A 11-day adventure by Simon and Jackie
  • Day11

    Day 11 - No Dust Up Over Duster

    May 21 in Iceland ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    The alarm went off at 5.15am to what was a beautiful sunny day in Iceland. We showered, popped down to our breakfast buffet, then around 6.30am we set off to Ace car rental ready & set to have an argument about the chip on the windscreen.

    Jackie had already frozen her credit card & we were delighted to see that the early morning dew was camouflaging the chip on the windscreen. We entered the car rental office & was served by a trainee, which was a good start, but the obnoxious git who had tried to flog us the extra insurance offered to check the damage with him. Damn. They return minutes later and announced that there was no damage & we were free to leave. Yet again we had survived a rental car damage inspection!!

    We were driven to the airport for our flight home, which all went smoothly until I discovered I had unruly kids both in front & behind me. Even they couldn’t dampen what was an excellent trip timed to perfection, if I don’t mind saying so myself!!

    In the last 10 days we had driven a total of 2,638 kilometres through virtually every weather condition. Iceland has birds in abundance, but strangely very few mammals, other than Icelandic horses & the odd small herd of reindeer. It was rare to see a cat or dog in Iceland & on our travels we didn’t see a single rabbit or other similar creature.

    Iceland is definitely worth a visit.

    Song of the Day: Your Bones by Of Monsters And Men.
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  • Day10

    Day 10 - Saving the Best for Last

    May 20 in Iceland ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Over breakfast I discovered that my brother, Jonathan’s works boat had docked in Reykjavik the previous day. After breakfast, we packed up & drove out to Skarfabakki Dock, where we found Cable Ship, CS Durable. It is 140 metres long and can carry enough cable to lay between Iceland and Ireland in one go, about 1700 kilometres.

    We then headed out of Reykjavik & picked up Route 1 & drove anti-clockwise back to Hveragerði to visit something I had missed first time round. We parked up at the town’s botanical gardens & walked down to the river to find waterfall, Reykjafoss. It wasn’t particularly big compared to some we have seen on this trip, but it was well formed & we get up close to it without getting wet.

    From Hveragerði we drove south down the 38 to Þorlákshöfn, a small town made of mainly portacabins. We looked round, but couldn’t find anything going for it, so we drove away without taking a single photo.

    We drove west along the 427 which was through an enormous lava field with the sea on our left & vast cliffs on our right. The next stop was Strandarkirkja church in Selvogur (Seal Cove), originally built in the 12th Century. We got out & found the little wooden church was open, so Jackie left a message in the visitors book. We also walked up onto the sea wall to unsurprisingly see seals lying on the rocks in the cove.

    We continued to Grindavík, that again didn’t have much going for it, apart from being a local base to visit the Blue Lagoon. Due to it’s proximity to the Blue Lagoon, Jackie insisted on going for a recce, because we had booked to visit it at 6pm. We were able to sus it all out & we took the opportunity to walk around the walkways on the outside.

    With Jackie now happy, we picked up the 425 to drive around the far south-west corner of Iceland. We stopped at a circular rock pool & blow hole. We got soaked, not by the sea but by the rain.

    I also got out to visit the Bridge between Continents, which is a 15 meter (50 ft) footbridge spanning a rift between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. Jackie sat in the car whilst I got soaked again!

    Next stop was Keflavik International Airport, where Jackie jumped out to reclaim her tax on her new rucksack purchase. I couldn’t stop & didn’t want to pay car parking fees, so I drove around the block & 15 minutes later returned to departures just as Jackie was walking out after a successful mission. About £15 would be credited to her bank card.

    We then drove to Keflavik town for a look round & then checked into the Jazz Hotel. We had an hour to empty the car & repack our rucksacks, before driving back to the Blue Lagoon for our 6pm slot.

    The photos probably paint a better picture of the Blue Lagoon than I can with words. The blue cloudy 9 million litres of geothermal seawater was a warm to hot 38 degrees having travelled up from a depth of 1981 metres. The lagoon totally renews it’s water every 40 hours.

    The changing rooms were probably the most problematic, with signs requesting that everyone shower naked before entering the lagoon. Some showers were in cubicles but others were open plan. Not many men obeyed the rules, but I understand Jackie was surrounded by unabashed naked women.

    In the lagoon we wallowed & applied the free mud mask that was going to nourish & soften our skin like never before. The girl handing out dollops of the white silica mud warned that we should avoid getting mud in our eyes. I immediately wiped the mud into my left eye & it stung like buggery for about 5 minutes whilst I frantically tried to douse it with fresh drinking water.

    We stayed in the lagoon for about 70 minutes, which effectively equates to a pound a minute. It was definitely an overpriced attraction, but very glad that we had experienced ‘1 of the 25 wonders of the world’.

