Traveling Nancy

Traveling around the world as far as I can go.


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June 21st – Iceland

This morning we drove up to Laugarfell.  Most of the road was gravel and wound up many switchbacks.  There were beautiful from the road, but it was very rainy.

At Laugarfell there are two natural hot springs which give the place its name. The view from the pools is beautiful and in the distance we should have been able to see Mount Snæfell but the mountain was socked in the clouds. Old sayings claim the water in the springs have healing powers.

The first pool is larger and just under 100 degrees.

The smaller pool is at about 104 or 105 degrees.  That one was my favorite.


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It felt like I could just relax there for hours.  But even with the short time I was there, I had raised my body temperature to the point of being a little dizzy.  In hind-site it would have been great to stay in the lodge there.  That way we could have used the hot pots many times and perhaps the weather would have cleared a bit in the night.

When we were leaving they were cleaning the hot-pots which was going to take 2 hours.  Just another example of how lucky Elaine and I are with are timing (not because of good planning- just pure luck).  Icelanders do not plan ahead very much.  They just  look at the weather.  We can’t control the weather because of our time limits, but we are behaving like Icelanders and just going going with the flow.

On the way back to town to stock up on food supplies (although we actually eat surprisingly little) we stopped to do a hike up to a waterfall.  It was a longer hike than we expected but the rewards were outstanding.

Hengilfoss is one of the highest waterfalls in Iceland 450 meters above sea level and drops into a beautiful gorge.  Hengifossárgljüfur.   A special feature of the rock layers in the gorge surrounding the waterfall is the layers of red clay sandwiched between layers of basalt.  Lower in the gorge beneath the waterfall there are interesting sedimentary rocks about 100 m thick.  The upper layers of tree trunks and branches and other traces of plants occur.

The gorge becomes narrow and shallow below Sellækir, deepening again at Lilanes and broadening into an amphitheater of basalt columns (stðlaberg) that frames the 30 meter high waterfall known as Litlanesfoss or Stuónarhraun (viewing rock” consisting of mainly basalt columns.

The entire canyon was spectacular.  On the way up the path I noticed some sheep hanging out by a small waterfall.

There was one just balancing as it crossed the rock.

We came to the basalt columns first and Litlanesfoss first.

I think I read that the curve in the top of the basalt pillars was caused by the lava becoming cooler.

Walking back into the canyon up to Hengilfoss was so spectacular.  As I walked closer to the falls the rocks were pretty slippery.

Two girls took my photo after I took theirs.

I had walked as far as I could safely.

I loved these sheep that were standing and watching the road but they couldn’t cross the grating.

Their wool was sopping wet.


After our shopping at Bonus we started on our way again.   We had been advised to get off of Highway 1 and took the fjord roads.  It was beautiful in the rain but not too conducive for photography.  Elaine did a fabulous job driving around each fjord as I did the navigating.

We decided to stop in Höfn (pronounced Hop – like you are having a quick hick-up) for the night. Höfn is an Icelandic fishing town in the southeastern part of the country. It lies near Hornafjörður fjord. The town, the second largest in the southeastern part of Iceland, would have offered  scenic views of Vatnajökull if it had not been raining.   We decided to go out for dinner and that was a wonderful choice.  The lobster salad with garlic dressing at Z Bistro was absolutely delicious.  Peppers and tomatoes have been our salad fixings, so a real salad was a treat – aside from loving lobster.

Time for bead at about midnight without even posting on my blog.  I am now 2 more days behind.


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June 20th – Iceland

Elaine and I went back out to Hafnarhólmi to see the Puffins again this morning.  I was surprised to see the Hurtigruten ship out in the Borgarfjörður.  It was the Spitsbergen.

All of the people on the ship were wearing red jackets.  Seeing the Hurtigruten through my memory back to being on the FRAM in Antarctica.By the time we got there many of the passengers went into town on a bus.  It was nice to have a couple of the expedition guides out there with us so we could ask them questions.

Of course, I took a few more photos of Puffins.

 

I love when they open their wings.

