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Lost iPhones and Haunted Viking Tombs

hjorleifshofdi iceland

If there is anyplace in the world that you can easily believe is haunted, it must be Iceland.

Frequently described as “otherworldly,” Iceland definitely has a landscape that will leave you saying, “damn, how is this for real?” Well at least for me.

Combined with its reverence for lore and story-telling and the profound feeling of emptiness and vast open spaces bereft of people, it’s not hard to believe that Iceland might be home to a supernatural place here and there.

hjorleifshofdi iceland

hjorleifshofdi iceland

After exploring Vik on the south coast of Iceland and getting to see the midnight sun from the terrifying Katla Volcano and Mýrdalsjökull Glacier, our Tiny Iceland crew and I decided it wasn’t enough, and we were determined to climb up Hjörleifshöfði (try saying that 5 times fast – actually, try saying that at all) on on our #IcelandChallenge on a 7 day stopover with Icelandair.

Hjörleifshöfði basically looks like a giant vibrant green island that has erupted vertically from a black sand ocean. It’s not a hill that slowly eases from the ground, nope, not at all; like most of the Icelandic landscape, it’s rugged, wild and a little bit jarring to look at, in a beautiful way.

Oh, and did I mention it’s totally haunted?

hjorleifshofdi iceland


hjorleifshofdi iceland

Back in the day roundabouts 874, Hjörleifur Hróðmarsson, the badass viking brother of the first Nordic settler in Iceland, Ingólfur Arnarson, sheltered here over the winter only to be killed by his Irish slaves within a year. Ing, being a badass viking, had to see revenge, hunting out the rebel slaves and killing them.

Ever since Hjörleifshöfði has an aura of bad juju surrounding it, and while farmers settled on the jutting mountain rock for a time, it was eventually abandoned, its buildings crumbling and overgrown once more. At the top you’ll find Hjörl’s tomb.

Icelanders love a good story and legend, with the supernatural having a definite place amongst its histories and culture. Next time you’re in Iceland, ask a local about Hjörleifshöfði and see what they say, that is, if you can pronounce it.

hjorleifshofdi iceland

hjorleifshofdi iceland

Parking our #IcelandChallenge-mobile at the foot of the green mountains in a field of pink and purple lupins sprouting up from the black sands, we just started heading, well, up. Because no trees grow on Hjörleifshöfði, you can’t really get lost. You just sort of follow the mushed-down grass and moss where a few adventurous souls have tramped before you.

Huffing and puffing we made it halfway before climbing to the cliff edges and taking incredibly stupid photos dangling off the sides of the mountains. With no gentle slopes downhill, the rock basically just drops off hundreds of feet below into the sands.

Like I said, otherworldly.

hjorleifshofdi iceland

Eventually we made it to the top, gazing out all around the surrounding mountains, glaciers and sea. Literally jumping for joy, we spent some time lounging about snacking, making videos, taking too many pictures and of course, practicing our Hjörleifshöfði pronunciations.

But where were the ghosts?

I thought this place was supposed to be scary.

hjorleifshofdi iceland

hjorleifshofdi iceland

hjorleifshofdi iceland

Source – Marika Paz

All of a sudden a misty cloud drops down and quickly begins creeping over the back of the mountain right towards us. Looking around, we realized it literally looked like a white wall was coming straight for us – it was really freaky!

Grabbing our things, we quickly made our way down the other side of the hill, forgoing the little path in search of our own. Sometimes we even took turns rolling down the side of the mountain on the spongy moss, because WHY NOT?!

Ok, that might have just been me. I just can’t help myself sometimes.

hjorleifshofdi iceland

hjorleifshofdi iceland

Source – L. Marck Photography

hjorleifshofdi iceland

Source – Marika Paz

Halfway down, I realized something terrible, something horrific, something heartbreaking. Can you imagine what’s the worst possible thing that could happen to a blogger?

I realized I had lost my phone.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Cue weeping, screaming, and childish foot stomping.

With a look of utter horror on my face, I sank to my knees in the moss and almost started to cry when Marika came back up to me snapping me out of my drama queen moment.

“Snap out out of it you fool, I’ll help you find it.” This pretty much sums up our friendship in a heartbeat.

hjorleifshofdi iceland

hjorleifshofdi iceland

hjorleifshofdi iceland

Source – L. Marck Photography

Realizing early on in the trip that my rain jacket wasn’t up to Icelandic rain and waterfall standards, Inga let me borrow one of her proper raincoats to wear. But being a shell, it didn’t have proper pockets, rather it zippered open so that you could reach the pockets of whatever fleece you were wearing on the inside.

