Jul 09 2019

Snæfellsnes

Published by at 12:03 pm under Travel

Monday, July 1, 2019

We were glad we had reserved two nights at this particular AirBnB, since it was so comfortable, scenic and remote. It’s in Útnesvegur in western Iceland on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula where, all day and night, the icy winds howled from snowy mountain to ocean without cease. The sun barely pierced the chill. I was glad for my layers of wool and down, and my stylish turquoise blue earmuffs.

By 8:45 in the morning we were back on the road, aiming toward Snæfellsnes (“snow mountain peninsula”) National Park, with Molly again at the wheel. She loves driving as much as I hate it. We wound westward along the narrow paved road and, as yesterday, stopped every few kilometers when there was turnout or gravel road leading to possibilities. We passed lots of sheep. Someone told us that they tend to cluster in threes, and strangely, more often than not, that was true. Oh, well now: maybe it’s not so strange after all. I just Googled “Why do sheep cluster in threes?” (I’m not very sophisticated with my search terminology) and found a viable answer. Icelandic lambs generally give birth to twins, so what we were seeing were ma and children.

Reaching the turnoff for the little fishing village of Arnarstapi, we parked, grabbed our cameras, and set off down a little footpath along the craggy coastline, with views of volcanic mountains and sea.

Arnarstapi, with Mount Stapafell in foreground, Snæfellsjökull in back

We crossed into the national park, and strolled along the black basalt cliffs of Lóndrangar.

Though the day was still young, our assorted scenic stops began to blur in my mind. Without my travel journal as reference, I would now be unable to tell you a thing more. A further aid was the geolocation service on Molly’s iPhone camera, which labeled each photo with the impossible-to-remember (and barely possible-to-pronounce) places names. Like Djúpalónssandur, which we encountered a wee bit further out the road. It’s a black pebble beach near Hellnar and its name means “black lava pearl beach.” There, in the 1940s, an English ship wrecked, rusted evidence of which is still scattered everywhere. We left the beach just in time, as a massive busload of tourists, speaking I think German, appeared at the trailhead.

Next, a short, easy hike up to the top of Saxhóll, a crater with red scree slopes.

A bit further on, Skarðsvík, a rare-for-this-area golden sand beach.

By this time our stomachs were grumbling, so we drove on to the village of Ólafsvík and had a delicious (and absurdly expensive, like everyplace here) lunch at a pleasant and well-attended restaurant called Hraun. I ordered the fish of the day—bleikja, known to me as Arctic char—that was perfect. We picked up provisions at the local grocery store, and made our first visit to what became my favorite shop: Vínbúðin, the state liquor store. For a mere $20, I snagged me a six-pack of Úlfur (“the wolf”) IPA Nr. 3, an Icelandic microbrew. We took a different route “home,” along a partly gravel road that wiggled behind snow-covered Snæfellsjökull.

Taking advantage of our AirBnB’s being a horse farm, at the last minute we got ourselves on the list for a short ride down to the ocean. It left half an hour later. In the corral, I begged the leader to assign me a “beginner horse.” Though I used to ride some when I was young, these days, the ground seems further away, and beasts less predictable. My horse may or may not have been an easy one to ride as a rule, but on this afternoon she was having a bad day. “It’s like she’s on her period,” the young woman guide told me. I was warned not to let the horse behind me get too close, because mine had a tendency to get cranky and kick whatever invaded her personal space. Despite my asking the rider following me—right on our tail—please to back off, he kept doing it. “So how will I know if my horse is going to kick?” I asked the guide as the horse behind nosed the butt of my steed. My horse swished her tail back and forth and twitched her ears. The guide’s reply, “Uh, actually, yeah, what she’s doing now, that means she’s about to kick.” I spent as much time looking nervously behind me as around me at the scenery. Finally they plunked me at the rear of the line, which was better for horse, me, and possible kickee. My horse was stubborn as hell and didn’t want to listen to me when I tried to steer and brake. She knew perfectly well she had a clueless rider on her back.

[Photo by Molly]

We returned to the warmth of our cabin where I tried and enjoyed an Úlfur. At 9:00 p.m. we struggled with the stove and made pasta for dinner. The sky was still bright when we turned in close to midnight.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Snæfellsnes”

  1. Molly says:

    Neat! I didn’t know what Snæfellsnes meant. Now I do.

    “Icelandic lambs generally give birth to twins, so what we were seeing were ma and children.”
    Don’t you mean BAAA and children? Ha ha ha.

    Oooh, your Saxhóll photo came out great.

  2. Elana says:

    Dawww icelandic lamb twins! Those landscapes are incredible. The black basalt and crater are so exotic looking and I love how wide open everything seems. Glad you made it off your menstruating caballo safely. <3

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