And I did one more video of a single Puffin turning his/her head back and forth.

We stayed out there for a long time. Elaine spent some time asking the Hurtigruten marine biologist questions about puffins.  I could watch Puffins for hours and hours.  It reminded me of how much I loved watching the penguins in Antarctica.

On our way back to town I asked a workman what they were building near the dock.  He said that it would be a 3 story building.  The bottom floor would be for the boat people; the second floor for the tourists; and the 3rd floor for a restaurant.  Horrible.  We have heard that Iceland is expecting 3 million visitors this year.  Yikes!  One of the things that Elaine and I are so enjoying is the lack of people on the roads.  Aside from our own pleasure, there are several other reasons that this is a problem.

  • Iceland does not have the infrastructure (campgrounds, pull outs along the roads, restroom facilities) ready for that many people
  • People are already camping illegally along the side of the road wherever they want to stop.  This is against the law but not enforced.  Perhaps because there are not many law enforcement people around.
  • Most importantly the environment of Iceland.  People walk where ever they want to go.  They don’t seem to understand the fragility of the landscape.
  • There are not enough hotels and who wants more hotels anyway.

After we dragged ourselves away from the puffins, we took a walk through town to see the sights and take photos.

 

Naddi, a monster who lived in Njarðvik Screes, is an animal below the waist and human above, His home was in a cave and from there he came to kill travellers after dark. He was eventually cast into the ocean by a strong man in Borgarfjörður. The man erected a cross in the screes to “Get God’s protection,” This is a photo of the cross and the sign. The inscription is in Latin and reads, “Bow down and revere this effigy of Christ, who you pass by. Anno MCCVI (1306)

Elaine noticed that Stella was working on the outside of her turf house.  We went back over to say, “Hi” again.  I asked her about the cellar.  The young workman explained what I meant to her and she took us back into the house and opened the trap door to the cellar.

Stella tried to tell me (in Icelandic) where the light switch was.  So I got down on the floor to reach for it.

I had to use my phone to search for it.

I was showing Stella how I was pushing the button to turn it on.

No matter how many times I pushed it, it wouldn’t turn on the light.  So I went down into the cellar in the dark.

Flash photography didn’t really work.  It was very small and dry.  So back up I came.  I think that Stella was telling us that they stored vegetables down there, but I am not sure.  So we just took another photo with Stella.

We walked by this sculpture.

Here is the story that goes with it.  Naddi, a monster who lived in Njarðvik Screes, is an animal below the waist and human above, His home was in a cave and from there he came to kill travellers after dark. He was eventually cast into the ocean by a strong man in Borgarfjörður. The man erected a cross in the screes to “Get God’s protection,” This is a photo of the cross and the sign. The inscription is in Latin and reads, “Bow down and revere this effigy of Christ, who you pass by. Anno MCCVI (1306).

We walked through through the town and checked out the pub and some guest houses.  I really think this home is cute.


Then we checked out the fish factory.  The men were getting the lines ready with bate.

They were working very fast.

Borgarfjörður  is known for stories of elves and spirits. A large rock is situated near the village. It is called Álfaborg (Elf Rock) and the fjord derives its name from it. This is the residence of Borghildur, queen of the Icelandic elves. Many myths revolve around her, other inhabitants of the rock and their interactions with humans.

Both of us wanted to eat the fish soup (Fiskisúpa)again so we went back to Alfa Cafe and hung out for a while.  I love that fish soup and could eat it every day.  I bought some more banana bread with chocolate and we left Borgarfjörður and drove towards Seyðisfjörður.

First we went back to Egilsstaðir to fill up the gas tank.  It will be interesting to find out how much money the gasoline has cost on this trip.

Then we drove over Fjarðarheiði mountain pass 27 kilometres to Seyðisfjörður which is surrounded by mountains with the most prominent Mt. Bjólfur to the west (1085m) and Strandartindur (1010m) to the east. The fjord itself is accessible on each side from the town, by following the main road that leads through the town.

Here are the rest of the photos from today.

