It’s days like today that make me really appreciate the fact that the sun doesn’t really set in Iceland at this time of year. Today was to be my longest drive…and add into that all the amazing and interesting places that I am to stop, I had about a good 10-12 hour day in front of me…but the Universe had other plans…testing my fortitude and well…. smarts, I guess. I woke up a little sicker and to be honest, a little nervous about the pain…didn’t want it causing issues in Snaefellsness and Greenland. So I heeded the nurse’s warning and found a doctor, since i thought this may be my last opportunity…but it is a Saturday…on a holiday weekend so that meant I was relegated to the Emergency room at the hospital…hmmm I finally found it, no thanks to Garmin who seemed to insist I drive into the harbor…I am really trying to not take all this misdirection personally but to be honest she really keeps trying to get me killed…or, at the very least, lost so that I will just die of …..lostness? (-:
I lost my morning completely to a lovely and very young doctor…who not only was covering the emergency room BUT also had to cover all 911 calls as well…my hope was he could finish with me before running out on some emergency…he finally, after consulting with an on call specialist, decided to load me down with the needed meds…most of which are over the counter…oh…and he just gave me names…now I had to go on a scavenger hunt for a pharmacy….I thought I had it in the bag and knew where one was in the tourist district…but lo and behold they were closed on Saturdays…this wasn’t going to be an easy ride!…I eventually found one and filled the script and others and finally got on my way…I really was not up to reading the map today, so I decided to give the power over to my nemesis, Ms. Garmin…well at times, I did ignore her…to her dismay but to my survival…The day was glorious, other than me feeling under the weather at the beginning and the fact I was 5 hours late! But alas, the day is long here and I just called my next guest house to let them know of my late arrival…all problems solved… and now it was all up to Ms. Garmin and my body to get me there in one piece…
First stop was a place called Glaubaer…”For centuries Glaumbaer was a priestly manor and the home to many historical figures. ” so the pamphlet tells me..really what it is…are Turf Houses…they are old Icelandic Farmhouses with a complex of small buildings connected by a central passageway…the one they have as a museum was for the gentry…but the poor also used Turf House since the lack of building supplies AND they were excellent for insulation.(see pics)
After strolling through the house, I went to a sweet little cafe on the grounds and enjoyed a lite lunch of tea, Salmon fried bread & an Icelandic pancake with whipped cream.
I was then on my way and the over the counter pain meds were working their magic(I am going to bring some of this stuff back). They have it all over Europe and they are non narcotic and so amazing at stopping pain…By now I was beginning to feel a little like survival was in my future…that is if the GPS didn’t have other plans…
I headed up into the finger region to a beautiful mountain valley called Hjaltadalur…in the valley sits a tiny town called Holar…it’s the former residence of the Bishop of North Iceland. This town was a very important cultural center in the Middle Ages…and while I was there, I noticed all sorts of people packing their cars and saying goodbye…turns out they just completed the Northern Atlantic Conference on Rural Tourism..perfect location too…you couldn’t get any more Rural…I was speaking to an American man, at a fueling station later in the day, who had just attended…oh and once again, my fueling prowess came in handy helping the American…glad I could be of service to my countrymen!
After touring the church and walking a bit, I headed to the coast to a small fishing village called Hofsos. This village became known at the end of the 19th century from which many Icelanders emigrated to the “new world” for a better life…cute town and worth a look for purely historic purposes…but during the drive I realized that I had yet to buy a single item…and there were a few I had hoped to get…well well, I was now in quite a pickle…these villages had no real shops and tomorrow was Sunday and Monday is a holiday AND then I am off to Greenland…looks like 2 weeks in Iceland only reaped me great times and the few volcanic rocks I picked up from the beach and glacier lagoon…but they are really cool rocks…and easy to put in my very tight backpack.
Since my day started so late, I gave up on the volcano hike, which was ok since, eventhough I was feeling significantly better, I didn’t want to push it…Greenland is looming AND nothing is stopping me there.
So I plugged my guest house into the GPS and once again, she had no idea…so I tried for just the town…then the region…now mind you each time I have to do this, I have to type those awfully long and confusing names…and my index finger is just plain worn out…not to mention my brain!
