If you’re in the UK, and you didn’t see ‘The Man who Cycled the World’ this week, I strongly suggest that you get yourself to BBC iplayer and watch it before Monday (when it will start to be removed). It really was an awesome achievement (there are four episodes)
Date: 25th July 2008
A day for some travel. It was a pretty easy day, we took our time. left Reyjavík heading for Skógar. When we went in this direction in 2006, we went via Seltún, emerging on Highway 1 at Hverageði after travelling on gravel road 42. This time we went directly on Highway 1.
We had good weather for the day. It was warm and pleasant. We stopped at Seljalandsfoss which is about 20km along the road from Hvolsvöllur. Seljalandsfoss is a waterfall, visible for miles along the road as a vertical streak on Stórhödði. There is a picnic area there, as well as public conveniences – and that’s it.
Seljalandsfoss is formed from the meltwaters of Eyjafjalljökull, the baby glacier of the Eyjafjalljökull, Mýrdalsjökull, Eyjafjalljökull, Vatnajökull trilogy. Vatnajökull being the big daddy of the glaciers, indeed, it’s so large that the various extremities of it often have their own names.
At Seljalandsfoss Monica and I walked behind the waterfall. The paths isn’t particularly hard, but it can be slipperly, and on a few occasions it can be steep (but it is ‘stepped’). If you decide to do this, start by going to the right of the falls, it’s easier that way – and take a waterproof due to the fine spray.
Continuing on, we arrived at Skógar, we were staying at Hotel Skógar. It’s a nice little hotel – quite quiet. The trouble was that being all at ground level, occasionally someone walked past the window – we had a small kid looking in at one point. The same was true later in the week at the Northern Lights hotel, but people seemed less inclined there to walk around the hotel.
When we arrived, at about 4pm, I decided to unpack my bicycle and go for a ride. The bike went together with no problems at all. Open case. Lift out. Unfold. Remove fork spacer, put quick release on wheel. Attach wheel. Put in stem. Put in handlebars. Put in saddle. Pedals. Done. Then it came to pumping the tyres. Now, here I had problems. The pump I had brought with me chose this point to fail. It simply would not get a good seal around the valve. It was a non-starter – I could not ride. This was so frustrating. I had to pack everything up again.
So, what to do now? Well, Mum had gone for a walk up to Skógarfoss, so Monica and I went to find her, then suggested that we take a trip down to Vík. At Vík there are some superb black sand beaches. Around the corner is Dyrhólaey, where one can see puffins and nice rock formations (although we didn’t get there on this trip). As we got near to Vík the weather changed. It became very windy – and so this small excursion became nothing more than arriving at Vík, getting blown about on our way into the touristy wool shop there, and returning to the hotel (where the weather improved again). That’s the thing with Iceland, the weather can change quickly both with time and with geography.
In the evening, we ate at the hotel. It was rather expensive, though very nice. Other options (discovered the next day) included a cheap-end diner nearer Skógarfoss, which served things like the obligatory pizza, and a diner in Vík at the service station.
Date: 24th July 2008
We began with a trip to Perlan (the artificial geyser runs from noon until 4pm – we were early). We had a look around and then headed out of town. We took the 42 south past Klerfarvatn. This can be a great road, but as we approached we had horizontal rain and poor visibility. It’s a gravel road, and where the tarmac ends there is a steep climb. When we took this road before we had trepidation, but it was fine. Gravel roads in Iceland are usually pretty good (with a couple of exceptions, hire cars are allowed on them, but not allowed on the F roads)
As we left Klerfarvatn the weather cleared up just in time for our stop at Seltún. This is a spot in the Krýsuvík geothermal area. We missed it when we first looked for it in 2006. The trick is to realise that if you see the turning to Grindavík, you’ve gone too far. It’s near the start of the tarmac road (why do some roads in Iceland have a tarmac bit miles from anywhere, which can only be got to be going over gravel?)
We visited Seltún for its geothermal and bubbly goodness, and then took the road to Grindavík, stopping at Krýsuvíkurkirkja, a little church not far from the junction.
From there we stopped by the road side for some rock structures (common in Iceland), and ended up in Grindavík. Now this is a town which doesn’t look much, but it did grow on me by the time we came back at the end of the holiday (final night). It has some nice food, petrol station (important!), and a geothermal pool. We took some lunch in a place by the harbour – a reasonably priced buffet affair, then went over the road to look at the Salt Fish museum.