This rock is a stuðlaberg.  It has been moved to this spot an put into concrete.

Settlement in Seyðisfjörður traces back to the early period of settlement in Iceland. The first settler was Bjólfur, who occupied the entire fjord. The burned down ruin of a staf church at Þórunnarstaðir has been carbon-dated to the 10th century, with earlier graves exhumed dating back to the 8th century.

This sculpture of a phone booth was built to commemorate the first telegraph cable connecting Iceland to Europe.  It  made landfall in Seyðisfjörður in 1906, making it a hub for international telecommunications well past the middle of last century.

We drove to the end of the town (as far as the decent gravel road went) and back again.  I liked this boat.

We drove up as high as we could over the town and took this photo looking back.


We went into the hostel just to see it.  It had a great kitchen.  Everybody takes off their shoes before they enter.

With the recent demise of the local fish-processing plant the village has shifted its economy to tourism. It still remains a significant fishing port on the east coast of Iceland, with harbours, ship construction facilities and a slip.

The church is often referred to as the Blue Church.

The Blue Church Summer Concert Series was founded in 1998 by Muff Worden, musician and Sigurður Jónsson engineer. The concerts are held in the church of Seyðisfjörður on Wednesday nights in July and early August. The aim is to offer a program consisting of different music styles, where classical music, jazz and blues, folk music and lighter music get to shine. The performers are usually highly qualified musicians.
The Seyðisfjörður church is a good concert house, praised by the performers. It houses a fairly new Steinway grand piano and a Frobenius organ with 14-15 stops. It has seats for 300 people. The concert guests are both locals and foreign travellers.  I wish we could be there to hear the concerts.

We decided to head back to Egilsstaðir to camp for the night.  That means I will get to shower and dress inside a warm building again tomorrow.

The rock walls all along the road are teaming with waterfalls that come streaming all the way from the top.  I lost count of how many there were.  It seems like they were every few meters on both sides of the road.  What a beautiful drive.

Finished writing this post at 10:45 tonight.  Wow! I am going to get a full night’s sleep.  Yea!!!

 

The post for yesterday, June 19th, was published before I finished it.  So if you want to read the whole day´s information and see all of the photos, go to the website (traelingnancy.me).

What an incredibly fantastic day.  We hung around the campsite for several hours this morning.  It was nice to take a shower in an indoor bathroom where it was warm getting dressed.  I finished working on yesterday’s blog posting and charged all of the batteries..  Elaine thought it would be fun to take a photo of me since I spend so much time working on the blogs.

We didn’t leave until after 12:00.  The drive to Borgarfjörður was really beautiful.  Much of it was on a gravel road going down switchbacks.  Here are a few photos from the ride.

 

 

 

 

We arrived in Borgarfjörður which is a fjord and a district in south-western Iceland, by Faxafloi bay. It takes its name from the farm of viking and poet Egill Skallagrimsson, of Egil’s Saga fame. Borgarfjörður eystri one of Europe´s “EDEN” destinations. It has a total of only 130 inhabitants.

We checked out the campground and then went to the Alfa Cafe. Álfa Cafe is made from local stones and wood and decorated with old Icelandic cultural items.  The inside of the cafe is warm and inviting.  Elaine and I had delicious fish soup with bread.  The soup bowl was refillable and so was my tea.

These are our waitresses.

There were dried fish heads hanging in the cafe.  It used to be exported to Nigeria.  The Nigerians used the heads for soups and nutrition.  I think the cheeks of the fish were a delicacy. Last year the company that exported it went bankrupt so they no longer export the heads.

There are more fish heads hanging behind the cafe.

There are replicas of paintings by Johannes Sveinsson Kjarva.  He did paintings of the local people and many of them have information describing the people.

Johannes Sveinsson Kjarval (15 October 1885 – 13 April 1972) was an Icelandic painter. He is by many considered one of the most important artists of Iceland.