    We returned to our hotel & refreshed with a couple of cold beers we had bought in a Vínbúðin two days earlier. We then rushed out to source some food. We had a choice of pizza, kebab or Thai. We chose pizza & against my better judgement Jackie ordered us the medium sized Volcano Pizza & a large Gull beer each. It was very nice & a pleasant end to our Iceland adventure.

    Song of the Day: Blue Water by Public Image Ltd.
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    Traveler

    I cannot believe that find penguins only message me today, your last day, to say that you were travelling again, but I have had a lovely hour sat catching up on your latest travels. I love reading the blog. Looks like you have had a lovely time. Fantastic scenery. Love to you both . Px

    5/21/22Reply
    Andy and Teresa Mays

    What’s with the Hitler moustache 😂

    5/21/22Reply
     
  • Day9

    Day 9 - Phalluses, Whales & Happy Hour

    May 19 in Iceland ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Again.

    After a decent nights sleep, we struggled to get up & ready at 9.20am for breakfast. For the next 40 minutes we gorged ourselves on toasted rye bread & a selection of preserves, coffee, juice & yoghurt. Probably our best breakfast yet.

    We were soon after heading out for my guided tour of Reykjavik. First stop was Hofdi House, a quaint whitewashed building located along Reykjavik’s scenic waterfront. It is famous for the fact that a major world historical event took place here in 1986 when Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan met & signed a deal to end the Cold War.

    We continued along the waterfront, calling into Harpa for more use of their plush toilets before heading to the Icelandic Phallological Museum, better known as the ‘Penis Museum’. It is unique in that it is the only museum of it’s kind in the world & it had an impressive display of 280 penises from 93 different species of animals including man. It was interesting, but probably more noteworthy for it’s novelty value.

    After, we returned to Harpa, just in time to catch the Hop On Hop Off Bus to the Whales of Iceland Museum in the Grandi Harbour District of Reykjavik. The museum contained life-sized rubber models of 23 whale species that have been seen in Icelandic waters. Included in the entrance fee was a 30 minute audio guided tour of the exhibits. It was an expensive tour for audio content, but the exhibits were particularly impressive.

    We left the museum just before the Hop On Hop Off Bus was scheduled to stop outside, but as we exited the museum, we saw our bus drive straight past several minutes early. Brilliant. We walked around Reykjavik port & arrived at an earlier stop to re-catch our bus, now over the 24 hour period we had paid for.

    We stayed on the bus until we arrived at Hallgrímskirkja, a Lutheran parish church. At 73 metres high (244 ft), it is the largest church in Iceland and among the tallest structures in Iceland. The church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614-1674), author of the Passion Hymns.

    We went inside to what can only be described as a very minimalistic interior. It contained a simple alter, rows of cushioned pews & a huge organ (I’d seen enough of them for one day). Not a stained glass window in sight. Jackie wrote a little message to be read out at the next service.

    After a number of photos, particularly of the impressive spire, we popped into a nearby sculpture garden then headed down to Reykjavik’s Hljómskálagarðurin park, renowned for its birdlife, sculptures, and serenity. Beyond the lake, known as ‘The Pond’ we popped into the City Hall, then made our way back through the Old Town.

    At a shop called 66 Degrees North, Jackie bought an expensive rucksack as her birthday present from me. We are going to try & get reimbursed for the tax, but that will be a drama for another day!

    Having satisfied ourselves that we had seen all we wanted to see in Reykjavik, we returned to our favourite Happy Hour bar to sample more of their half-price wares. We enjoyed 4 pints each of their strong white ale with a slice of orange floating on top.

    Around 7pm, we headed home & stopped off for a ‘traditional’ Icelandic kebab & chips that yet again we shared!!! We then returned back to our hotel for free coffee, biscuits & sweets to end the evening.

    Song of the Day: Happy Hour by The Housemartins.
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    Andy and Teresa Mays

    I dread to think what may be in that message Jax left. Probably something about you smelling the same as the eggs earlier in the trip!! Safe journey home the pair of you!!

    5/20/22Reply
     
  • Day8

    Day 8 - Happy Hour in Reykjavik

    May 18 in Iceland ⋅ 🌧 10 °C

    The night at Héraðsskólinn Historic Guesthouse was a nightmare. The walls were paper thin & we could hear our neighbour gently snoring during the evening.

    Around 1pm, Jackie had hit me 3 times for snoring too loud & told me that the neighbour had banged on the wall. We got dressed & stumbled along the corridor to the toilet.

    The remainder of the night was fitful to say the least, but before 9am we had both sneaked into our respective bathrooms & got showered. We had declined breakfast & by 9.30am we we back on the road again heading south.

