Iceland Day 11 – Golden Triangle with Pingvellir, Oxararfoss, Geysir and Gulfoss

April 5.

This would be the day of the golden triangle – the major attractions Pingvellir, Geysir and Gulfoss that are located close enough to Reykjavik for a day trip. With that, I was also anticipating more crowds of tourists than in the relatively quiet North.

Heading towards Pingvellir, I was planning to take road 435. I had read some nice reviews about Pingvellir where approaching was recommended via this scenic route. As it turned out, that advice was only good for summer time:

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Road 435 closed due to snow

When I later came to the Pingvellir area, I avoided the main parking spot but took an earlier turn South along the lake.

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Took a lunch break on a small dirt road in this beautiful area.

Continuing on towards Geysir, my next stop was at the Oxararfoss waterfall and a connected small canyon. The access into the canyon was a bit steep. With so many people crawling down, it was actually funny to watch how many were scared of slipping or falling and decided to glide down instead sitting on their pants.

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Oxararfoss

Following the tourist crowds, next stop was the Geysir area.

 

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After this geothermal area, I was heading on towards Gulfoss, again with a full parking lot. I really wonder if this is low season, how is this area looking like in peak season?

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Gulfoss

And it was time for another hotpot for the night. Checking the useful hotpoticeland.com website, I drove a bit South towards Fludir. The camping ground there was closed, but would make a good parking for the night anyway. Drove on some dirt roads towards the close hotpot in Hruni called Hrunalaug. Due to the proximity to the golden triangle, this hotpot was packed full with visitors. Some people from Iceland, but also from China and the US. It got a bit tight in there, but I still stayed for an hour or so. Surely not the same and these lone hotpots in the North I had enjoyed so much – but a hotpot after all.

At 9.30pm at the closed campground where I stayed for the night.

Iceland Day 10 – From Reykjavik to Gardur

April 4.

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Got up early for a video interview that unfortunately got postponed. So I enjoyed the hotel breakfast extensively and hung out until lunch time using their Wifi for photo backups and blogging.

Around lunch, I was heading out South towards Gardur with two lighthouses. Herbert had mentioned this spot for camping. And indeed – a beautiful area to walk around and also stay for the night.

Slowly walking along the coast, I truly enjoyed the ocean. The smell, the wind… with my eyes scanning the waves, I first could not believe what I saw… But first a dorsal fin, a tail fin, then water spray from the blowhole… there were whales passing by so close to the coast! Felt so happy in this moment – an unexpected sighting, feeling the nature so close.

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Yes, looks small: the black spot in the back is a whale

Stayed here right at the coast overnight. Dreaming of Northern lights since with this overcast, there would be none.

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Iceland Day 9 – From Snorrastadir into Reykjavik

April 3.

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After a late breakfast, I continued South towards Reykjavik. Stopped at a Bonus supermarket to get food for the next days. Food is not that expensive in Iceland if you buy at Bonus. It is still higher priced than in Germany, but Germany has quite low prices. Many of the products I bought like fruits and vegetables from Spain or Italy have just the same packaging like in the German supermarkets.

I checked into the Grimur hotel, a nice yet affordable hotel with self checkin. Drove into downtown, visited a nearby barbershop for a quick trim. Rakarastofa Ragnars & Hardar – Highly recommendable. Then I walked downtown to see some sightseeing spots like the famous church Hallgrimskirkja and the Harpa concert hall where a StarWars piece was playing.

Had my best (and first) fish and chips in Iceland at the Reykjavik Fish restaurant. Before heading back, I stopped at Perlan, an exhibition center/water tower at a top of a hill with a good view on Reykjavik. They had an exhibition on Iceland’s flora and fauna and its vulcanos – quite interesting and well done.

 

Iceland Day 8 – From Westfjords into Snaefellsnes

April 2.

Got up around 9am after that really long night last night. But the photos of the Northern lights still look nice in the morning. So loosing some sleep for these moments was very worth it.

To get out quickly from the Westfjords towards the Snaefellsnes region, I decided to take a ferry that will connect from Brjanslaekur in the Westfjords to Stykkisholmur in Snaefellsnes. It should save me several hours driving. Booking it online just 2 hours before departure was easy enough. I was waiting alone at the very small harbor first, then one truck and another car showed up.