Continuing around the peninsula, we stopped at the ‘Bridge between Continents’. It’s there solely to give a target for tourists driving around this peninsula. It’s a bridge over a small rift which seperates the North American tectonic plate and the Eurasian plate. The rift is much wider at
Back in Reykjavík we got ready to go over to see Björn, who was our gracious host for the evening. He had prepared great big steaks of Icelandic lamb for us – very simply done, and very tasty. We committed geek-talk.
Then, we dropped Mum back at the hotel, and Monica, Björn and I all went out to downtown Reykjavík. We ended up in a bar called b5. It was a ‘trendy’ kind of place, and I felt quite scruffy in there… but still, I didn’t have a smart change of clothes, so…
It was quite pricey in there, but the Mojito was good. The bar is trendily lit, and had a horse as a lampshade. The music choice was very good as we walked in they were playing ‘The Theme from Shaft’ (Ya damn right!).
We got back to the hotel at around 1am – the sun was down, but it was a twilight, not dark.
Date: 23rd July 2008.
We travelled to Iceland with Mum – we would be repeating some of our earlier visit, but going to some new areas.
We stayed at the Hilton in Stansted the night before flying. It wasn’t the cheapest of options, but given the convenience, it was worth doing.
We had an oddity in that we could have the room with breakfast or with long stay parking (and an extra 17 quid for breakfast). 17 quid? In hindsight, I should have got the room with Parking for Mum, and the room with breakfast for Monica and myself, paying the 17 quid for Mum.
Stansted is a small airport by Heathrow and Gatwick standards, but worked fairly well. I did kill some time by having a panic that I left the car window open – and this meant that when we went through security we went straight to the gate.
I took my New World Tourist, and was a little worried about the weight limits, but it was fine – I just checked it in. I think it helped that there were three of us, and the other cases were under.
Iceland Express was pretty good, although they did the Ryanair/Easyjet thing of charging for everything on the flight, even down to the cup of tea. This was bad.
We landed at Keflavík airport. Collected our bags and went straight out to the car pickup. It was very windy, and a bit cold. It had been raining! The weather in Iceland is very changeable. over the next ten days we would have everything from warm T shirt weather to fog, cold, wind and rain. Fortunately, the weather was usually good whenever we wanted to see something – the good weather outweighed the bad. Later in the week it’d be 20°C whilst simultaneously standing next to beached icebergs at Jökulsárlón.
The car we had was a Sköda Octavia. Not a bad car at all. I did find that the seat could have done with being a few centimetres more central, as the slope of the side door meant that it would touch my shoulder annoyingly. Apart from that, it was good.
We drove into Reykjavík, noticing that the road was being developed since our last visit. There were new businesses alongside. I do hope that this doesn’t end up being one long and thin extension of Reykjavík.
We found our hotel with only a little difficulty (having a streetplan of Reykjavík was essential). We stayed at the Hotel Óðinsvé which is centrally located. It was also the only Hotel which we stayed in to provide tea and coffee facilities in the room (Hotels! This is essential!)
The rooms were pretty good, though Mum’s room was not as nice as ours. The staff were helpful, and when we found the TV in our room did not work (not that we wanted to watch it much, but that’s not the point) we had a new TV the next day.
Once into the Hotel, we went for a walk around Reykjavík, going around the town centre, seeing the Alþing (the Icelandic Parliament) and exploring that sort of area.
We had a small meal in the Café Paris – which was a reminder of Icelandic prices, and then went back to the hotel.
I considered unpacking the bike – but thought (wrongly) that I’d be able to cycle in Reykjavík before leaving, and so left it in the case.
I’m back from a trip to Iceland. My return flight was delayed from just after 5pm to 1am… so I’m a bit wiped out today. I got out of the airport at 5:30am, drove for a while, slept for a couple of hours, watched ‘Britain’s Strongest Man’ at Mum’s house. Drove a little more. I got home at 1pm. Washed. A little under 24 hours before, I had been leaving the Blue Lagoon in Iceland ‘just in time’ to get checked in for my flight – only to sit around for 8 hours at Keflavík airport. This afternoon all I’ve done really is (slowly) geotag, and go to fetch the cats from the cattery.
Anyhow, I’ve geotagged about half the pictures. When I’ve done the rest they’ll appear on flickr and I’ll start referencing a few here.
… and seeing as I didn’t reference it at the time: What about poor ol’ Gordon and Glasgow East? *chuckle*.