    First stop of the day was Kerid Crater. It cost 400 krona to enter & walk around the beautiful volcanic lake. It is 270 metres long, 170 metres wide and 55 metres deep. After we had walked around it we were able walk down into it to the water’s edge.

    Having rejoined Route 1, our next stop was at a cafe & bakery in Hveragerði for coffee & a couple of very tasty rolls to share.

    We then continued along the Ring Road into Reykjavik & arrived at our hotel, 22 Hill Hotel, in the suburb of Holt not long after midday. We were able to park pretty much outside (for free) & our room was available, so we were able to check straight in to what felt like a luxurious room with it’s own bathroom!!

    We booked tickets for the Hop On, Hop Off Bus (Thanks for the tip David), then walked down to Harpa, a concert hall and conference centre on the waterfront, the starting point for the bus tour.

    The bus tour departed at 2pm & lasted an hour & 20 minutes with an informative audio guide. The bus tour took us around the Old Harbour, the Old Town, then out passing the National Museum, Hallgrímskirkja, Perlan (a museum and rotating glass dome that stands on top of Öskjuhlíð Hill), Laugardalsvöllur (Iceland's national football stadium with a capacity of just 9,800) & Höfði House to name just a few sights.

    The bus tour gave us a plan for what we wanted to see & visit in Reykjavik & we started by taking a closer look at Harpa, with it’s distinctive colored glass facade inspired by the basalt landscape of Iceland. We learnt that it’s opening concert was held on May 4, 2011 & it holds FREE concerts on Wednesday & Thursday lunchtimes. There was a poster advertising an up and coming concert by John Grant (already one of the artists for my songs of the day) & Rufus Wainwright. The inside was very impressive in dark grey with an angular glass ceiling. We used their plush toilets.

    We then headed on foot to the Old Town, where we stopped for a shared hotdog on what on the bus tour had described as Europe’s finest fast food joint. It was nothing special, but it was doing a roaring trade. I managed to get tomato sauce all down the front of my jacket.

    We ambled around the Old Town taking in the sights including the decent architecture, which up until now we hadn’t seen on our trip. Most houses & flats in Iceland seem to be just scruffy grey concrete blocks & the remainder are shabby corrugated iron chalets. I did also find an underground Punk Museum.

    Around 5pm, we found ourselves in the Gay Quarter of Reykjavik (I can’t think what gave it away in the photos!) & stopped at a suitable bar called Bravo for a ‘Happy Hour’ beer. Hallelujah, the beers were less than £5 a pint & the atmosphere was good with a mixture of locals & tourists.

    We had 3 pints each of their deliciously strong beer, before tearing ourselves away to hunt for some food. We ended up in a food hall, where we ordered a pizza from the recommended Flatey Pizza stall. We ordered a PADRINO pizza, with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, pickled chiles, honey & basil. It was absolutely divine & we washed it down with 2 non happy hour beers.

    By 8pm, we were back at our hotel & in bed for an early night.

    Song of the Day: Reykjavik by I LIKE TRAINS.
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  • Day7

    Day 7 - The Golden Circle

    May 17 in Iceland ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    During the night we heard a male voice trying to get into our accommodation. So we didn’t have the place to ourselves after all.

    We got up at 8am after a decent nights sleep & had toast & hot chocolate for breakfast. During breakfast the other mysterious guest appeared. He was a 20 something male who was from Switzerland, but originally from Moscow. He was cycling around Iceland on his mountain bike & he weirdly asked me for advice on road conditions in the nearby mountains. Funnily enough I couldn’t help.

    Our first stop of the day was Geysir Hot Spring Area. Accounts from the 19th century mention that the Great Geyser could reach up to 170 meters (558 ft)! After being dormant for years, the Great Geysir was revived by an earthquake in 2000 and erupted for a couple of times a day for several years, but sadly the Great Geysir currently lies dormant.

    Luckily for us, the most active geyser, Strokkur (the Churn) still sprouts hot water as high as 30 meters (100 ft) into the air every few minutes. It gave us the opportunity to see it & in Jackie’s case, film it close up.

    We marched around the area for half an hour or so taking photos & both came to the conclusion that without the Great Geysir, it was a somewhat inferior version of Yellowstone National Park. I’m not complaining because it was free to visit.

    Next stop on the Golden Circle was Gullfoss (Golden Falls) a mesmerising and voluminous two-tiered waterfall. Every second, around 80 cubic metres of water plummet 32 metres into a narrow chasm. It was spectacular & we viewed it from every vantage point available to us.

    It was now lunchtime, so on the way to Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park we stopped at the N1 service station in Laugarvatn. We bought 2 coffees, with an undeclared espresso & a chicken tikka wrap to share.

    We then continued to Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park, a historic site and the 3rd of the big three on the Golden Circle.

