Our third and final stop on this side of Iceland is Isafjordur. Again, I felt fortunate to find a private guide and be able to avoid the mass bus tours offered by the cruise line.
Our goal today is to drive to the Dynjandi waterfalls. Okay, obviously, I have a thing about Iceland since I’ve been here four times, and I also have a thing about waterfalls (and rainbows that tend to occur near waterfalls). The Dynjandi waterfall is considered the Jewel of the Westfords and I’ve read about this ‘dainty’ fall for a few years.
Dynjandi is very remote and while there are six more waterfalls below Dynjandi, this one is the largest at 197 feet tall. It is about a 15 minute hike to get to the waterfall on a rocky path. The word Dynjandi means thunderous and once you arrive at the waterfall, it fully meets its name.
Like other large waterfalls in Iceland, I can feel amazing and powerful positive energy as the water tumbles over the rocks into the waters below. There are smatterings of red in the waterfall which is caused by iron that is stuck in the lava beds. It truly is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceand.
From our vantage point, Barrett and I look down the mountain and see the six tour buses packed with tourists and the ‘human caterpillar’ trying to make its way up the path. Time to leave! Once we descend and enjoy a few of the smaller falls, we escape the crush of people with our guide Helga.
Helga took off onto a dirt road for 14 km, climbing out of the valley until we reached Hrafnseyri where we stopped for a coffee break and enjoyed local desserts.
Hrafnseyri, Iceland is where the museum celebrating Jon Sigurdsson, known as ‘not the president.’ Jon spearheaded the fight for Iceland’s independence from the Danish. He didn’t live to see it, but Iceland successfully reached his goal in 1944. Jon was born and raised on the farm here. There is a nice museum with a lot of reading and a few artifacts in the museum and also some thatched houses that depict life here. Iceland’s Independence Day is set on Jon’s birthday, 17 June. Restored buildings that replicate the home were nicely done.
Pingeryi is a small village with some really exciting, at least to us, points of interest. The first one was the old blacksmith’s shop that is a foundry/forge/mill shop built in 1913 and is still operational today. Herbert, the one and only staff member kindly walked us through the building telling us stories about melting iron to make ship parts, vises, and other tools as well as showing us how all of the machinery still worked by utilizing these giant overhead belts and gears. The shop’s office is exactly like it was the day the owner stopped business. It continues as a fully functioning shop. It was fascinating!
Ping means ‘parliament’ in Icelandic, pronounced ‘thing’ (sorry but I can’t make the funky ‘p’ shape that makes ‘p’ sound like ‘th’) and so I was a bit puzzled by the name. We all know that Pingvellir is the place the parliament met for nearly 1000 years, so why is this very tiny village named Ping?
Helga walked us out to an open field next to the church were there were dozens of holes and hills. She asked us what we thought they were, and my best guess was mountain bike hills for the kids! I was wrong. Astoundingly, the holes and hills are where the Icelandic Chieftains met each year before going to Pingvellir. Because it was a temporary, once a year stop, they had the walls and doorways standing and then pitched tents over the top. Each spot housed a Chieftain and his family for the few days they met here. It was a great historic find! Barrett and I love Viking and Icelandic history so this was a fun moment for both of us. And it also now made sense why it was called Pingeyri.
The cute town of Flateyri also had a fun fact. The old book store started in 1914 still exists exactly in the same place and is now owned by the 4th generation of the family. When the wife of the original owner died, the family left the house exactly as it was in the 1950’s. ‘Grandma’s house’ was a fun time warp.
On the walls in the general store, they’ve posted some of the store’s financial ledgers and the owner told us they can account for every penny all the way back over the 110 years of existence.
Barrett bought a drawing book and we also bought some original recipe hard candies that use herbs and vegetables such as rhubarb, chamomile.`
Time to return to port, stand in the long line to get on a tender and depart Iceland, temporarily, as the cruise heads for Greenland.