Today was a bit of an adventure. Howard’s shoulder was sore, so I was designated driver for the day. It fell to Howard, therefore, to plan the route and map read. We were heading to the north coast of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which was highly rated for it’s astounding scenery.
After breakfast in our staff-less hotel, (clearly the breakfast fairy had been in during the night, and laid out the buffet breakfast), we thanked and bade farewell to no-one, left our key as instructed, and were on our way.
Within minutes of leaving, Howard had me on a gravel road. He had picked the ‘scenic route’ (quote!). We have encountered gravel roads before, for just a few kilometres, but this route beat the biscuit. At an estimate, I drove about seventy kilometres along the bumpiest, pot-holed, uneven road we had encountered to date. It shook our bones, despite me driving as slow as possible. Local cars and trucks careered past us, at break-neck speed, blowing up tons of dust and gravel in their wake. Safe to say, I was not a happy bunny – that is, until the scenery suddenly became sublime. After that, the surface of the road didn’t seem to matter. Every hundred yards or so, we stopped to take in the amazing vistas before us. Occasionally we stopped and got out of the van, but mostly the road was too narrow to stop unless there was no other traffic in sight. The drive took us the best part of four hours, and at the end, I felt utterly shaken – but was really pleased that we had seen this amazing part of Iceland for ourselves. Most people would just shoot down Route 1, and miss out on this treat completely.
We passed a series of nine Cairns, dating from the first inhabitants of Iceland back in 874. Icelandic Sagas refer to these structures, which are the source of many legends.
When we arrived in Stykkisholmer, the instructions for our B&B were to pick up the key at the local hotel (owned by the same person, we understand). When we presented ourselves at the desk, we were told we had a complimentary upgrade and would have a room in the hotel instead. Our said room is tiny (or snug, as an Estate Agent would say), but pleasantly decorated, and right by the harbour. I suspect they had double booked at the guest house, but no matter – it will definitely be warmer than the van. Despite a little bit of sunshine today, the temperatures here are truly Baltic – not what we had expected at the end of May. Also, staying at the hotel has the added advantage of having WiFi coverage – we have been completely off grid for the past two days, with only sporadic poor 3G coverage throughout the North West of the island.
Stykkisholmer is a pleasant working fishing harbour. This afternoon we took a walk around, and watched the fish being landed off the boats. The harbour crane hoisted crate after crate of huge ugly Lumpfish onto the quayside, and quickly covered them in ice. The female lumpfish are apparently prized for their roe, which is used to make caviar.
This evening, we ate at the seafood restaurant on the harbour. The fish was delicious, and clearly very fresh – only travelling the few yards to the restaurant kitchen.
Our plans for the next few days are in flux. We had hoped to catch the ferry across to the West Fjords, but the forecast is making that increasingly less likely. Tomorrow we will head further down the peninsula, and then just watch the weather.
Hopefully in the next couple of days we can get back in the van, but only if the cold and wind abate. Accommodation costs here are eye-watering, even for basic B & Bs. Two coffees and a cake are usually about £10, and a main course about £25, so we are fortunate to have cooking facilities in Oscar.
In all likelihood, we will be off grid again, wherever we end up. In the meantime, after reading yesterday’s blog post (which I couldn’t send until now), Howard has started giving me about five miles notice of any turn off in the road, and has stopped fidgeting – so if nothing else, it served a useful purpose!! Result.