The Underground Bakery
After our picnic lunch, we returned to the ring road and drove a short distance further west, arriving at another geothermal area where Iceland's very first tiny geothermal plant is located, and still operating. Across the highway from the plant is an area of hot ground known as The Underground Bakery. A series of steel-lined tubes and boxes are implanted into the ground here, and covered with plates and planks. Locals use these underground compartments to bake food (hence the name), the local specialty being a type of rye and molasses-based bread known as hverabrauð. Other things are cooked in here as well.
We had a peek in one of the underground ovens, but found it empty. We didn't want to poke around too much, so we left the rest of the ovens alone.
Bjarnaflag geothermal plant
Next up, just a few kilometres to the west, was Lake Myvatn. The Lake Myvatn area is a big vacation destination in Iceland - a wide, shallow, island-dotted lake teeming with migratory birdlife, including some very rare species. There are also numerous volcanic and geologic attractions in the area. In fact, this whole area in the northeast that we had been exploring sits right atop the mid-atlantic ridge, which comes through Northeast Iceland here.
A glance at the watch revealed that we'd have to skip a detailed exploration of Myvatn, so we had to be content with a scenic drive along the lake's north-western shores.
Continuing our journey west through Northern Iceland, we stopped off briefly at yet another amazing waterfall - this one named Goðafoss - the Waterfall of the Gods. These horseshoe-shaped falls were apparently the spot where, in 1000 A.D., an Icelandic lawspeaker converted to christianity and made it the official religion of Iceland.
Icelandic convsersion memorial