Born in poverty, he rode his horse from southern Iceland to Borgarfjörður.  He came from a family of 13 children and they couldn’t afford to support him.  When he arrived he was adopted and as a young man worked as a fisherman. However, he spent every spare time drawing and painting and managed to learn basics from artist Ásgrímur Jónsson. At age 27 with financial support from fishermen and the Icelandic Confederation of Labour he passed an entrance examination and was admitted to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts for higher education in the arts where he completed his studies. During the Copenhagen years he became acquainted with various styles including impressionism, expressionism and cubism but he also became an accomplished draughtsman. Later he also took shorter trips to France and Italy.

  • In Reykjavik, one of three buildings belonging to the Reykjavik Art Museum is called Kjarvalsstaðir and presents Kjarval’s works alongside temporary exhibitions.
  • He is depicted on the Icelandic 2000 króna banknote.
  • The 1977 Debut Album Björk by Björk, includes an instrumental flute-tribute (Jóhannes Kjarval) written and performed by Björk

One of the women at the cafe created beautiful felted Icelandic trivets and I purchased 2 of them.

We learned that there was a turf house in Borgarfjörður where a woman lived in the summer.  We were told that her name is Stella and if we knocked on her door, she may let us in.  So we walked across the street.  There were workers in the yard and I asked if Stella was home.  We knocked on the door and she answered.  Stella lives in Reykjavik in the winter.  She has 3 sons, 9 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. I took many photos of her home (both inside and outside).

 

 

The bright-red home has a name – Lindarbakki (1899). It is completely cocooned by whiskery green grass, with only a few windows and a giant pair of antlers sticking out.  Its oldest part dates back to 1899, but it was thoroughly renovated just before the end of the 20th century.  The house is 30 square meters.  Lon ago a farmer used lived there with is wife and 3 children.  I read that the cellar of the house with its well is original.  We didn’t know about the cellar when we were there so we didn’t get to see it.  What a delight to see an really authentic turf home that is occupied. Continue reading


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June 18th – Iceland

Waking up this morning was much easier than I thought.  What a delight to go to a regular breakfast in the hotel.  I sure ate a lot.  Then we went to pack up our stuff.  I decided that since we didn’t have to check-out until noon, I would spend 20 minutes in the infra-red sauna.  It was so delightfully relaxing.

Before leaving the hotel, we stopped and talked with the young man, Garðar, on our way out.  We had a lot of questions to ask about our plans, roads, midges, etc.

Here that we learned about those annoying little critters.

  • Something I forgot from yesterday was that you can leave the window in the room open and they only come as far as the window sill.  How weird because they swarm into the camper whenever we open the doors.
  • Mývat
  • Mývatn means Midges Lake.
  • There are at least 50 varieties of midges.
  • Only one type bites and it does hurt.
  • Mývatn gets 2000 tons a year in dead midges
  • There are no mosquitoes in Iceland

Elaine had been talking with Garðar when I was in the shower and she learned more about the sheep and horses.

Sheep:

  • There are over 500,00 sheep in Iceland.
  • The don’t want the horses to know that the sheep outnumber them.
  • They are taken to the highlands in the summer so they never eat the grasses below.  That is why we don’t see very many of them.
  • The ones scattered about are herded by either dogs or leader sheep which are brown with white markings on their heads and usually taller than the other sheep.

Horses:

  • There are over 100,000 in Iceland
  • Other than using them for tourist rides they are bred to export.
  • They sell for tens of thousands of dollars and come with documentation that goes back centuries.

Before we took off for out day we went back to the nature baths to take a couple of photos.

Notice the two shower-like jets.  I tried them last night and you get a warm water massage when you stand under them.

The steam coming up through the vents all around the place is amazing.

It was a short distance to Dimmuborgir; pronounced is a large area of unusually shaped lava fields east of Mývatn in Iceland.  The Dimmuborgir area is composed of various volcanic caves and rock formations, reminiscent of an ancient collapsed citadel.