Caught up in the viking ghost attack, I stuck my phone in the hole and not all the way inside to my hoodie pocket.

Dumb Liz, dumb Liz.

Knowing it was around there somewhere, not to mention there wasn’t really any proper trees or people to knick it, it was only a matter of time and how long the team would put up with me freaking out over my iPhone.

hjorleifshofdi iceland

Crawling back and forth up the mountain, and bribing everyone to come and help me, after a solid 45 minutes I finally spotted it sitting on top of a pile of tall grass on the spine of the mountain.

Grabbing it, kissing it and rolling around in the grass like a puppy, I whooped and laughed for joy for a good 5 minutes before I realized just how ridiculous I was being.

I mean, sweet jesus, when did I get so attached to my phone?

To be honest, I was more upset about the potential loss of all my photos from the trip which I hadn’t backed up yet. I’ve started using my phone on trips more and more frequently, but that day I learned the important lesson of ALWAYS offloading that shit, ALWAYS dropboxing those pics and ALWAYS iClouding everything.

hjorleifshofdi iceland

hjorleifshofdi iceland

But even then it shouldn’t matter. I should have been happy enough that I had the memory of these places to take with me; that should have been enough.

Clutching my iPhone to my chest, I realized something profound on top of that great green mountain in Iceland – don’t mess with the viking ghosts on their turf because they WILL fuck with you.

Oh, and I also learned to be less materialistic and calm the hell down.

There are more important things than iPhones, like travel memories and true friends who will put up with you and help you search on top of a mountain for something not all that important.

So thank you Marika, Laura and Inga.

Have you been to Iceland and encountered viking ghosts? Ever lost your phone or something important on the road? 

More stories on Tiny Iceland here and thanks to Icelandair for hosting us in Iceland.

Hjörleifshöfði – South Iceland from Tiny Iceland on Vimeo.

hjorleifshofdi iceland


55 Responses to Lost iPhones and Haunted Viking Tombs

  1. Meg February 4, 2014 at 1:56 am #

    Hi Liz, came across your blog a few weeks back find it really interesting, I also emailed you and asked you a few questions, I hope to hear back from you soon!! 🙂

    • Liz February 4, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

      answering now 🙂

      • Meg February 4, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

        Thank you!!! 🙂

        • Meg February 8, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

          I’ve emailed you back again! Your possibly bound to get sick of me haha.. Just thought i’d let you know 🙂

  2. Kaelene @Unlocking Kiki February 4, 2014 at 2:05 am #

    Beautiful pictures of Iceland! I totally believe Iceland is haunted, it seems like every place we go hiking at here there is a haunted story behind it as well!

    • Liz February 4, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

      I know, right? It’s really just incredible.

  3. Rebe February 4, 2014 at 2:57 am #

    Glad you found your phone! I think anyone would have reacted the same way — that’s an item you don’t want to lose.

    I actually just got back from 10 days in Bangkok, and on the fifth day my camera’s memory card filled up. (I hadn’t used my digital camera much since acquiring an iPhone in Korea, so I didn’t realize it had been on the setting for the biggest file-size, causing it to fill up much faster than normal. Whoops.) So I bought this 64 GB flashdrive/card reader at a convenience store, thinking I could store the pictures on the flashdrive and then clear the memory card.

    Well, I can’t read Thai, and turns out the flash drive couldn’t store anything — it was only a reader, and could read cards up to 64 GB. While using this flashdrive/reader to upload some pics to GoogleDrive on the hostel computer, all of a sudden it told me the flashdrive was empty. The entire memory card had been wiped!

    It was a real bummer — I had seen some great sights during the previous days that I really wanted to share with others and remember for myself. I do try to soak in what I’m seeing while traveling before snapping a pic; sometimes cameras get in the way of actually seeing and experiencing what’s in front of you in that moment. So I don’t have the photos, but I do have the memories etched into my mind. And I will not travel without a second memory card again!

    • Liz February 4, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

      OMG I just freaked out for you.

  4. Jenna February 4, 2014 at 3:05 am #

    Gah, I don’t blame you one bit for being devastated at the thought of losing your iPhone… and your photos from the trip. I would shamelessly be exactly the same! Because iPhones HELP you to collect moments not things… see the rationalization there 😉

    • Liz February 4, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

      Love the rationalization haha

  5. Rachel of Hippie in Heels February 4, 2014 at 3:07 am #

    gahhh I react the same way though- I think we all do.

