Traveling Nancy

Traveling around the world as far as I can go.

June 16th – Iceland


After trading camper vans on the road, we went to the campsite in Borgarnes. More of the camper van saga:  It was very late when I climbed in to go to bed. I realized that the sliding doors in the back of the new van did not open from the inside.  Elaine was very stressed about our safety in we had to get out fast.  So again I called the 24 hour  help line again.  They said they would get back to me in the morning.  Elaine cracked open the door on her side and we went to sleep.

We made the decision to not go to the West Fjords when we realized that we really wanted at least 7 days out there.  I guess I will have to come back to Iceland.

By 8:30 in the morning the camper van people had not called back so I tried again and they said they would work on a solution.  So we took off for  our day.  It was a beautiful morning drive.  We both loved this farm.

Our first stop was in Blönduós where we stopped to take photos of an old church.

I read the sign near the church and learned that it had been consecrated in January of 1895.  For many years the church was heated with coal.  I read that it had a fine chandelier which came from the cathedral in Reykjavik…


…and a clock that dated back to 1833 and taken from an older church.  It was  no longer used as a place of worship after 1993.

Elaine and I opened the door to see the inside of a church and quickly realized that it wasn’t a church.  We thought it could be an office or maybe somebody even lived there.

Before we left town we were asking a woman who was passing by about the church and the town.  Just then a man walked up and she told us that he owned the church, lived there, and would likely invite us in to tell us about it.  What a treat.  His name is Sveinn M. Sveinsson and he bought the church to renovate it into a place to rent to tourists.  He does documentaries about Iceland and his company is called Plus Film.  I asked him to show me the clock and was a bit confused when he showed me this bell.

That is when I learned that clock is a word for a church bell.  It was a really cool church bell.

We had so much fun talking with Sveinn.  His last name is Sveinnson because his father’s name was also Sveinn.  That is how names in Iceland work.  Encounters like this are the very best part of traveling.  He looked at the map with us and gave us ideas for the best route to take.  

So instead of taking Highway 1 and instead went through Sauðárourkár on our way to see the turf houses.  What a beautiful drive.

The abandoned house were fun to photograph.

I loved watching the horseback rider riding his horse near the road.

The turf houses were pretty commercial because they wanted us to pay to explore the inside of them, but they were actually authentic houses.

From the front:

From the back:


We decided not to pay to take the tour but did get to see what some of the rooms had looked like used long ago.


People lived in Glaumbær turf house until 1947. A farm has stood on this site since the settlement of Iceland in ca 874 – give or take a few years. The present farmhouse consists of 13 buildings and the “newest” addition to the turf house was built in 1876-1879. The oldest parts of the turf house is from the mid 18th century.

Turf Houses: In 1947 Glaumbær was declared as a conserved site and is now owned by the National Museum of Iceland. It has been run as a museum by the Skagafjörður Heritage Museum since 1952. If you visit the Glaumbær turf house and have a look inside you can see how life in Iceland was back in the 18th and 19th century.

Glaumbær is quite a historic farm as here lived Snorri Þorfinnsson and his parents in the 11th century (around 1010). Snorri is probably the first European to be born in America while his parents were on exploration there long before Columbus discovered America.

I called the camper van people again and the manager was not very happy.  I told them that they needed to change campers with us again.  He wanted to know were we were going for the night and when I told him that our destination was Akureyri, he said it was 5 hours from Reykjavik.  We had quite a conversation and I told him that we just didn’t want to sleep in a van where we couldn’t get out quickly in the middle of the night.  He said it would be 1:00 am before he could get somebody there and I said, “Okay.”

We headed off to Hosfós. It was another beautiful drive through this amazing country.

Hofsós is a small community lying on the east of Skagafjörður fiord. In days gone by this was the main service centre for the region and is one of the oldest trading posts in Iceland still in existence.  We went by the Icelandic Emigration Center which tells the story of Icelandic emigrants to North America but didn’t take time to go through it.

 I took a couple of photos of the harbour.

