Eventually, though, after holding up the bus leaving for about 15 minutes, they finally decided to let me on, and off we headed for Akureyri. The exciting part about taking the highland road (Kjölur route) rather than the slightly faster route is that we got to stop at some of Iceland’s natural attractions on the way – 20 minutes each at Geysir (it’s…you guessed it…a geyser) and Gullfoss (a waterfall – every “foss” in Iceland is a waterfall) and 40 minutes at Hveravellir, a geothermal area of hot springs and steam vents.
At Geysir, we had just enough time to walk from the parking lot to the geyser (called Strokkur) before it erupted. I didn’t get a picture of Strokkur itself, but this is Litli Geysir (Little Geyser) just down the path.
And this is a steam vent, called Smidur.
Next stop was at Gullfoss, an impressive waterfall on the river Hvitá, which drains glacial runoff starting from underneath the glacier Langjökull.
Our next stop was unplanned. We stopped along the road for just a couple minutes to have a chance to get out and walk around on the long stretch of road across the highlands – but when we went to get back on, the engine wouldn’t start.
The bus driver had us all get off and push the bus to give in a running start to help start the engine, but no luck. One of the other passengers, a French biker, came to the rescue and gave the driver some sort of instructions on what to do to start the engine.
Here he is talking with the driver, talking animatedly about engines, while the rest of us stand back and she listens slightly incredulously.
So all the rest of us pushed again, and somehow the two of them managed to get the engine to start while the bus rumbled down the road, leaving all the rest of us passengers in the dust (literally).
It all worked out though, and we got back on the bus and made it to our last mid-trip stop at Hveravellir (where the same French biker ran to the front of the bus as we approached to double-check that the driver would leave the engine running while we stopped).
And a few short hours later, we pulled into the bus station in Akureyri, where I found a map and made my way towards the University and my new home at the student guesthouse (with a little help from the very nice man in charge of the student housing, who picked me up down the road when I thought I’d gotten lost).
Also, happy 4th of July, America!