Saturday, June 11, 2011

Garður, Reykjanes

Photos: (1-2) Camspite and lighthouse at Garðaskagi; (3) Sandgerði lighthouse; (4) Hvalsneskirkja; (5) Stavnesviti

It’s 6°C/43°F on arrival in the wee hours of the morning and there’s not a cloud in the sky. I grab some food for breakfast at the airport’s 24-hr grocery store and pick up some things at the Duty Free. Getting the rental car is no problem and I only have to decide what kind of extras and insurance I want. I decide against the new trend of “sand and volcanic ash” insurance, which some companies have started offering after the recent volcanic eruptions. My little Toyota Yaris is silver and I like it immediately. After tossing everything in the back seat, I drive the to Garður (population of 1450) which is only about 10 km away. I arrive at the free campsite at Garðaskagi point, surrounded by the ocean, a fabulous sky with no clouds and midnight sun. The campsite provides electricity for caravans, flush toilets and hot water. After a short walk, I crawl into the back seat with my sleeping bag for a short nap.

But I’m too excited to sleep and finally give up at 8am. There are about 4 campers here and the first day trippers start to arrive. Since the next two days are bank holidays, my first task is to drive into the village for food and gas for cooking. The supermarket is well-stocked and I find everything I need, and the gas station has one cannister of Primus gas for the stove. Now off to the swimming pool for a dip!

The outdoor pool is nice, with two hotpots and a sauna. I meet a friendly African lady who speaks perfect Icelandic. We talk for a long time and she tells me her story of meeting her Icelandic husband and emmigrating to Iceland, and in the end, we exchange email addresses as well.

Now that I’m squeaky clean, it’s time to explore a bit. I drive to Sandgerði and have a look at their campsite. Although the facilities are nice with showers, it’s just a green spot of grass in town and not nearly as charming as the remote lighthouse site at Garður. I continue the drive down Road 45, past a large area reserved for the nesting of eiderdown ducks, to the old church at Hvalsnes. Further down the road, I again leave the car at Stafnesviti lighthouse for a hike to Básendar. Once an important commercial center for trading dried fish, this marketplace was swept away by a huge tidal wave in 1799. Only a few rocks are left as ruins.

It’s chilly but the sun comes out between the clouds for a few minutes and I can’t resist the temptation to lie in the grass, sheltered by large boulders from the wind, and take a short nap. There’s nothing I love more than napping in the outdoors! But it gets cold quickly and rain is coming and as I hike back to the car the sky opens in a downpour.

I head back to the camspite at Garðaskagi, this time setting up my tent. It’s about 12°C (54°F), nice enough for an outdoor dinner at the picnick table. After finishing some hot soup, it begins to rain and I crawl into the tent to sit out the downpour. Indeed it only lasts a short time, so I go out for another short walk before crawling into my sleeping bag early at 8pm. A perfect day!