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The ferry left around 12pm. The ferry ride was great – beautiful weather, a short stop at a tiny island on the way.

Just as the life in the Westfjords, also the ferry connection seems to be as flexible and multipurpose as possible. Besides trucks, cars and passengers, the ferry carried some lumber on deck that was quickly unloaded during the short stop on the way. Also a small container was exchanged, probably with mail/packages. Water was refilled while the ferry was stopping for these procedures. A trailer was lifted up with the crane to the spot where the lumber had been transported before. Once again I was impressed on how a country and society so small in population still can work.

With all this efficiencies, I made sure to be at the steering wheel when the ship was about to arrive. You notice the big truck behind my van in the rather empty ferry.

I spent the day driving through the really beautiful landscape of the Snaefellsnes peninsula.

For the evening, I planned two locations with hotpots nearby. One turned out to be closed, the other one I was not able to find on the first try. Checking on campgrounds opened in the winter season, I decided to stay in the Snorrastadir farm which also offers a basic campground with facilities. It was great to reconnect with Luise. The hottub was closed unfortunately, but they offerend a big kitchen space well heated for dinner. Had lots of beer for a good night sleep.

Iceland Day 7 – Hvammstangi, Bordeyri, Burdaladur along the South coast of the Westfjords to Talknafjoerdur

April 1.

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Had an early start with lots of driving planned for today. I wanted to make it into the Westfjords, even if just for a day or so. And of course I needed a hotpot – something you get used to way too quickly as a daily treat on Iceland.

Stopped at a campsite near Burdaladur for a quick fresh up.  Shortly after, I stopped at the hotpot Gudrunalaug, just a bit off road 60. Blown away by the beauty of this natural hotpot with a view into the snow covered mountains, I forgot to take photos. There is a old small wooden building where you can leave your clothes just next to it. I had the hotpot for myself, forgot the time and fell asleep a few times. Two hours later, I continued way too relaxed on the road 60 North.

The ride turned out very beautiful – and long. Road 60 follows the South coast of the Westfjords. It is a winding road with lots of hills to climbs, turns and changing weather and road conditions. Some parts are unpaved and very steep. I felt glad to pass these without snow or ice.

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On the exposed parts, the winds got stronger and stronger. It is irritating because there are few indicators on the wind outside the car. Being used to driving in Germany, you see trees and bushes shaking in the winds. In Iceland with so little trees, you just suddenly feel the push of the wind and the car swerves to a side of the road.

The winds can be beautiful too – like when blowing the snow over the road in the clip below.

I made it all the way to the small community of Talknafjoerdur around 5pm. I was planning to stay near a dirt road for the night – and the map promised another hotpot!

I went late to the hotpot around 11pm. It consists of several pools made of concrete with different depths and temperatures. I went so late because I was hoping for Northern lights. The skies had cleared up in the evening and the aurora forecast looked good – a promising evening.

A bit off track, I felt this hotpot is rather used by the locals of the small nearby village. And indeed – I connected with some locals. I ended up chatting a lot about living in the Westfjords, in a small 250 people town like Talkajfoerdur. I was so curious. And it seems fascinating. It is a functioning community, just really small. Everyone knows everyone. Many people function in multiple jobs. You can get some food and basic needs covered in the village’s small supermarket. There is one bit bigger shop in the the town in the next fjord. They do monthly shopping runs to Reykjavik, a car drive/ferry ride that takes 4-7 hours. And even if your internet is broken – the internet company has a support guy in the next town, so the wait is not more than 2 or 3 days for a home visit.

Not only a different world than Germany. I feel we are moving in Germany even further away. Everything and everyone gets more specialized. Speed and cost pressure dictate life. It was an engaging discussion. Thank you.

And one more thing. The Northern lights that night. Wow.

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Stars at night

And then the Northern lights came and blew me away.

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A couple of more shots. Shot with my Sony RX100 with a tiny tripod. First taken at 2am from outside the car. Late I moved in and realized the shots are still pretty good through the car windows.

This was really beautiful. Iceland might be a country mainly black and white in winter time. But nature has this beautiful show for the people there. And of course there are the hotpots… 🙂