Overlook to Pingvallavatn on the Golden Circle to Laugarvatn
When I booked the Héraðsskólinn Boutique Hostel for our last night’s stay, I almost passed it over because of the “boutique” label. The building was designed by the famous Icelandic architect, Guðjón Samúelsson, in 1928 as a school for education and culture. What makes it truly delightful is the historic architecture and the range of artifacts saved from the last century and arranged as both practical furniture and décor. Science anatomy charts frame the computer table. A carved wooden couch highlights the sitting room. Walls of books serve as handy little reference library sections in most rooms and even along the hallways. A typewriter and trundle sewing machine are artfully arranged on school desks from different eras. Class photos of students from swim teams, clubs, or graduations are a patchwork of faded gray tones across the dormitory walls.
We check into our sparse and cozy dorm room, then walk around the few buildings surrounding the school. Dinner at the gourmet Lindin Restaurant is a delicious meal of reindeer and Arctic char and dessert of chocolate mousse with black currants from their own garden.
After dinner we browse the shoreline of the shallow inland lake (vatn) and come upon an historic pool that we’ve read about from the Saga stories. Vigdalaug Og Likasteinar is a small consecrated pool and bier stones from the year 1550. Bishop Jon Arason and his two sons defied the Danish order that Catholicism be abandoned and only Lutheranism be practiced. All three were declared outlaws and beheaded. Their bodies were washed at this spring on the banks of Laugarvatn. The placard explains that the pool is believed to have healing powers. Greg and I both bend down to wash our hands in the pool and hope for healing powers, me for my carpal tunnel, and Greg for a recent hand injury. It is a lovely spot. The miracle is in the landscape.
The Fontana Geothermal Baths is open for another hour so we relax in the silky hot springs until closing. The view across Laugarvatn is meditative as gray clouds settle in to signal night with a somewhat darker sky.
We return to Héraðsskólinn for an easy sleep even as the sun illuminates the clouds in pink and red all through the ever-sunset night. In the morning we’re impressed with the breakfast buffet where we make our own waffles. They are so delicious that when we return home, the first thing I order from Amazon is an Icelandic style waffle maker, to relive that delectable morning over and over again. Various fruits and homemade jams make the memories even sweeter.
The dining room is luminous in sunshine glistening off vivid greens of grass and copses beneath the piercing blue of summer sky. We scan our guidebooks at breakfast, anticipating our last day’s itinerary, a visit to Geysir and Gullfoss before we head home. We linger through breakfast hours and take our coffee and tea into the sunny living room as the dining room closes to savor this unique hotel and its myriad cultural delights.