    We parked up & walked firstly to Öxarárfoss, a waterfall we could get close up & personal with, then almost a kilometre along a dark narrow canyon to Langistígur. This was the Walk of Death or Execution Trail, where men were beheaded or hanged to death for offences as minor as theft & women were drowned or burnt at the stake for suspected crimes including witchcraft. Seventy two people are known with certainty to have executed here between 1602 & 1750 at place names such as the Drowning Pool, Execution Block Spit, Fire Gorge & Gallows Rock.

    We then walked back south along the park canyon to Alþing (Althing), the site of Iceland's parliament from the 10th to 18th centuries & Lögberg (Law Rock), a rocky outcrop where the laws were made & enforced.

    The park sits in a rift valley caused by the separation of 2 tectonic plates, with rocky cliffs and fissures like the huge Almannagjá fault, which we walked over on a wooden walkway.

    Finally we walked down to Þingvellir church, originally built a 1,000 years ago to celebrate Iceland’s conversion to Christianity. Beside it is Iceland’s National Cemetery with the graves of some famous Icelandic poets and a house that we discovered was the summer residence of the Icelandic prime minister.

    We returned to Duster & drove back to Laugarvatn, where we had booked accommodation in the Héraðsskólinn Historic Guesthouse at a very reasonable price. It once was a girls boarding school & in one of the rooms, Halldór Laxness, Iceland’s Nobel prize winning writer wrote his most famous book Independent People in Room 12 on the 3rd floor of the building. Now despite retaining all it’s furniture & artefacts, it is now nothing short of a hostel. We had to take our boots off before entering the building & we definitely have a shared bathroom. The men have just one shower in a room with a lock, whilst apparently the ladies have 2 showers divided by a privacy curtain & no lock on the door.

    We enquired about dinner and was informed the chef would be in to serve up a lamb dish at 8pm. We decided to check out Lindin Bistro Cafe, that was highly recommended in the Lonely Planet guidebook & by our receptionist. We both ordered the reindeer burger with chips & an accompanying beer & glass of house wine. It was very pleasant, but as Jackie pointed out it was still just a burger & the bill was around £60.

    We returned to the hostel, through a cloud of midges that had appeared due to the sunny still evening & retired to our room for the night.

    Song of the Day: Vanity by New Model Army.
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    Andy and Teresa Mays

    Wide angle on that phone?

    5/19/22Reply
    Andy and Teresa Mays

    😂

    5/19/22Reply
     
  • Day6

    Day 6 - Walking our socks off.

    May 16 in Iceland ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    We got up at 8am & got ready in our very basic, but so far most expensive room. We went to breakfast 45 minutes later timing it just right to avoid the Adventures including our American chum who was just leaving. We did our best to get our money’s worth of the buffet breakfast which was adequate, but not exceptional.

    Our 1st stop of the day was just up the road, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, described as a darkly picturesque canyon, carved out by the Fjaðrá river. It is particularly popular, thanks to it being the location for Justin Bieber’s video for his song, ‘I’ll Show You’. It was a kilometre walk along a trail on the southern side of the 100 metre deep canyon & then a kilometre back with plenty of excellent viewpoints. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip so far.

    Our next stop was a viewpoint in a Moss Heath. Basically Route 1 had taken us through the middle of a massive rock field that was covered in green moss that gave it a strange furry look & feel.

    We continued to Vik, the most southerly & rainiest town in Iceland. It lived up to it’s reputation & the wind was quite frankly violent. It took all our might to hang on to Duster’s doors when we got out. We found an Ice Wear Superstore & went for a browse. Jackie took fancy to a black puffa jacket, that looked too similar to her blue Rab & walking boots, costing over £200. I fancied an Icelandic wool jumper, but the cost of £154 eventually persuaded me not to get it. We left with nothing other than a couple of postcards.

    Before leaving Vik, we had a coffee, then located the Voyagers Friendship Statue, a monument wishing safe return of the people who work at sea. It is situated on the black sand beach & looks out at the jagged dramatic rock formations of Reynisdrangar.

    The Voyagers Friendship Statue apparently had a sister monument in Hull, UK, but it was stolen for scrap metal. You couldn’t make it up!

    We drove a further 6 miles down the road & to Reynisfjara Beach, notorious for it’s ‘Sneaker Waves’ making it the most deadliest beach in Iceland. Waves regularly drag people into the water often with fatal consequences, the last being the drowning of a Chinese woman in November 2021. Despite being battered by the wind, we braved it on to the dangerous black beach to examine close up the basalt column rock formations.

