The Road North

From Reykjavik we started out on a very long journey.  Our mission was to reach Laugar (just south of Húsavik) in time for dinner, without speeding tickets.  (I could have said night-fall, but considering the sun wasn’t setting much before 11:30pm, it wouldn’t have been quite such a push.)

The previous day, we had driven the scenic route around Hvalfjörður.

Hvalfjörður

Today, we took the short-cut: the 5.57km long tunnel, deep under the fjord.  This tunnel allows the residents of Akranes to conveniently commute to Reykjavik in approximately 30 minutes.  Before, it would have taken an extra hour to “nip” around the fjord.

Despite worthy attempts by the town council and big industry [there’s a giant aluminium smelter in town], Akranes holds practically zero tourist appeal.

-Andrew Evans, Iceland – Bradt Travel Guides, 2nd edition, 2011

I can vouch for this: after having driven around and about the neatly laid out streets – I realised that I took not one single photograph of this town.  Further up the road is the town of Borgarnes: the starting point for anyone wanting to delve into Icelandic Sagas.

There are some quite lovely views from the harbour:

Borgarnes from the bridge

Borgarnes from the Harbour

Lonely boat

The peninsula beyond which, lies Arkanes

Mountains and weather – a common theme…

I’m disappointed not to have visited the Snaefellsnes Peninsular, but I suppose I have to leave something to do on a return trip.  My “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” will have to wait…

After a quick pit-stop at the N1, on the bend of Route 1, we were back en route north.  We had no further plans to stop until we reached Hvammstangi.  That was before we saw this:

I spy with my little eye…

Is that a cinder cone, I see before me?  Can we stop?

We quickly donned our waterproofs and climbed up the footpath.  When footpath conveniently turned to a series of wooden steps the weather started to do battle with us.  Several times, whilst walking around the crater’s edge, I actually had to sit down to take a photograph as I felt as though I could be whipped away on a ferocious gust of wind.  It didn’t help that rain drops were spattering my lens.

On the edge of the crater looking in

The Grábók Crater is the largest of three scoria cones (Grábókarfell,  Stóra Grábók (Big) and Litla-Grabók (Small)) that make up the Grábókargígar Natural Monument: a 600m long fissure, which formed less than 3000 years ago.  That’s like yesterday in Geological time (more like a minute ago!).

The vent from the other side

The views from the crater’s edge were pretty amazing.

Grábókarfell

Basalt columns provide a dramatic backdrop to dry-stone walled enclosures

Looking back towards Borgarnes

Onwards to Hvammstangi.

We were on the lookout for seals – we found drying fish, instead.

Swinging in the wind

Fish-heads

It’s only mid-day – there’s still the afternoon’s drive to come: in the next post we visit the Glaumaer Turf Dwellings.

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27 thoughts on “The Road North

    1. Iceland certainly is impressive. I really don’t think I did it much justice in my photos – but at least they serve as a record that I was actually there! I sometimes still can’t quite believe it 🙂
      Do you have any plans to go?

    1. Debra, I’ll say it again – you would love it!
      I’ve been thinking about how you would blog about Iceland – mostly due to thehealthyglobetrotter’s comment (see below) about food. I’m useless at whipping out my camera at eateries – but it is all part of the travel experience, too. We certainly had some wonderful meals – I know you would capture them in a mouth-watering way 🙂

  1. I’m hoping to visit Iceland next year. It looks stunning and definitely appears to be growing in popularity from what I’ve seen. How did you find the food?

    1. I’m beginning to think that Iceland is a perennial favourite 🙂
      Perhaps it is because it is much cheaper than it used to be? We certainly found that there is accommodation to suit all budgets, which made the overall tally not so insurmountable as it might have been before 2008.
      The food was wonderful – lots of fresh fish (as you might expect) and delicious, succulent lamb . If you want langoustines that are out of this world then Hofn Hotel serves the best (be prepared to blow a hole in the budget for that one, though!)
      We never went hungry 🙂

  2. Wow, and while you wait for your “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” you get to see all these beautiful places!

    What kind of camera do you have? All your pictures are so crystal clear!

    1. I know!! Don’t think for one second that I am ungrateful for my opportunity to visit this country!
      Most of the photos I took, whilst in Iceland, were with my DSLR – a Canon EOS 50D. The more “vivid” coloured photos were taken with a point-and-shoot digital camera – Canon Ixus 155 HS.

    1. Hi Emily! It does seem lonely, but I kind of like that – that feeling of having a place to yourself without bus-loads of tourists to burst in and break the spell.

    1. Thanks Lisa, the light was fantastic. It doesn’t matter if it is cloudy or sunny, there is something special about the air quality there that just shows Iceland off to perfection.

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