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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Snæsfelljökull National Park

Morning: cereal, shower, and pack up - we were only at the first AirBnB for two nights. Today we headed out to Snæsfelljökull National Park. This is about a two hour drive northwest of Reykjavik. You head out Route 1, through the Hvalfordur tunnel, hang a left at Borgarnes, and keep driving. Eventually you make another left in the middle of nowhere and keep going. Finally you arrive at the gates of the park. On our way out there was the first time I've actually seen sheep roaming free rather than in pastures.

Our first stop was at Londrangar, a pair of basalt plugs from a volcano that has since weathered away. Apparently there is good bird-watching there. Unfortunately, it was raining sideways all day. I took a little video, but not much; the camera I brought, a DJI Osmo, is not terribly waterproof. We stopped by the lighthouse and visitor center (not open on a Sunday) at Malarrif, before we continued on to Dritvik.

Dritvik is the site of a British fishing trawler, the Epine, running aground in 1948. According to the signs on the beach, five of the 19 crew members were rescued alive by local rescue crews. Bits and pieces of the wreckage are still on the beach. Much different than an American site, where the pieces would have to be secured with multi-ton concrete anchors and chains for fear they would walk away in a tourist's trunk. We made our way down to the beach and out to the water's edge. Nick and Rachael decided they wanted to touch the water, but they were unable to avoid the breakers, and were lost at sea thoroughly soaked. So was one member of a couple taking their engagement photos on the beach - she got water up past her knees and almost knocked over.

At this point we were all soaking wet, getting cold and hungry, and the weather showed no signs of abating, so we decided to head back to Reykjavik. On the way back there was a little cafe way Vegamot where we had some hot chocolate and a quick lunch - bacon, mozzarella, and arugula on a sesame seed bagel for me and Mom, a bacon cheeseburger for Nick and Rachael. The fry sauce was incredible - or maybe we were just more hungry than we'd thought.

Once we cleared the tunnel on the way back, we texted Ari, the host at our second AirBnB. He met us there - it's a much larger third floor apartment right on a little harbor (think 25' sailboats, not cargo ships) on the northeast corner of the city. Separate bedrooms for everyone this time - I am in the loft. Ari is also a driver for one of the expedition companies, so he's going to take us out on the Golden Circle on Wednesday morning - that's Geysir, Gullfoss, and Thingvellar National Park. Geysir is the original geyser, Gullfoss is the largest waterfall in Iceland, and Thingvellar is where the original parliament started meeting over a thousand years ago. The Althingi claims to be the oldest deliberative governing body in the world, though I understand there are some doubts as to the continuity between that body and the current parliament. You can also stand on two different continental plates in the park.

So far, our schedule for the rest of the week is as follows:

Monday, relax in the morning, do laundry, go into town for some geocaching, Blue Lagoon in the afternoon.
Tuesday, horseback riding in the morning, afternoon TBD.
Wednesday, Golden Circle in the morning (early - Ari has to take bus driver training in the afternoon), afternoon TBD.

Thursday and Friday are still up in the air, though Friday we move up to Akureyri, so most of the day will be spent on the road.

Still to do: souvenirs for the friends and work colleagues back at home. Stuffed puffins and Brennevin from the duty-free at the airport, maybe.

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