    Thinking we had done our exercise for the day, we continued west along Route 1 until we came to Sólheimasandur, where we saw 30 plus cars parked up. It was the car park for the walk to US Navy Douglas DC-3 that crash landed on the beach. We had dismissed visiting it, because guidebooks estimated it to be a 3-4 hour round trip to the plane wreck.

    Due to large number of cars we stopped to investigate & read that it was only just over 4 miles to walk there and back. We uhmmed & aahed, before I made the decision we would walk it. We set off on our wind swept glacial outwash plain to the fuselage carcass. It did look like something out of a sci-fi movie. After the obligatory photos, we route marched back, into the battering side & now slight head wind, with Jackie drafting behind me. We returned to the car having completed the 4.52 mile round trip in just 85 minutes!

    Further along the Ring Road, we found Skógafoss waterfall, which is 62 metres high & 32 metres wide. The beauty of Skógafoss was that you could walk up the valley to the base of the falls or as close as you wanted before you were saturated. Jackie chose to admire the falls from afar, while I took the walk for a few obligatory photos. There was an opportunity to climb up a path to look down on the falls, but I just couldn’t face it.

    Next stop was Seljalandsfoss waterfall, which was probably the most impressive to date, helped by the fact that the sun had come out for the day & temperatures had risen to a positively balmy 17 degrees. Seljalandsfoss is also 62 metres high, but has the added advantage of you being able to walk behind it. I courageously did, whilst Jackie watched in awe!

    After another memorable day, we headed for our night’s accommodation, but with a detour to pick up some provisions. We stopped at Hella, where we found a Vínbúðin, the state controlled liquor store, which are the only places to buy takeout booze in Iceland. We picked up a bottle of Captain Morgan’s Rum & discovered it was £54 a bottle. Instead we settled on 6 cans of Icelandic beer at just £2-3 per can. We also bought a microwaveable lasagna & Spag Bol together with garlic bread for our evening dinner.

    We arrived at South Central Guesthouse just after 6pm & discovered that we were the sole guests in the 8 bedroomed chalet. We are very pleased because for the 1st time on this trip, we had a shared bathroom. This was quite a surprise, because the closer we have got to the southwest corner of Iceland it has got noticeably busier with damn tourists.

    Song of the Day: I’ll Show You by Justin Bieber.
    (Contrary to my better judgment).
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  • Day5

    Day 5 - Glaciers & Icebergs

    May 15 in Iceland ⋅ ☁️ 8 °C

    Our room at Eyjar Fishing Lodge was so hot that we had to have the window open all night. I was awoken at 5am by the pleasant sound of waders (not fishermen’s boots) singing.

    By 7.30am we were making breakfast of coffee & toast in the hunting lounge. An hour later we were packing up the Duster when the owner appeared from his cottage attached to the lodge.

    He was in his 40’s, had dark lank greasy hair & an ill-fitting tracksuit that emphasised his moobs & belly. He was a real life Jack Torrance from The Shining. We thanked our lucky stars that we had survived the night. Jack informed us that the roads to the east & north were snowed in. Luckily we we were heading west & as we drove off all we could hear was “Here’s Johnny” ringing in our ears.

    Before we had rejoined Route 1, we chanced upon a flock of reindeer, the 1st we had seen in Iceland. We continued west around the Ring Road & took a very minor detour to Djúpivogur to see their ‘famous’ public art installation Eggin í Gleðivík. It was 34 underwhelming oversized eggs sitting along the harbour wall, each representing the 34 local bird species. The highlight in the town was another herd of reindeer relaxing on the town’s football field.

    We continued along the Ring Road towards Hofn on what was undoubtedly the most spectacular scenery we had seen so far on the trip. Green & black majestic mountains with cascading waterfalls on the right side of the road & black sand beaches on the left.

    We arrived in the nondescript town of Hofn & bought some provisions in Netto & fuel, because there would be no petrol stations for the next 200 kilometres. Fully refreshed & stocked up we returned to Route 1 & continued west.

    Not too far down the road, we spotted the tongue of a glacier, Hoffellsjökull. The signpost told us that it was a 4.5 kilometres drive to the glacier lake. Unfortunately 4 kilometres were over a rocky lichen field with just a partial track to follow. We eventually arrived at the glacier & unsurprisingly we were the only ones there. We took a few photos, then picked our way back to Route 1.

    Relieved to have rejoined the Ring Road without a puncture or damage, we put our foot down to the Glacier Lagoon at Jökulsárlón. The moment you pull into the car park your eyes are immediately drawn to the staggering beauty of the icebergs drifting in the lagoon. We wandered along the shoreline mesmerised by the sight & the seals swimming around them.

    Glacier Lagoon facts : The lagoon is 248 metres deep making it the deepest lake in Iceland & the surface area is 18 square kilometres. The icebergs are composed of ice over 1,000 years old.