The Dimmuborgir area consist of a massive, collapsed lava tube l formed by a lava lake flowing in from a large eruption  in the Þrengslaborgir and Lúdentsborgir crater row to the East, about 2300 years ago. At Dimmuborgir, the lava pooled over a small lake. As the lava flowed across the wet sod, the water of the marsh started to boil, the vapour rising through the lava forming lava pillars from drainpipe size up to several meters in diameter. As the lava continued flowing towards lower ground in the Mývatn area, the top crust collapsed, but the hollow pillars of solidified lava remained. The lava lake must have been at least 10 meters deep, as estimated by the tallest structures still standing.

The lava flow surface remains partly intact around the Dimmuborgir area, so that the Dimmuborgir itself sits below the surrounding surface area. The area is characterised by large hollow cell- or chamber-like structures formed around bubbles of vapour, and some dramatically standing lava pillars. Several of the chambers and pillar bases are large enough to house humans, giving rise to the term “castles” (borgir).

We took a wonderful walk around the area.

Of course, I was wearing the net that protects me from the midges.  I am not sure why but they freak me out.

Folk lore has it that the clothes in this cave belong to the Icelandic Yule Lads.


Folk lore has it that here in Dimmuborgir the Icelandic Yule live.  They are the 13 sons of Gryla dn Leppaludi, vicious trolls that live in a big cave in Ludentarborgir.  The brothers all have funny names that often refer to their preferences for food or interest. To name a few there is Spoon Licker Sausage Swiper, Skyr Gobbler, and the noisy fellow Door Slammer who loves to wake up people by slamming the doors very loudly.

Here is a photo of a depiction of them from the web.

In the summer the Yule Lads can rarely be seen because they use this season to rest and are sleeping in their caves.  But as winter comes, they wake up and start preparing for Christmas.  The best time to meet them here in Dimmuborgir is during the month of December when they are busy preparing for Christmas.  The best way to find them is to walk the path to Hallarfiot and shout loudly, “Jolasverinn” – loud enough to be heard by all.

This bird is a Red Wing;.  I learned the name later in the day.

This moss is so soft and squishy.


Another couple of possible homes for the Yule Lads.

We drove around the lake to the Bird Museum.  On the way we passed many craters in the area called Skútustaðir pseudo craters. but decided that we didn’t have time to take the hike to see all of them   There were many, many of them. This natural phenomena is formed when lava flows over wet ground and pushes the ground down. This causes a lot of steam to be trapped under the weight of the lava which then causes a lot of pressure.  When the pressure becomes too much it causes steam explosions and the formation of these beautiful pseudo craters. These pseudo craters are often called rootless craters as they have no end to them as do normal craters.

Since the bird museum was only going to be open for less than an hour so we decided not to pay to go into it.  The young man at the desk was so knowledgable about birds in the area.  When I showed him one of the gull photos I had taken, he said, ´That is not a gull.”    I used my camera to show him the other bird photos I had taken.  That is how I knew that the bird photo from earlier today was a Red Tail. He named them all and  I will go back to previous days to label the bird photos when I get more time.

On the way back to the car I took a photo of this very tiny bird. It is a Phalarope.  They feed in shallow water and flit about the shore.

Elaine and I had heard a lot about the Vogafjos Cafe, Cow Shed Restaurant.  There are actually cows there and the info about it said that you can watch the cows as you eat a hamburger. That sounded a little wierd and wasn’t actually true.  We sat down at a table and looked at the very expensive items on the menu. It is in an actual cow shed (done up very nicely).  There are actually cows there.   I said, “I guess I will have the hamburger.”  Elaine asked me if I was actually going to spend 36 on on a hamburger.  I thought about it for a minute and we both left to eat our own food in the car.

We drove by Namafjall.  It is an expanse of hot springs called Hveraröndor Hverir that are known for their changing variety.  I didn’t want to get too close with my camera.

So Elaine and I stood back and used each other’s cameras to take photos of each other.

It was time to head out to Egilsstaðir.  We decided to take a side road off for Dettifoss.  It is a waterfall in Vatnajökull National Park in Northeast Iceland, and is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. The water comes from the nearby Vatnajökull glacier, whose sediment-rich runoff colors the water a greyish white.  There was cold low hanging fog engulfing us which made it difficult to get a decent photo of this enormous waterfall.

