Our first stop was only 106km in South Iceland and a little to the east from Reykjavik as we were just getting used to the left-hand side driving and did not want to drive in the dark. The winter daylight was only from about 9.30 or 10 in the morning and goes down at about 5.30 in the late noon. That gave us only 5 hours of the sun, mostly consumed by the journey to the next place with quick stopovers in between at the nearest attractions.
It was almost dark when we arrived at Eldsto Guesthouse located in the South Iceland who blessed us with a night under their roof. Thor Sveinsson (potter and designer) and G. Helga Ingadóttir (singer and ceramic artist) were very nice to host us even though they were hardly open over winter. We were greeted by the one half of the lovely owner, Helga and had a chat about the place, her husband’s love for pottery, and the Eyjafjallajökull eruption that could be seen from the guesthouse in 2010.
Located on the main street of Austurvegur 2, it’s hard to miss this place before you head on to the Eyjafjallajökull center further South Iceland of the island. They currently provide café and guesthouse services throughout the summer season.
Within the premise, you will find beautiful pottery products and art pieces for purchase. They operate their fine pottery making under the same roof, and it involves techniques and expertise accumulated over years. Under the guidance of her husband, Helga also took classes in the visual arts in Reykjavík, accompanied by private lessons with Gunnar Geir Kristjánsson, an accomplished painter. Helga’s husband, Thor Sveinsson is a Master Potter and he has been doing pottery since about 1972. He was also a designer in a company named Glit based in Reykjavík and taught at Reykjavik School of Art.
Their products are their own art creations, glazed with volcanic glaze, made from pumice and other volcanic substances from Mount Hekla, Eyjafjallajökull glaze and clay from Búðardalur. All these substances have been tested for safety for daily usage. Helga also designs jewellery made from materials such as glass, porcelain, silver, leather so no piece would be the same as it takes a lot of work and training to make sure there’s a perfect balance between shape and colour.
Helga is also a trained singer from Reykjavík School of Singing and Vocal Arts so she gave us a private, front-row seat show of one of her songs she recently recorded professionally. Now we definitely wish we came in the summer, possibly catching some open mic nights at the café and having their scrumptious meals we keep seeing on their facebook page.
Helga and her husband left us to our own in the evening, and we were resting before our next leg of the Icelandic roadtrip to the Eyjafjallajökull, head further South Iceland before stopping over at Vik for the night. The spotless rooms were cosy, with basic necessities covered and the décor made me feel like I was in a nice IKEA showroom.
The kitchen was equipped with any necessary tools for making family-sized meals and there were even coffee, sugar, salt and some foodstuff probably left by other previous travelers which we found to be useful (this seems to be a trend in most guesthouses).
We had a quiet meal before we gave in to the jetlag and woke up to a beautiful snowfall in South Iceland.
Since Hvolsvöllur is located in the South Iceland, there were plenty of things to do and places to visit around the Thorsmork Valley, the Skógafoss and Seljalandfoss waterfalls, the Eyjafjallajökull, Thingvellir National Park and dive at Silfra or do the glacier walk.
Austurvegur 2, 860 Hvolsvöllur, South Iceland
+354 691 3033.