    After marvelling at the icebergs, we shared a hotdog then returned to the car & drove across the road to Diamond Beach. The name needs no explanation as chunks of glistening icebergs were washed up on the shore’s black sand.

    Having felt like we had witnessed something quite special, we continued west to Skaftafell, a part of the larger Vatnajökull National Park. We parked in the car park & attempted to pay for a park parking ticket, but after 20 minutes we had still been unsuccessful, so we gave up & will risk the consequences.

    After getting our bearings at the Information Centre, we chose to walk up to Svartifoss (Black Falls) described as a stunning moody-looking waterfall flanked by geometric basalt columns. It was a 3.8 kilometre round trip up & down a mountain, but the bleak beauty of Svartifoss made it well worth the trip.

    Returning to Duster, we had a final hours drive to our accommodation for the night, Adventure Hotel Geirland. Upon arrival we took advantage of the Happy Hour with a beer. On the downside, we unwittingly engaged in conversation with an American ‘Adventurer’ who had a bald head covered in tattoos. He looked like a white supremacist who wouldn’t think twice about conducting a mass killing spree. He told us that he couldn’t imagine what the UK was like & he had some very disparaging opinions about Icelandic women that he shared with his fellow Adventurer diners. To top it all we overheard him order a Caprice salad starter, followed by mains of the beef burger & the lamb shank. Greedy bastard!!!

    We returned to our basic room for crackers & cheese & a couple of G&Ts.

    Song of the Day: Glacier by John Grant.
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    Andy and Teresa Mays

    You tease!!

    5/19/22Reply
     
  • Day4

    Day 4 - Puffin Hunting

    May 14 in Iceland ⋅ 🌧 4 °C

    We had a lie in this morning, probably something to so with the consumption of nearly a litre of rum the previous evening. After an eggy smelling shower & breakfast, we set out around 10.30am heading for Borgarfjörður Eystri just 46 miles away up the 94. We were rattling along at a fair old lick, when suddenly we hit an unmade road & roadworks, that slowed us right down, especially as they lasted for 10 miles.

    Towards the end of this particular journey, the route took us through a blizzard over a snow covered mountain then it dropped down to the coastal hamlet of Borgarfjörður Eystri in the Eastfjords. We drove a further 3 miles on until we reached Hafnarhólmi, a small harbour, but also home to the star attraction, a large colony of about 15.000 puffins.

    Apparently Puffins spend the winter at sea & return to their burrows at the beginning of May. We had no idea if the Puffins had returned yet, but we took our binoculars in the hope that they had.

    We didn’t need the binoculars, the Puffins were literally feet away from us. It was absolutely amazing to see so many Puffins so close & it was both our first time of seeing wild Puffins. They were going about their business, fishing & popping in & out of their burrows, without taking the slightest notice of the half dozen tourists training cameras on them. The nesting kittiwakes & fulmars didn’t get a look in.

    Puffin facts: The oldest known Puffin lived to 41 years old, they can fly as fast as 88 kph & dive to depths of 60 metres.

    After about half an hour of snapping away & marvelling at the little creatures, we returned to the car & drove back to Borgarfjörður Eystri to take a photo of Lindarbakki, the world’s hairiest house. We then drove all the way back the way we had come, then on the outskirts of Egilsstaðir we turned left on to the 93.

    It took us over another snowcapped mountain and down into what Lonely Planet described as the super-picturesque town of Seyðisfjörður. We strongly disagree, a few brightly coloured houses do not make ‘super-picturesque’. The biggest surprise was that the Silver Whisper cruise ship was now docked in the port. We found the photogenic Rainbow Street & the blue church at one end for a quick photo.

    We then drove back to Egilsstaðir & stopped at the Netto Discount Store for a coffee & a pastry which we sat & ate whilst we made a decision on where to stay that night. We settled on Eyjar Fishing Lodge just over an hour’s drive away further round the Route 1 Ring Road.

    The route followed the coastline around the south eastern corner of Iceland. We passed through Stöðvarfjörður, famous for it’s geology & some old dear’s rock collection. At the end of the fjord was a super cute bird hide. I braved the elements without a coat to take a closer look.

    We arrived at Eyjar Fishing Lodge around 6pm, which lives up to it’s name. Stuffed fish & wildlife adorn the walls of the lounge that looks out over Breiðdalur (wide valley) & the Breiðdalsá river. Despite there being 14 rooms, we had the place to ourselves. Jackie cooked us Heinz spaghetti on toast, then we retired to our room to watch the Eurovision Song Contest on Icelandic TV.