We stopped for a moment at the he restaurant Sólvík to tell a friend of Sveinn that he said, “Hello.”  She gave me a hug.

The Hofsós swimming pool is quite simply magnificent. Some think it is the most beautiful swimming pool in Iceland.  It was designed by the same architect responsible for the famous Blue Lagoon. It may not be Olympic size, but because it has been built into the hillside above the sea, the views over to Drangey are breathtaking. The vista from the pool were a combination of marvelous different shades of blue; the clear blue color of the swimming pool itself, the green-blue sea, the dark blue of the islands and mountains in the distance.  The clouds in the sky when we were there were fantastic.

What an absolutely fantastic place to be.

I bought my first ice-cream bar on the way out of the pool.  When we got back into the camper I saw that the camper van people had called.  He was on his way and would be in Akureyri by 10:00.  So we had to get going to make it in time.

We went through Dalvík which is the main village of the Icelandic municipality of Dalvíkurbyggð. Its population is approximately 1,400. The town’s name means “valley bay.”

The views after Dalvík  were so incredible.  

We couldn’t believe the clouds over the water.

What a drive.

From Dalvík to Akureyri we had to drive through 4 tunnels which cut through the mountains.  The 1st one was one lane wide and 800 meters long.  The 2nd one was 2 lanes wide and 3 km long.  What a surprise to go through the 3rd one which was 2 lanes wide but 7 (yes 7) km long.  The last was one lane wide and 3.4 km long.  The people coming towards us were the ones who had to pull off each time because the pull offs were on their side.


Coming out of the last tunnel.

One funny thing is the monitors that tell you how fast you are driving.  When we were going too fast, there was a frown on a face but when you were going the correct speed, we got a smiley face.  How cute is that?

We were almost to Akureyri when we saw the other camper van.  We met up with him at the gas station and each of us filled the tank in the camper we were driving.  Then we switched over all of our stuff again.  We had to go to a place where his friend worked to fix the refrigerator because it wouldn’t open properly.  This whole saga makes the Camper Go company and their campers sound horrible, but actually they were quite accommodating.  It would have been better if they would have explain how the heater and batteries work before we ever started out.  It turns out that I may have drained the battery myself by charging my computer as I was blogging even though I had the motor running.   I just had to take a photo of the manager before we left.

It was about midnight when we headed out to the south of town to the campsite that Sveinn recommended. It was in the area called Kjarnaskógur and the campsite was called Hamnar.  We owe Sveinn another thanks for recommending this campsite.

Author: Nancy Panitch

Traveling has been a passion of Nancy Panitch's life and she loves seeing how people in other cultures live. Her travels have taken her to many places within the United States, Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa. Being around people inspires her and she has much gratitude for the kindred Souls that are joining together with her in body, mind, and heart. She moved from Chicago to Portland, Oregon in 1982. It was one of the best decisions of her life. While in Portland she stays very, VERY busy. She volunteers (Inter-Religious Action Network, Human Rights Council, & ushering for various theaters); attends a Unitarian Universalist church; goes hiking with groups (Cascade Prime Timers & Trails Club of Oregon) and also with individual friends. Book groups, movie group, and bridge groups occupy her time as well. Her quiet activities include yoga, knitting, Sudoku, and reading. She enjoys all of these activities, but making time to see her wonderful 4 grandchildren takes priority over it all. She is happy to share this blog and hopes to encourage others to travel.

4 thoughts on “June 16th – Iceland

  1. Pictures are great,you look good too.


  2. It all sounds like a lot of fun. Bummer about the camper van troubles, but guess it could be worse. Somehow it adds to your story making it that much more interesting. Besides, you are an intrepid traveler, and you just won’t let it get you down. 😄

    Sent from my iPhone



  3. Beeeeutiful landscape! Ingenious houses. Makes sense.


  4. What a journey! The camper people so accommodating, and the skies so embracing.
    (Nancy, Rosie is o.k. she has the support of her sons and our community too.)


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