Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tálknafjörður –-> Ísafjörður

Photos: (1) Reykjarfjörður pool; (2) Somewhere along road #63; (3) Fjord sheep; (4) Red road; (5) Fjord with Dynjandi in the background; (6-7) Dynjandi; (8) Café at Þingeyri

We pack up our tents in the rain this morning and leave while most other campers are still sleeping. No one seems too motivated to get up in this gloomy weather. But since it’s the first real day of rain I’ve had here in a month, I’m not discouraged yet. Rain is part of the game here in Iceland.

We continue along road #63 and the first town is Bíldudalur. We take a close look at the town and notice that they’re building a wall to protect against avalanches. I also notice an unusual number of very tall evergreen trees, ones that have certainly been there a very long time and were not just recently planted. In general, I come to notice this a lot on the Westfjords. Maybe it’s due to the sparse population and limit accessibility here that some trees survived the mass deforesting.

Shortly after Bíldudalur we come to a hotpot that we want to check out in Reykjarfjörður. It turns out to be a pool with a relatively cold water temperature. Surely not warm enough to enjoy on a cold rainy day. A couple of campers are parked there. We snap a few pictures and continue. I’ve been noticing today that the vegetation is a bit different in this part of the fjords. There’s lots of cottongrass and thick shrubs, some small lakes and rivers, and tall trees as already mentioned. In general, the fjords here are not quite as barren, making them a bit more colorful to look at. In fact, as we turn north on road #60, the road is deep red in spots, probably indicating high iron deposits.

As we near the series of waterfalls known as Dynjandi, the weather is dry, although still windy, cold and mostly cloudy. After pulling into the parking lot and already taking numerous pictures out the window, we first unpack our wet tents and spread them in the wind to dry, tying them to the car so they don’t blow away. There’s a campsite at the foot of the falls where we have a quick lunch. The facilities are basic, only toilets. We hike up the waterfall as far as we can, stopping often along the way for pictures. It’s absolutely gigantic.

The next stop on our route is Þingeyri, and we’re ready for some coffee so we find a quaint little cafe that has wonderful cake as well. In fact, it looks like the specialty of the house is homemade waffles, since there’s an old-fashioned waffle maker on the counter that’s obviously still in use. Like every other little café, regardless of how remote, it also has wireless internet.

Flateyri is the next village, and as the name says, it’s a flat peninsula stretching out into the fjord. We see a lot of fish drying huts in this part of the fjords. I tried some of the local dried fish, as opposed to mass packaged stuff you can buy in grocery stores, and the taste was amazingly better, fresher and juicier somehow. There’s a tunnel that goes to Suðureyri and we have a quick look at that town too. The clouds are pretty thick again, and the rain is back. We head to Ísafjörður.

It’s very dreary in Ísafjörður. The clouds are so thick and the rain is strong. We head to the tourist information center to ask about a room and are sent to the Hotel Edda. I’m sure glad we don’t have to camp in this weather. We decide to stay in two nights and take a break from all the driving. To rest up, we first head to the swimming pool, which is indoors but there’s not much else to do in this weather. The pool is a bit hard to find and we realize we’re just about to pass it. Ernesto steps on the breaks and puts the car in reverse and bang – smacks into a small car that was hidden from view by the high tail end of our SsangYong. The Icelandic girl lives just down the road, so we follow her home where she calls the police, since there’s a bit of damage to her tiny car. The mom and sister come out and all are laughing and not at all upset. It’s interesting sitting in an Icelandic police car, and all in all, I find the incident highly amusing. No worry, the insurance should cover everything.

Finally at the pool, we swim a few laps but mainly sit in the hotpot with a group of mixed foreign people. There’s free coffee, like I’ve seen in other pools. After the swim, we head to Hotel Ísafjörður for dinner. The puffin is caught locally on the island of Vigur, and although it’s a bad year for puffin in other parts of Iceland, this sounds like it will be tasty and fresh. At ISK 2750, I have to admit that the puffin was excellent, and a good buy as well!