    Song of the Day: Hunter by Björk.
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  • Day3

    Day 3 - Good God, It’s Godafoss

    May 13 in Iceland ⋅ ⛅ 2 °C

    Today we were treated to breakfast included in the price of our overnight stay. We did our best to make the most of it, with freshly cooked scrambled eggs & bacon, followed by toast with jam & Nutella, followed by pastries, cheese & some fruit, as well as 3 cups of coffee each. We waddled out.

    Before our 1st scheduled stop we drove down to the port to get a close up look at the cruise ship, Silver Whisper, that had docked during the night.

    We then drove to Akureyri’s Botanical Garden, Lystigarður Akureyrar, which is 50 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle, which makes it the most northerly botanical gardens in the world & it also happens to be Iceland’s first public park. The trouble with it being so northerly is that all the plants and signage were covered in snow. We had a quick march round & returned to our Duster.

    We picked up the Route 1 Ring Road & followed it clockwise until we reached a toll to take us through a tunnel under a mountain. We took the alternative cheaper scenic Highways 83 & 84 around the mountain. When we returned to Route 1 it was just a short drive before we arrived at Godafoss.

    Godafoss can be read as either “waterfall of the goð (pagan idols)" or "waterfall of the goði (chieftain)." Either way it is an attractive looking waterfall where the water of the river Skjálfandafljót falls from a height of 12 metres over a width of 30 metres. We walked the 1.8-mile hiking trail loops around the waterfall area & took photos from most angles. It was again bitterly cold & I was grateful for my gloves & new woolly hat.

    We then headed north on the 85 through lava fields to Húsavík, once a whaling town that now concentrates on whale sightseeing tours. Apparently it is the only place in the world where Blue Whales can be spotted from the shore. We didn’t see one. Instead we visited the town’s Whale Museum which we particularly liked for it’s extensive display of genuine whale skeletons including a Blue Whale, unlike London’s Natural History Museum! The museum had a interesting documentary about whale wisdom, narrated by David Attenborough, but after 45 minutes it was still going, so we left.

    After refuelling, over 9,000 krona, we headed back south down the 87 to Mývatn, a 14 square mile nutrient rich volcanic lake that provides a habitat for more duck species than anywhere else in the world. We drove around the lake, but mainly saw just Greylag geese, which have a population of around 60,000 in Iceland.

    The Mývatn Basin sits squarely on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge & the violent geographical nature of the area has created a weird landscape, including pseudo-craters & basalt columns.

    Having circumnavigated the lake we rejoined Route 1 & very soon chanced upon the alien landscape of Námafjall. At this area, also known as Hverir, we were able to walk around the many smoking fumaroles and boiling mud pots, surrounded by sulphur crystals of different colours. Unfortunately the sulphur gave off a stomach churning smell of rotten egg. After a few photos & a video we were glad to get back in the Duster.

    We then drove for the next couple of hours eastwards along Route 1 towards our destination of Fellabær. It was quite a long slog, but the journey was relieved by a short walk up to the impressive 139 metre high Rjúkandi waterfall for a photo opportunity.

    Around 6.30pm, we arrived at our accommodation in Fellabær that looks exactly like a scout hut, but is situated on the shore of Lake Lagarfjlót. Lake Lagarfjlót is 25km long, but just 2.5km across at it’s widest & according to legend, it is said to hold a beast called the Lagarfljót Wyrm, a cousin of the Loch Ness Monster. Lagarfjlót Wyrm has been spoken about since 1345.

    Fellabær appeared to be purely residential, so we drove across the lake to the larger town of Egilsstaðir & bought some provisions in a Netto Discount Store for our tea. Back at our scout hut, we used the communal kitchen & seating area to heat up our pretty flavourless microwave meals. I had ham & mushroom pasta, whilst Jackie had a Thai chicken curry.

    In the communal area were an old couple that didn’t speak other than grudgingly said hello when I forced them & seemed annoyed at us banging around the place. Two younger foreign couples arrived during the evening, but apart from the usual pleasantries we didn’t converse with them.

    Jackie & I were the last to bed, having consumed the majority of a litre bottle of Captain Morgan’s dark rum & having planned the following days itinerary.

    We drove 356 kilometres today.

    Song of the Day: God & Monsters by Lana Del Rey.
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  • Day2

    Day 2 - A Day of Driving (Snow, Sleet…….

    May 12 in Iceland ⋅ 🌧 0 °C

    And Rain).

    Woke up at 5.00am after a decent nights sleep & wrote my blog that I had started the night before & accidentally published.

    After getting ready, I went down to get a couple of coffees & the owner gave me today’s weather forecast “Shiddy”. Apparently it was going to remain shitty until Saturday. After packing & loading up, we said our goodbyes & drove down to the port & parked up.

    We scaled the steps & foot path to Súgandisey Lighthouse, where we were battered by gale-force horizontal sleet. A couple of quick photos at the top was about all we could manage of the Denmark Strait & back towards Stykkishólmur.

