Snæfellsnes: rocks, the hound, sharks & gravel – Fire&ice – day 8

This morning I realized that I had forgotten something in yesterday’s report – no wonder, I finished it only at midnight. I wanted to explain why I had left out an interesting location before I arrived in Reykjavik. Reason No.1: It would have taken me a two hour detour PLUS a three to four hour walk (!). Reason No.2: the active volcano Fagradalsfjall, that erupted in March and spit fire during weeks, has been dormant for a while. I checked the webcam yesterday and on top, the only thing visible was some fog. So I arrived some weeks to late. What might have been:

But under this circumstances, it was not worth the long detour. Pity.

Description in the elevator. In Islandic and Bavarian 🤪

I left the hotel shortly after nine o’clock. (Left: plaque in the elevator. In Icelandic and Bavarian 🤪). It was a nice, sunny morning and I headed north, following the ring road. Once I passed under a fjord in a long tunnel. In Borgarnes, I left the road No.1 and followed the road to Snæfallsnes, the large peninsula sticking out like a finger in Iceland’s West. The landscape got more and more interesting, I occasionally stopped and took a picture.

What a beautiful day! This was again a remote place, void of large groups of tourists. I stopped at a scenic place in the west und read curiously a board that was displaced there….:

Gulp! I’m glad we’re not in the 16th century anymore!

At mid-day, I got to Hellnar and took a picture of the beautiful scenery:

Hellnar

I realised that I passed a petrol station in the last village and turned around. In Arnarstapi, I was lucky to have a GPS that indicated me the way to the “petrol station”: a single pump in the middle of nowhere. All pumps in Iceland so far could be operated and paid directly at the pump. By the way, I have not visited any ATM in Iceland, I’m not carrying cash. Basically everything can be paid with plastic money.

I felt a bit hungry, so I stopped at a small place next to the road and ordered a Stapi soup, a local fish soup. It contained fish, shrimps, lobster…and lots of cream. Delicious!!

I did a little walk to the Gatklettur, a spectacular natural arch at the beach:

After a few kilometers, I stopped at the next scenic place and walked towards Lóndrangar. However, this time I had left the camera in the tank bag, so I will nick something from the internet…

I was in the Snæfellnesjökull Natural Park now, and the big volcano is dominating the tip of the peninsula:

Snæfelljökul. According to Jules Verne, the entrance to the centre of the earth.

It was a fantastic day. The views changed once I was on the Northern side of the peninsula, but it was still very beautiful. The main mountain range was covered in clouds and it seemed to rain there. However, at the coast I enjoyed perfect sunshine.

It was a fantastic day. The views changed once I was on the Northern side of the peninsula, but it was still very beautiful. The main mountain range was covered in clouds and it seemed to rain there. However, at the coast I enjoyed perfect sunshine.

And then I reached one of the most iconic mountains in Iceland: Mount Kirkufell. Also famous from Game of Thrones.

“There’s a mountain, looks like an arrowhead. The dead are marching past, thousands of them.”

The Hound
The Hound was right. But no marching dead anywhere to be seen.

The was even a bridal pair, taking pictures. The view in the other direction was not too bad either:

I went on. I knew there were two issues ahead: a 60 km unpaved road and the bad weather ahead of me. When I passed the road sign of a shark museum, it raised my interest and I checked the rain forecast: actually it would make sense to delay my ride a bit as the rain would move on and I could maybe avoid it. So I decided to take a little detour, riding through an Icelandic moss landscape:

I arrived at a remote place that looked like a farm and parked the XBR in front of the building. The instructions were clear:

I paid the entrance fee and joined a tour. As I hadn’t been there from the start, a young lady repeated the most important facts to me. Apart from some shark teeth, the museum consists mainly of fisherman tools and wildlife of the area.

What is really special about this place that it produces a local speciality: the notorious Icelandic fermented shark meat (Hákarl). Not for the faint of heart. Shark meat from fishing by-catch is put into boxes and left fermenting. Then it is dried for months in the air, (and this is important) far from any other dwellings. I went to the drying house later, you don’t want to have this near your house where you live…

I tasted the offered meat, ok, it’s special, a bit salty, fatty and some hint of ammonia…let’s try another one…this one was much stronger. Whoa. Ammonia! Ok, let’s wash it down with the snaps. Right. Not my everyday snack, but I can understand why they like it here.

I went back to the road and soon hit the shortcut road to the East, I did not want to do more than 100 km of detour….

OK, let the “fun” begin. 60 km of gravel, gulp!

In the next hour, I slowly hobbled across different parts of this track. I was glad that the was almost no rain, it could have turned it very slippery. I enjoyed the views and managed to keep my speed between 45 and 55 km/h.

Finally, the track turned into tarmac and some kilometers later, I topped up in Búđardalur. Some minutes later, I arrived at the hotel in Laugar í Sælingsdalur. A simple, but clean hotel with a special feature: a natural hot tub! There is also a small reconstructed geothermal pool called Guðrúnarlaug or Guðrún´s pool. The pool is mentioned in the Sturlunga saga and Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir, one of the greatest women in the Sagas, used to dwell by such a pool at Laugar. Well, if it’s part of Icelandic history, let’s try it out! I grabbed a towel and went up to the pool with the little changing hut. I had to share the pool with other people, so I didn’t take more pictures or videos. The water had about 40 degrees, perfect temperature.

Afslappandi bað með fallegu útsýni – frábær leið til að enda daginn.

The restaurant facilities are simple, but the food was tasty (Gravlax aaaaaand…..yummy lamb! Sorry Shawn, it’s too tasty). Downside: large horde of noisy, American tourists.

Tomorrow, I will remain in the hotel and start a large day trip through the Western fjords. A very long ride, but the weather looks good. Keeping fingers crossed.

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