Then we walked along the path to Selfoss (11 metres (36 ft) high) which is a bit upstream of Dettifoss.  I took a couple of photos there.

Dettifoss and Selfoss would definitely be worth coming back to see on a nicer day.  I would have loved to walk down to the bottom of Dettifoss but we were pretty cold.  It may be important to note that on the eastern bank, the footpath down to the falls is extremely rough and a number of accidents have occurred when visitors have strayed from the track. The grassy slopes on the western bank become extremely slippery when they are wet.

Also, after we left the area  I learned that below Dettifoss,  Hafragilsfoss cascades 27 m into a deep canyon. If we had known, we would have driven to see it.  Some years ago, plans were proposed to harness the hydroelectric potential of the canyon, but they were scrapped when the lava strata in the area were found to be too porous for a reservoir. On the east bank of the canyon, near Hafragilsfoss, the river has cut through a crater row named Randarhólar to expose a volcano’s lava pipe in the cliff wall.

Driving along the road today took us through so many varied landscapes.  We drove through dusty desert volcanic rock that was grey and flat with no vegetation.  Then all of a sudden there were rock walled formations near Dettifoss with the fast, churning powerful river rushing through rocks.  As we drove on the landscape turned to rolling hills of brown volcanic rock. Soon we were again passing through areas with cascading waterfalls coming down through the green hills.  Then we were facing beautiful mountains that had snow on them.  I wish I could post photos of all of this but there were really no places to pull of the road until way after we passed by the scene I wanted to photograph.  It is amazing how few cars are on the road with us, but it is still not safe to just stop in the middle of the 2 land roads.  Here are just three.

The names on the signposts are so long.  Each part of the word has a different meaning.

 

Skjöld means shield;  ólf usually is an ending to a name; staða means place; and skóli means school.  So this must be the name of a nearby school.

At  one point we went by a one land bridge.  We pulled off for me to take a photo from the camper and a car rushed passed us.  I thought it was going to cross the bridge as another car was coming toward it, but at the last minute it pulled off to the side.

 

 

We stopped for the night at Egilsstaðir.  The campground is fantastic because there are indoor showers and a place for me to sit and write the blog inside a warm room. The young woman who checked us in told us that there are senior rates for many places and gave us the senior rate for this campground. We will have to ask for that in the future.

I stayed up until after 200 working on the blog; went to sleep; woke up this morning to a warm shower where I could get dressed indoors; and continued working on the blog.

Sirrý is extremely knowledgeable about the area and gave us so much wonderful information about where to go over the next couple of days.  She is studying to be a speech pathologist.  Elaine and I both love meeting the Icelandic people and having time to talk with them.


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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.

I liked this old abandoned house.

It was fun watching the horseback rider and the horse near the road.

They were pretty commercial but 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 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.

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 would open properly.  This whole saga makes the Camper Go company and their campers sound horrible, but actually they were quite accommodating.  It would be better if they would explain how the heater and batteries work before we ever started out.  It turns out that I may have drained the batter myself by charging my computer as I was blogging even though I had the motor running.   I took 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 him another thanks.


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June 15th – Iceland

We sure had a glitch in our start for the morning.  We were still having trouble with the heat so I called the camper van company again.  They said they would work on it.  But when we were ready to leave, we discovered that the battery was dead. This was a good news/bad news day.  I will try to summarize what happened.

  • Good news was that somebody in the campground had jumper cables.
  • Bad news was the window wipers stopped working
  • Good news was that the company figured out that we had to have the battery disconnected so we drove to the next town and found the mechanic
  • Good news was that I convinced the company that they had to bring us a different van
  • Bad news was that I couldn’t read the text message because I received from Nova (data company)
  • Bad news was that I had made so many calls that I ran out of credit to make any more phone calls
  • Good news was that we found a gas station where I could top off
  • Bad news was that when I tried to call the company to tell them where we were, the data had not come through.
  • Good news was that the waitress in the restaurant was able to figure out how to get me connected via phone to the Nova.
  • Good news was that the camper company met us out on the road with a different camper.
  • Bad news was that the new camper is not quite as nice as the one we had.
  • Bad news is that I am having major internet problems.
  • Good news is that I have 2 cameras with me because one of them is giving me problems.
  • Good news is that the rain that was forecasted did not really happen.
  • Good news is that there is more good news than bad news.
  • Good news is that Elaine and I are still having fun and laughing a lot.

