1. Went to my first climbing tournament at Klífurhúsið today. I was worried it was going to be all competitive and difficult, but it was loads of fun, with a surprising number of easy-to-somewhat-challenging (for me, approx. V2) routes. Finished with 62/220 points, looking forward to improving on that at the next one!

  2. Fifth and final day around : started at Stykkishólmur (again, nothing much was open due to it being Easter Sunday), so had a look round a little islet by the harbour.

    A couple had left this decidedly antipermanent inscription on the lighthouse:

    Whoever T and L were, either they had decided that commemorating their visit and togetherness in a transient, antipermanent medium was profound and romantic, or they had completely misunderstood the whole “carve your names into a tree” thing.

    We headed a little way out to the miraculously open Shark Museum, an old barn filled with odds and ends related to Icelandic life, specifically fishing. The jovial old curator (who also plays organ at the local church) enthused to us and another tourist in Icelandic about how him, his father and his grandfather all hunted greenland shark, which grow up to 8 tonnes in weight and breathe through their skin (at this point he grabbed a piece of skin for us to feel). We were then adorned with old fishing gear and invited to eat some specially prepared hákarl — shark meat fermented for 6 weeks, then air-dried for 2-3 months. Most hákarl is disgusting (I have yet to meet an Icelander who actually enjoys eating it) but this variety was actually rather nice, if a little chewy.

    The weather turned murky so we shot off along the north of Snæfellsness to the westernmost tip, a mossy volcanic landscape reminiscient of parts of the south but significantly more unstable:

    Whilst the waves all the way along the the west coast of the peninsula were impressive, there was one tiny cove which seemed to focus them into huge, bizzare shapes. No photo did them justice, but here’s a taster of what it’s like:

    Barely one minute after tearing ourselves away from this particular natural phenomena, another one literally crossed our path — an Artic fox, repleat in dark reddish-brown summer coat. It didn’t hang around long enough to get a photo (presumably there is lots of important fox business to do in Snæfellsness), but it was an unexpected sighting which more than made up for the north’s disappointing lack of polar bears.

    Volcanic beaches with black sand, pebbles and cliffs can be found all around Iceland, but Drítsvík is a wonderful example of all three. It’s also the clearest example of being able to see how the jagged cliffs are eroded into pebbles and sand — not as wonderfully smooth a gradient as in the south, but a greater variety.

    Djúpalónssandur, next to Drítsvík, holds the remains of the British trawler Epine, which disintegrated off the Icelandic coast in 1948. Leaving the rusting remains on the beach is a surprisingly beautiful memorial:

    With that, the tour was almost ended and we headed back to Reykjavík. It’s been an amazing five days, with a bizzare menagerie of weathers, roads, towns and landscapes.

    This is the last of my daily photo posts, but expect a summary article (filled to the brim with Helpful Travel Tips like “dried cranberries are not sufficient hiking fuel”) when all the panoramas are stitched!

  3. Day 4 around photo summary: Dalvík, Siglufjörður, Hvítserkur.

    Today was the day everything we tried to look at was closed — Akureyri library, culture house, Siglufjörður Herring museum and Folk Music Centre, and the Glaumbær museum.

    At Dalvík I came across some rather nice abandoned industrial machinery including these pipes which were playing music in the wind:

    followed by some more snow-covered mountains before driving through the ≈20km of tunnels required to get to Siglufjörður

    Siglufjörður itself was beautiful, a tiny fishing town only accessible by sea, air or tunnel. Suitably, here it is shown through a smaller tunnel created by some old machinery outside the (closed) Herring Museum:

    Moving on across the fjords towards Stykkishólmur, we made a bumpy detour to Hvítserkur, a small but impressive arch just off the coast:

    Just opposite it in the cliffs was a small waterfall which had bought some rather nicely coloured stones down to the beach:

    Having finished off the north coast (for this trip at least), we headed south along road 1 before cutting up through a mountain pass towards Stykkishólmur. The despite the road showing up as green on road.is, it was some of the scariest driving in the trip so far — lots of snow on thin mountain roads. Thinking that André’s careful driving had got us through the worst, we pressed on, only to run into even worse weather! Eventually made it to Stykkishólmur and a trendy little hostel on the harbour.

    Tomorrow: Snæfellsness and back home to Reykjavík!

  4. Best thing about today’s travelling though? The wind. Although it prevented us from going north in the morning, it was some of the most amazing wind I’ve experienced yet. Seeing it via blown snow patterns was particularly satisfying.

  5. Day 3 around : churches, horses, REINDEER, snow, mountains, caves, more snow, more snow, mountains, Akureyri.

    Started out in Egilsstaðir, were going to head straight up north but the roads were closed so took a detour around a river+up a valley. Some more nice waterfalls, nothing so large as the previous days but just as much character:

    First interesting animal sighting of the day: Reindeer from afar!

    upon a mountain slope, several small, lightly coloured quadrupeds are shown

    Followed quickly by a closer animal sighting, some beautiful Icelandic horses:

    several stout horses stand in a group before a mountainside

    er, halló hrós! Make that much closer:

    a horse gets a little bolder, approaching the car — then MUCH bolder, nuzzling against the window

    Then off to Mývatn and the Grjótagjá geothermal caves, with one of the most unstable looking entrances I’ve ever seen at a tourist destination:

    The caves are impressive from the inside but can only really be appreciated once viewed from above:

  6. Second day around not as good weather as the first but excellent nontheless — unlocked various achievements:

    • ran around on moss as far as the eye can see
    • picked up hitchhiker
    • learnt French word for “superstitious”
    • touched glacier
    • walked on iceberg which then cracked
    • saw seals frolicking amongst icebergs
    • saw hexagonal basalt columns

    The moss plains were unreal, hundreds of square kilometres of landscape straight out of Nausicäa of the Valley Of Wind — compare:

    Ice pool:

    Mini iceberg:

    No glacier-breaking sound recordings unfortunately as I didn’t get a chance to make a hydrophone — next time! Also, many panoramas to follow when I’m back home and in photo-stitching mode.

  7. First day on trip round resounding success, many amazing things seen, photos taken, gravel walked in. Got back to Vík and all the food places were closed so ate a tortilla with peanut butter and crumbled choc chip cookie. Sufficient, minimum viable nourishment.