Finally I was able to get her to accept something in the area and Voila…3 1/2 hours to go…hopefully putting me there by 7:30P…not bad…what I was unaware of in my accomplishment of programing her…is that she had devious plans for me…here I am comfortably flying down the highway listening to Carole King & James Taylor and Carly Simon for the 50th time…when she tells me to turn left…”LEFT?” I think…that is a fully gravel road…eventhough it does have a highway sign…and looking at the map I can see this road is ALL gravel…I try to ignore her but as she goes into hyper-recalculate mode, the time becomes 5 hours! Seriously! So I finally u-turn(very carefully on a practically 1 lane highway…and put my trust in this crazy contraption…let’s just say, I am really happy my meds kicked in and I was completely fueled up …otherwise someone would have found be at the bottom of a cliff after I threw myself off!
Up until now, most of Iceland’s roads were paved or, even if graveled, were well graded…this one was like that road to the gorge way back in the East…imagine Pacific Coast Hwy 1, at it’s most twisty…and high…yes, there were straight aways through flatlands but the cliffs without railing on loose gravel was…well interesting to say the least…now after awhile here, I have learned & been told the trick to driving these roads is speed(the speed limit)…NOT to go too slow…one, you will never get there and two is traction…I had been suspicious when told that but up to now I found it to be true…BUT when a car was coming in the other direction, which on this road only happened every 1/2 hour or so…you had to slow down and allow each car to squeeze by…well one time I was coming around a curve and saw a car coming…we both made attempts to move to the side…my side, unfortunately, was the one with the cliff drop….well I slowed but my car then slid a bit so that my back right wheel caught the edge and the loose gravel made me slid even more… I felt the car start to “hydro” plane(best way to describe it) but without the water(gravel)…at the moment my back end started to swivel over the cliff edge, I literally could feel the adrenaline shoot through my arm and into my chest…it was a bizarre feeling…I, surprisingly, kept calm…and to my great surprise, I didn’t react to the swerve…I don’t know why I didn’t panic…but other then the adrenaline shooting through me, I just kept the wheel going straight and told myself to not turn the wheel(someone had other plans because I have no idea how I knew to do that)…I was so happy no one was in the car with me because I am sure they would have gasped or yelled and that would have made me react differently…this way it was only me…yep…Ms. Garmin had other plans for me…she was trying to kill me for sure…
I hit the gravel and slid one more time…but this time I would have just tumbled down an embankment and not off a cliff…the adrenaline hit again and this time I did slide further…each time I was slowing down…I feel a need for speed…as the saying goes…I could not get off this road fast enough…literally…when I spoke to some guests at the guest house, later, they, too, had travel stories of how their garmin sent them on that same road and they too has almost met their untimely demises….hmmm…maybe this is how the technological revolt starts…all the garmins start sending us off cliffs and into tailspins…I see a great horror flick in the making.
When I finally got to the guest house, it was 9pm. I rushed out to grab dinner…and found this wonderful little cafe on the harbor…I am staying in Stykkisholmur in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula…The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a wonderful place where tourists don’t tend to come and spend more than a day tripout of reykjavik…It looked wonderful when I researched Iceland so I requested to come through it and stay 2 nights…
This guest house doesn’t have the spectacular views I have had with the others but it is lovely and I love the town. This is where you catch the ferry to go to the West Fjords…That is the one place I am not doing this trip…I will save it for my next trip…oh, and there will be a next one…for sure.
When I returned from my lovely dinner of Seafood soup, that had everything from shrimp to mussels to salmon and lobster along with a Salmon Salad, I met a couple from Toronto heading East and a young man from Ireland traveling west..We all chatted for quite awhile and then the couple went to bed but the young Irish guy and I stayed up and chatted about travel…turns out in his 27 years he has seen pretty much most of the world…He was 3 months in the Middle East, including Iran and Syria…I was so envious…he encouraged me to go…said Iran was spectacular…I feel I missed my window when I had hoped to go to Jordan, Egypt, Libya & Tunisia right before the Arab Spring…I put it off and then the Arab Spring happened…now it seems it will be quite awhile before it will be safe for me to travel alone in all but maybe Jordan…speaking to Ian made me hopeful…as it always does when I speak to people that young who are as adventurous as he is…
We bid goodnight so that he could take his parents out to watch the midnight sunset…it sort of sets…for an hour but really it just gets dusky…BUT the light does change……I desperately needed some sleep so retired happily to my bed.
Here are some pictures of my travels today(Saturday)