Now on to what else we did today.

Before we new that the windshield wipers weren’t working, we stopped at the concrete church on the way out of Hellissandur.

The church was built in 1903 and is the oldest concrete church in Iceland, perhaps even the world. When it was built, it received a replica of the altarpiece of the Lutheran Cathedral of Reykjavik.  The lupins near it were beautiful.

 

I took a photo of our van through the lupins.


This cool bird was flying around our van and landed on the road in front of us.

After the mechanic fixed the battery, we were off again.

I had some glitches with reducing the size of photos today so I am just uploading some of them.  When I get home with more time and energy, will write more about where we were.

Finished by midnight and off to tuck into the sleeping bag.  It sure gets cole here at night.


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June 14th in Iceland

I forgot to write about the something we learned about what is going to happen on June 17th which is a National Independence Day in Iceland.  They are celebrating their independence from Denmark in 1944.  The pastor from the church in Reykholt told us that everybody in the surrounding communities will ride their horses to the church.  They will have a church service and then party (food, dance, joy).  I wish we could be there to see that but there are many other things to do.

Also last night (or really early this morning at about 2:15) when I went inside the hotel to brush my teeth and get ready for bed, I saw that all of the young women who were going to be horseback riding in the morning dancing in the dining room.  I went in to see if I could get a photo.  One of the women said that I could not post a photo of them, but I needed to dance with them.  So at 2:30 this morning I was dancing with about 15 women.  What a blast.  Then when I came outside to get into the van, I saw my first Icelandic sunrise.

I was so wired that it took a bit to get to sleep so I slept in a bit this morning (no surprise).  We didn’t get going on our drive to Arnarstapi until after 10:30.  The views along the road were stark and stunning.

As we were driving along the road we saw about 5 or 6 people taking photos by a lake.  Elaine turned the car around and dropped me off to see what was going on.  They all had huge camera lenses and were photographing a bird in the water.  I was so excited to actually get one half decent shot myself.

As I was walking back to the camper, I saw this beautiful rock.  I think it looks like a fabulous painting.

We drove on for a while and then decided to turn into a driveway to see a church near a house and a cemetery.  There was an Oyster Catcher on the path.  We learned that in Iceland they are called Tjaldur.

Along the road a bit further we came across another group of cars parked.  The sign said Rauðfeldsgjá  I read that on the  Eastern side of the mountain known as Botnsfjall, there is a  massive natural crack that doesn’t immediately seem to be accessible from the ground. However, if we walked up closer to the base of the mount it would become clear that the nearby stream is actually issuing from the fissure, and there is ample room for a human to get into the crack.  The gorge extends inside the Rauðfeldsgjá fissure for a ways until it narrows near to from where the stream is issuing. Within the split, the walls are covered with vibrant green moss and the imposing cliff walls looming on either side provide a truly unique sense of the sprawl and majesty of Iceland’s natural terrain.  So of course we had to park and walk up to see it.

We had to walk on the rocks through the stream sometimes holding on to the wall.

It was well worth the trip into the back.

When I reached the back of the fissure, I could look up and see the sky.


What a great side trip.

Then we drove on to Arnarstapi or Stapi which is a small fishing village at the foot of Mt. Stapafell between ,Hellnar village and Breiðavík farms on the southern side of Snæfellsnes.  You can see Snæfellsjökull from the town. This is the view of the glacier that we saw as we drove along the road.  It is widely visible even from Keflavik Airport and Reykjavik.

The glacier’s highest peak is 1,446 meters.  Locals believe that great forces flow from the glacier and the myth has inspired many novelists and poets.