    • Liz February 4, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

      Aghhh!! Worst feeling in the entire world!

  6. Jen February 4, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    Iceland looks like such a mythical and intriguing place. Can’t wait to get there soon. Oh and don’t worry I would die if I lost my phone too.

    • Liz February 4, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

      phew glad it’s not just me

  7. Marika February 4, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    Hahahaha you jackass, I love you! And thank god we found that phone, I thought we would be stuck there forever!

    • Liz February 4, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

      True story, I don’t think I would have let you guys leave haha

  8. Steve February 4, 2014 at 11:12 pm #

    I think I would react the same. I know I did when I found my iPod. Maybe we get too attached to these things.

    • Liz February 5, 2014 at 10:00 am #

      Definitely oh man

  9. Matthew Cheyne February 4, 2014 at 11:32 pm #

    No matter how many travel blogs I read, I can never read too many articles and see too many pictures of Iceland. I just love how the land hasn’t been totally taken over by human activity as in other parts of Europe. It has this mystery and wildness to it that has totally taken me in. If…I should instead say when, I make it to Europe, Iceland is definitely on the list if not the first place I want to visit.

    • Liz February 5, 2014 at 10:00 am #

      You hit the nail on the head. Iceland should be number 1!

  10. Sophia February 4, 2014 at 11:44 pm #

    And I thought the German names were long and complicated with their umlauts! What a story and happy for your happy ending. 🙂 When my bag was stolen in Milan a few years back I lost EVERYTHING, except my camera that I had thankfully stuck in my jacket pocket. I still maintain it would’ve been the worst thing to lose… passports can be replaced but photos from 6 weeks of backpacking can’t!

    • Liz February 5, 2014 at 10:01 am #

      Exactly! Photos might be the most important thing for me right now, yikes~

  11. Breana W February 5, 2014 at 2:04 am #

    Love this! Been following your blog for a while now, you’ve been such an inspiration to me!

    • Liz February 5, 2014 at 10:01 am #

      Thank you! That makes me happy to hear!

  12. Katie February 5, 2014 at 2:09 am #

    Glad you found your phone!

    It’s definitely losing the photos that’s the worst bit at times like that. I lost my camera in New Zealand a few years ago – but unfortunately not everyone was as kind as your friends in helping me look for it. 🙁

    • Liz February 5, 2014 at 10:03 am #

      OMG what a jerk! I’m glad you were able to get it back, New Zealand is so great about that sort of thing.

  13. Bryce February 5, 2014 at 5:04 am #

    Nice blog. Love looking at your photos. Iceland is indeed a magical place. Taking my 3rd trip this Fall. I’m sure it won’t be the last! Safe travels-

    • Liz February 5, 2014 at 10:04 am #

      I love that, have a good time! Iceland is the kind of place that people keep returning to over and over again

  14. Rose February 5, 2014 at 5:09 am #

    There is a free app called “find my phone”. As long as someone else has a smart phone in your group you can use their phone to find yours – gets you very, very close to it.

    • Liz February 5, 2014 at 10:05 am #

      yeah! I had heard about it but at that point, my phone wasn’t unlocked so I was only able to use wifi when traveling and Inga, and on top of it, there wasn’t cell reception up there very much

  15. Valerie February 5, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    Isn’t it funny how attached we become to things? At the end of the day, it is about the memories because no one can take those from you! I have recently put Iceland on my list of places to see. I never thought I would want to go visit someplace cold, but I’m up for the challenge. The story of the Haunted Viking Tombs is mysterious and I hope to see it in person one day!

    • Liz February 7, 2014 at 11:00 am #

      It’s really too cool, if you come to Iceland, give yourself an extra day in Vik so you can go up there!

  16. Bridget @ A Traveling B February 6, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    LOVE your photos! They are so stunning. You are making me increasingly excited for my trip to Iceland in August!

    • Liz February 7, 2014 at 11:12 am #

      It’s really amazing!

  17. Alison February 6, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    These pictures don’t even look real! Ok, I want, no, NEED, to go to Iceland ASAP.

    • Liz February 7, 2014 at 11:11 am #

      It’s even better in person!

  18. Nina February 7, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    You are so beatiful! Not just because of your gorgeous birth-given features, but also because you look so happy 🙂
    That’s really inspiring, seing someone who’s happy everywhere, anywhere. And I have no doubt that you’ll get everything you dream about just because of that – of being happy, I mean.
    I wish you all the best. I think I’ve never commented here, but felt like I should say this today, don’t know why… But I guess hearing that you are inspiring should always be a good thing to hear 🙂
    (Sorry about the english, I’m Brazilian)

  19. Kaitlyn February 7, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    Dying to go to Iceland after reading all your posts about it…even if it is a bit haunted lol. I’ve been reading your blog for awhile, but finally decided to leave a comment. I’m an auxiliar in Spain….yours was the first blog I read about the program that convinced me to come over here!

