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.
Stayed here right at the coast overnight. Dreaming of Northern lights since with this overcast, there would be none.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And then the Northern lights came and blew me away.
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… 🙂
Leaving Grettislaug was not too easy, considering the amazing quiet and peaceful day I had had yesterday. This will remain one of my favorite spots of Iceland.
But my goal remains to make it on the ring road around Iceland within the two weeks I have. And I have a room booked in Reykjavik on April 3rd, so leaving is not easy, but necessary. I said goodbye to Herbert, his wife and Gerald and left in the late morning.
Leading out of Grettislaug towards Saudarkrokur was a dirt road with lots of horses roaming freely. A great opportunity to snap some shots of these beautiful and friendly and curious animals.
I was driving the whole day with mixed weather. No big blue skies today. I made it back to the ring road around noon and continued traveling West.
I was aiming for dirt road North of Hvammstangi for the night. I passed the small town in the evening, scouted the area for good spot for the night. Later in the evening I did one more run back to town and grabbed some food to go. Was back at my spot at 7.30pm, hoping for Northern lights, but no luck withe the weather coverage. It was heavily clouded, so I had my first Netflix night on Iceland.
Got up around 7am, breakfast in the car. After the snow storm last night the skies looked promising – it might become a beautiful sunny day again. I checked out the facilities of the campground again. While the cafe is closed and the place completely deserted, the facilities like a kitchen house as well as the toilets were open and in kind of working condition. Good – I might actually hang out here the whole day.
At about 8am, I walked over to the two hotpots. They are beautifully located close to the sea, still protected with a stone wall from the direct winds.
Spent there 2 hours, just soaking in the water. Sitting absolutely quiet, you could hear the waves hitting the shores from two directions. Some seagulls crying. Felt like a good idea to stay. Felt like arriving in how I expected Iceland to be.
“A human’s choice is either to see new things, mountains, waterfalls, deadly storms and seas and volcanoes, or to see the same man-made things endlessly reconfigured.”
― Dave Eggers, Heroes of the Frontier
The hotpots had 38.5 respectively 40 degrees – a good temperature to spend a long time in there.
Around 10am, two other tourists showed and I took a walk around the area.
The two girls turned out to be German as well (yes we love to travel….), one of them working in Iceland since a couple of years. We chatted for a while and I got some hints for spots to visit during the next days.
During the day, a couple of cars showed up, some stayed for a dip in the hotpots. In the later evening, luckily everyone left except Herbert, his wife and Gerald, another German solo traveler with VW van.
Left in the morning the beautiful wild camping spot North of Grevinik towards Akureyri. I was looking forward to a coffee in a nice cafe with decent internet access.
At 9.30am in Akureyri, I walked the streets for a bit. The second biggest town or city of Iceland still felt like in hibernation. I found an open bookstore, checked books and settled with coffee and cake for their internet. Iceland feels small and the tourists are still limited – ran into Luise first and Herbert and his wife later in the same bookstore.
I came to Iceland mainly for the nature and open landscapes, so I hit the roads again up North on the Western side of the same fjord.
Is I drove up the coast towards Dalvik, situation got more and more snowy. The Tunnels on the road around Olafsjoerdur and Siglufjoerdur are special. They just have one lane and every two hundred meters or so a stop to let oncoming traffic past. With every tunnel passed, the roads were more covered with snow.
Heading back South on the other side, I came by Hofsoes. Checked up the swimming pool which looked nice open to the sea, but it would only open in the later afternoon. Since Herbert had recommended Grettislaug, I decided to drive all the way to the Grettislaug hotpot and camping place.
Passed Saudarkrokur, there was a bit less snow.
Made it at 5pm with a starting snowstorm to the hotpot and camping place around Grettislaug. Did a quick check on the facilities, but stayed in the car for the night. No hotpot in the middle of a snowstorm. Parked on the wind protected side of a cabin.
Photo is taken the next morning after the snowstorm.
Despite the storm, had a good night even with Northern lights showing after 10pm!