    After being blown back down to the car, we drove to a bakery for a breakfast of pizza & pastries, then we filled up with 5,000 Icelandic Krona worth of fuel at a Q8 garage, where we had a fob to get some discount.

    We then set off to our destination, Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest city & the capital of the north. The SatNav wanted to take us back the way we had come yesterday to get back on to the Route 1 Ring Road, but I thought I knew better.

    We headed back down Highway 58, but turned off left on to Highway 54, which was an unmade road. My shortcut was a 30 mile trek along the unmade road hugging the northern shore of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, which would have been okay, but snow was settling on the road and we were being buffeted by the wind.

    Over an hour later, we sighed with relief, that we hadn’t punctured, when we turned left on to Highway 60, but before long we had turned onto the mountain pass known as Highway 59. The road was again unmade, but driving conditions were deteriorating and snow drifts were forming on the road.

    After an age we reached Highway 68 & drove south through Borðeyri until we eventually reached the Route 1 Ring Road. We followed the Ring Road clockwise, until we arrived at Blönduós. Annoyingly we missed visiting Kolugljufur waterfall that had been on my itinerary. Jackie had been in charge of the directions at that time. Just saying!

    In Blönduós we filled up with 10,000 Icelandic Krona worth of more fuel & stopped at a service station for a coffee & a toastie. I also bought an authentic Icelandic woollen hat as my souvenir of Iceland.

    After this pit stop, our route took us up the 74, then the snow covered 744 to our next stop of Sauðárkrókur, where we were expecting to see some brightly painted houses. We eventually found the street in question & let’s just say it was a scruffy disappointment!

    We swiftly moved on & picked up Highway 76 that skirts around the mountainous Tröllaskagi Peninsula, where many of the mountains are in excess of 1000 metres high. The guidebook described our coastal route as ‘only for those with a penchant for getting off the beaten track’, but the 186 km route would provide magical scenery. Perfect!

    We stopped at Hofsós, famous for it’s infinity swimming pool & adjacent ‘Hot-Pot’ on the cliff. After a quick photo we commenced our off the beaten track drive. Very quickly the driving conditions got worse with driving snow battering the Duster as the windy road clung to the bottom of the mountains. Occasionally we could see the choppy fjord at the bottom of the cliffs almost waiting for us to skid off into it. Every so often we saw groups of Icelandic horses, which this region is famous for, huddled together in the fields. Otherwise everything was just a whiteout. So much for the magical scenery!

    Finally we reached Iceland’s most northerly mainland town of Siglufjordhur, which is just 28 miles from the Arctic Circle. It once was a bustling town employing 10,000 Herring Fish workers, but now it apparently attracts tourists for the hiking & scenery, as well as being the film set for an Icelandic TV murder series, Trapped.

    We didn’t stop, but drove through two long mountain tunnels to get to the seemingly busy town of Ólafsfjörður, which stunk of fish. We took a photo of the indoor swimming pool. The guidebook described it as ‘beautifully locked between mountain & fjord’ and due to lack of visibility we’ll just have to take it’s word for that.

    We left Ólafsfjörður via another mountain tunnel & travelled south at ever increasing speeds as the road conditions improved. We passed through Dalvík & I was able to put my foot down. The maximum speed limit in Iceland is 90 kph, but I was ‘racing along’ at over 110 kph, when I got flashed by a police officer driving the other way. I consider this to be a badge of honour!

    We arrived at Akureyri just after 6pm & parked up on the street near to the Centrum Guesthouse. It was a relief to stretch the legs after an 8 hour drive over a distance of 445 kilometres.

    We checked into the guest house, dumped our rucksacks & went downstairs to the Centrum Kitchen & Bar for an expensive, but well deserved Arctic Circle White Beer. We ordered dinner of Langoustine Soup for Jackie, while I had the rack of pork ribs & we shared a portion of truffle chips. We could have done without the chips, but the pork ribs were gorgeously melt in the mouth & sparrow appetite Jackie nearly ate all of her soup! It was an excellent meal & the busy restaurant had a nice ambience.

    By 9pm we were again truly knackered & out like a light.

    Song of the Day: The Road is Dark and Snowed by Jesse Marchant.
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    Traveler

    I could have sworn I mentioned those main roads (on the map), that turn out to. D gravel tracks! 😂 But they can be a great way to explore! Have fun 🤩

    5/13/22Reply
    Traveler

    Excellent..

    5/13/22Reply
    Andy and Teresa Mays

    The bloke behind looks happy! You eating half a reindeer fat boy?

    5/13/22Reply
    Traveler

    I’m shivering 🥶 just reading about the weather x

    5/14/22Reply