There is a huge statue  of Bárður Snæfellsás near the water at the end of this small village or hamlet which was created  by Ragnar Kjartansson one of Iceland most renowned sculptures.  The statue is his interpretation of the giant character, Bárður Snæfellsás, that dominates the area around Snæfellsjökull glacier.  There are many sagas told in Iceland.  This is one of them.

Bárður is known as an extraordinary being from the time of settlement in Iceland.  His story was written in Medieval times in the fifteenth century and is part of the Icelandic Sagas.  His mother was one of the tallest and most beautiful women in her days, but his father Dumbur was a half-giant or a half-troll. Bárður was also considered extremely handsome with a large presence.  In his youth, he was fostered by Dofri, the mountain-dweller, of Dovrefjell in Norway and received an excellent education and training. Bárður married Dorfi’s daughter Flaumgerður and had three tall and beautiful daughters by her. Like he, she also had a human mother. After she had passed away he married Herþrúður his second wife who was human; he had six more daughters by her.

Along with his wife and daughters and some friends, Bárður emigrated to Iceland and settled at Djúpalón on the south coast of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Bárður’s half brother Þorkell also emigrated with his family and settled at Arnarstapi. They were fleeing the tyranny of Harald, the king of Norway. His brother Þorkell had two sons, Sölvi, and Rauðfeldur.

Following an altercation after a rather dangerous prank played on Bárður’s daughters by the half-brother’s sons, Bárður was provoked to a point of uncontrollable anger. An event that made him extremely depressed and totally loose his mind in the end.  Finally, he gave away all his land and all his earthly belongings and vanished into the Snæfellsnes Glacier. In the glacier, rumor has it, that he built an ice cave more in line with his troll or giant side.  There, he became known as the Guardian Spirit of Snæfell as the locals worshiped him and looked at him as their savior. For centuries, they would call upon him in times of hardship and trouble. Bárður wandered the region wrapped in a gray cowl held together by a walrus-hide rope. In his hand was a cleft staff with a long and thick gaff for mounting the glacier.

Bárður’s cave is still in situ, and his story is a timeless, fantastic read. It is, of course, a true story written about events that occurred in Iceland more than eleven hundred years ago, written about six hundred yers ago. Many names of many places in the area around Snæfellsjökull glacier are related to Bárður Snæfellsás and his story.

 We wanted to do the coastal walk between Arnarstapi  and Hellnar.  Since it was after 3:00 and we were hungry, we decided to first drive to Hellnar for lunch at a cafe that several people recommended.  The name of the cafe is on the sign below.
After asking several people, we finally found the cafe.  It was down a path and around the corner overlooking the water.
Elaine and I each had a bowl of fish soup.  This was the first time we ate in a restaurant and were pretty shocked to find out that the cost of each bowl of soup was 26 króna.
Then we drove back to Arnarstapi to chose a site for our camper before we started the walk.  We learned that the cost of parking our camper was going to be 30 króna and there were no showers or hot water at the site.  So we decided to do the walk to Hellnar and back and then drive on down the road.
Here are some of the photos I took on our walk.
The next photo is of Gatklettur or Arch Rock.  It isis a cliff with a circular arch. The arch shows how distinctive wave action has eroded the rocks into arches and beautiful swirled patterns.
After our short walk along the coast we drove to Hellisandur which is around the other side of Snæfellsnes Peninsula.  We explored the town a bit and then found a place to park our camper. It was such a treat to see the rainbow over Snæfellsjökull  form our campsite.
I am watching my first midnight sunset which is setting over Breiðafjörður just before I go to bed.  s a large shallow bay, about 50 km wide and 125 km long, in the west of Iceland. It separates the region of the Westfjords  (Vestfirðir) from the south of the country. Breiðafjörður is encircled by mountains. An interesting feature of the bay is that the northern tip was formed about 15 million years ago, whereas the southern end at Snæfellsness was formed less than half that time ago.
We have been so blessed with our weather (3 sunny days in a row).  Rain is forecasted for tomorrow, but we can hope.