean washroom is common to all four rooms on the second floor. I would not hesitate to stay at the IYH Hofn anytime again.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 10, 2004
International Youth Hostel
Hofn, Iceland 780
To begin with, I had ordered a "smallish" starter of pancake filled with lobster meat. Little did I know that it was actually a meal by itself. When the dish arrived I knew that I was in trouble (due to its size), but yet I could not stop myself from finishing the plate, as it was simply heavenly. The pancake was covered in melted cheddar and the inside was filled to the brim with tender long rice grains, an excellent cream mixture and lots AND LOTS of lobster meat. My friend helped with almost a half of the pancake and the side salad.
Then came the entrees. I opted for the monkfish and my friend had lamb. Both were the best dishes we ever had. The fish was succulent and fresh while the lamb was tender beyond belief. Each came with its special SUPERB sauce into which we dipped out generous serving of potato wedges.
If you drive by Hofn, do not miss dinner at the Kaffi Hornio. There is also an adjacent smoking/relaxation lounge with TV and very comfortable chairs. You may adjourn there for a dessert if there's space for some.
There are four ways to get to Vatnajokull. The easiest stroll begins from the visitor center, walking eastwards from right outside the entrance. The easy stroll takes 30 minutes each way and takes you all the way to the foot of the glacier. Be advised, however, that you only get to see dirty chunks of ice at the foot of the glacier and at ground level it is impossible to fathom the size of that monster.
If you were instead to begin your hike from the top-level car park, you have three ways to get to Vatnajokull. The shortest route takes about 45 minutes each way and the longest may take up to 7 hours return. We chose to take the middle route which took us almost 4.5 hours return, strolling care freely. This route takes you close enough to the famous waterfall to catch a photo, whereas the longest route actually takes you down to the waterfall itself. However it is a tough hike down and up, so if you have a full agenda, give the farthest hike a miss.
What they forgot to mention was the size of those icebergs! Oh boy, those things are huge! As I jumped out of the car even before it had completely stopped, I approached the bank of the lagoon and was just in time to see - and hear - a giant iceberg breaking up. It was simply incredible seeing the submerged parts emerge from under the icy water and lift into the air, only to come splashing down with mighty force as the iceberg completely snapped. At that moment, as I fathomed the might and majesty of those floating icebergs, realizing that only 1/10th of their true size was visible, I felt truly small. A fisherman gave us a big piece of ice picked up from the lagoon. We held it, tasted it and took pictures with it, both silently contented and overwhelmed by the experience. By the time we left, we had taken close to 220 photos at Jokulsarlon alone, including several of the family of arctic seals that called the lagoon their home.
Nearby there is also a quaint little restaurant, which is well known for its large serving of fresh seafood soup. Alternatively, you may wish to ride a motorboat around the lake to get closer to the icebergs and seals.
Temperatures in Southeastern Iceland are more conducive to traveling, and we frequently met couples of cyclists along the Ring Road. Very high waterfalls flow freely in this landscape, with so many of them around that there simply aren't names for all of them.
On this day, we left Holaskjol in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve and headed out eastward into Skaftafell National Park, then passing by Jokulsarlon (and stopping for 300 photos!) and going towards charming Hofn.
Hofn is but a smallish town, although it's the largest in this southeastern part of Iceland. The town itself is very tranquil, and everybody seems to be in some way connected to the fishing port in the town. From here, you also can catch a great glimpse of the gigantic Vatnajokull glacier. Down at the port, look out for a tall flagpole. I asked at the breakfast place and the kind lady told me, in her very limited English, that there's where the fishermen bring in their catch every day.