  20. Claudia February 8, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    Hey Liz! I have been following your blog ever since I went to live in Barcelona for 5 months, because I travelled around Spain and loved your comments on the cities there.
    Barcelona is the city of pickpockets, but I never got robbed. Three days ago, however, some gypsies in Paris attacked me and stole my iPhone. Actually, I was surprised by how calm I was under all of it. I cried for a minute and moved on.
    My iPhone is my most precious possession and had everything on it. For the first time ever on a holiday I didn’t back-up my pictures every night… Everything is gone.
    Frankly, I think your blog has helped me with it. To realize that sometimes memories and experiences of travels are more important and have a higher value than a phone that can be replaced.
    I know what that feeling is like to lose your phone and still feel like you can find it, but now I also know what it feels like to lose and know that it is lost forever. I’m happy for you that you got yours back!

  21. Abhishek Gupta February 11, 2014 at 4:52 am #

    Hey Liz

    I am truly inspired of the posts on your site. The remarkable pictures in this post has truly made South Iceland as an exciting destination to be at….

    • Liz February 11, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

      It’s really amazing!

  22. The Hopeless Wanderer February 13, 2014 at 5:58 am #

    These photos though pretty do look pretty eery! I can’t blame you for freaking out over your phone either as I would have done the same thing…frolicking once found and all!

  23. Heather February 13, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    Losing my photos is probably my number one fear while traveling. I have an especially irrational fear of dropping my camera in water. I’d probably be the girl jumping in shark infested waters to try to rescue a dropped gadget!

    • Liz February 20, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

      me too, me too 😀

  24. Naomi February 13, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

    You read my mind! I just saw the first pic and was like “How real is this!” Iceland is amazingly beautiful! I want to go there some day. Did you take all the photos? You must be great at it! And that pocket hole in your jacket just reminded me of how I often lose my cash in those holes. Just the other day my friend lost her passport only to find it after a week in a jacket hole and she told me, “Hey buddy, you know what I found my passport in that s***** hole in my jacket. And guess what, I also found a sack of maize and my cat too. ” Of course she was kidding about the sack and cat. But that’s how those holes can be. Enough for today. Say hi to your friends! 🙂

    • Liz February 20, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

      hahaha those damn holes!

  25. Alyson February 19, 2014 at 1:03 am #

    I religiously back up my photos to an external hard drive when I get back from a trip, so imagine my freak-out when I appeared to have lost the external hard drive with 4 years worth of travels plus all my college years

    Two days later when I seemed to have come to peace with the loss, plus emails to every hotel, airline and place I’d been for the two days before, I found the external hard drive. Must have been some kind of travel karma!

  26. Camila March 6, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    Looove Iceland so much. Spent a couple of days there last year and fell deeply in love with it, definitely coming back for a longer stay, I’ve only been to the golden circle/blue lagoon, but your pictures are just amazing!
    And I have a funny story too involving pictures and Iceland, when I got back home from the airport I forgot my camera on the train, fortunately my stop was the last one and a grumpy member of the staff took me there to look for it (even though he kept complaining that he had searched the whole train already) and I got it back, but it the meantime I was crying my eyes out, I had spent the whole train ride looking at the pics thinking how awesome they were.
    Even though the memories will stay with us forever it’s always nice to have pics to show to our loved ones back home… 🙂

  27. me March 27, 2014 at 1:12 am #

    They come at the price that is commensurate with other valuable services and products. If you’re just getting started article marketing online I would definitely begin with them.

  28. Nakita June 14, 2014 at 3:44 am #

    Your post just made me so nostalgic about my trip to Iceland; I honestly count down the days until I will be reunited with that beautiful and mesmerizing country. That’ll have to wait though, with an Australian work/travel visa in hand I have another epic adventure on the way before I return to Iceland.

    Also, the fear of losing your phone is REAL. I hate to be so materialistic but man, I would cry for days.

  29. Kristine August 15, 2016 at 4:03 am #

    Hello, ummm … why did you include photos from the black sand beach and the church in Vik in with this blog post. They are nice photos, but have nothing to do with Hjorleifshofdi – you can’t see them from there. 🙂


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