Friday, July 24, 2009

Reykjavík --> Garðar/ Snæfellsnes

Photos: (1) Painted hay bales at Hvalfjörður; (2) old house at Borganes; (3) Lýsuhólslaug; (4) beach at Garðar

Ernesto arrived yesterday, escaping the 30°C (86°F) temps back home in Germany to a pleasant 10°C (50°F) in Reykjavík. Had dinner at the new tapas restaurant – quite interesting to have tapas of all Icelandic ingredients, including lamb, puffin and whale. After a brief bit of grocery shopping this morning, we’re finally on the road. The car is a 4-wheel drive of an unknown model type, and the papers in the glovebox claim it’s Korean. Throughout the next two weeks, we will never see another one like it.

The journey takes us out of Reykjavík to the north along road #1 along Esja, then through the long fjord Hvalfjörður where we stop a few times for pictures. We skip Akranes, but make a quick stop in Borganes for coffee before continuing north up road #54 to the Snæfellsnes peninsula. I visited Snæfellsnes briefly in May of 2005, but the weather was mostly unpleasant, so this time I’m looking forward to seeing a bit more of the scenery. The landscape between Akranes and Borganes is a bit dull und doesn’t get interesting until close to Snæfellsnes when the lava fields begin. Since we got a late start out of Reykjavík, our first task as we enter Snæfellsnes is to find a place to camp. We pull off the road to check out Laugargerðiskóli, which according to the map offers both camping and swimming. A quick look proves it to be a larger hotel with busses parked in front of it, so we continue on. According to the free map that we have, there’s another combination campsite/swimming pool at Lýsuhóll. After close inspection, there’s no campsite to be found, but the swimming pool is open and we have a look inside. Beautiful! We’ll come back later for a swim! The lady inside says the map we are using is 10 years old (it’s one of the free ones available at gas stations and the information center in Reykjavík), so we can expect many things to be inaccurate on it.

We head back east a bit to the campsite Garðar, which is small and quaint, right on the sea. The wind is very strong as we set up our tents, and although it stays dry along the coast, just on the other side of the road it rains all evening. We return to the pool for a wonderful swim, the water is a bit chilly but the hotpot at 38°C is just right. With the mountains in the background and a cold drizzle in our faces, it’s the perfect thing to do after a long day of driving. Back at the campsite, we struggle with the disposable grill in the wind but somehow manage to cook our lamb and garlic bread. Then we take a walk along the brown sandy beach before crawling into our sleeping bags.