Our first stop is in Borgarnes, at The Settlement Center. This multimedia exhibit opens our eyes to how Iceland was settled in her early days. We learn about how the Viking sailors left Norway and braved the open ocean to arrive and thrive in Iceland. The second exhibit chronicles Egil’s saga, detailing his family’s arrival, settlement, and turmoil.
Our trip winds up the eastern coast along the black sand beach of Djúpivogur. Leaving the Ring Road, we take the shortcut up Route 939 and 95. This dirt road switchbacks up the mountain, crests, and leads us down to Egilsstaðir. Because of the long drive today, we decide to get sandwiches and chips for the road. Beyond town, we rejoin the Ring Road and head west.
Our cabin is tucked at the base of a towering mountain rising from the plains facing the ocean. From this picturesque location, we head to Skógar. I turn into a dirt road, and I soon realize that it’s one too early. Even though it’s the wrong street, there’s a beautiful green field with Skógafoss as a backdrop and no crowds. It’s a picture-perfect location.
Waking up this first morning in Iceland, we enjoy breakfast at the hotel before setting out. The route takes us around Þingvallavatn, a rift valley formed between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. We join the crowds at Þingvellir, hiking to the rock outcropping where the earliest parliament of the world gathered since AD 930. Our kids didn’t enjoy the winds at all.
This is to be our most ambitious international trip to date, not only because we’ll be bringing our three-year-old plus our nearly ten-month-old baby, but because we have planned such varied lodging experiences—the usual hotels, guesthouses, camping, plus a backcountry hut reached only by fording two streams.