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Islands of the North Atlantic Trip report

Three tunnels, botanical gardens and a clear evening at a briliantly situated guest house

The coffe shop that I had high hopes for in Siglufjordur had decent coffee but not great English, and all of the pastries seemed to be variations on iced doughnut. Well customed by folk who looked like fishermen. It occurred to me that the further we get from Reykjavik the more likely it probably is that we’ll run into non-English speakers.

Soon after leaving, the road entered the first of two long tunnels that cut the points off the next two peninsulas. At four and seven kilometers long, they’re quite something. Nicely lit and two lane though, so easy. At Ólafsfjörður we drove to the waterfront for a walk around and leg stretch. On getting back into the car, it complained that the pressure was a bit low in the left rear tyre. Indeed it looked a bit low when we pulled over to have a look at it. While we were doing that, a man came out of the house beside us and asked if we needed help. When we explained our situation, he went into his garage and came out again armed with a pressure hose, with which he proceded to top up that tyre and check the others. Not a garage: just a helpful local. We’ll have to keep an eye on that one, I suppose, but most of the petrol stations we’ve come across are automated, and we haven’t found air hoses since then. Hmm.

A bit further along, past Ólafsfjörður, there is another tunnel, shorter, but single lane. High beam headlights, low speed, and keep ready to duck into a pull-out nook. Made it all the way through without encountering a car in the other direction, so whew.

Dalvik was the scheduled petrol station stop. No tyre air. The weather didn’t invite much further exploration at that stage.

Nice bit of coastal touring until we reached Modruvellir, which has a famous church, which had its photo taken.

By lunch time we reached Akureryi, Icelands seccond largest town. First stop supermarket for groceries for lunches, then on to town. We drove past the docks, to get a closer look at the four cruise ships we could see in the harbour, then went to park in the municipal car park near the centre of town. Lunch was had in a “gastro pub” that google found for us. Pretty decent food and a fifth-floor view of the surroundings, but not much style or atmosphere. The local “white” ale is very good. Can’t remember its name at the moment. After lunch we wandered through the pedestrian mall, and out to the interesting cultural centre building.

Akureryi also has a botanic gardens, next to the hospital, so we went for a look at that too. Nice gardens, in the traditional neatly-arranged style. Being next to a hospital I would guess that it might have been established to keep medicinal herbs, but now is mostly given over to local and arctic varieties of plants, many flowering. It started to rain, so our visit wasn’t long.

Since we were going well for time, we decided to include a stop at Godafoss waterfall, which was on our way. Very spectacular falls in three pieces, at the disjuncture of a river into two. And so thought seemingly thousands of other tourists. Pleasantly, the clouds chose that moment to part, and our photos have some blue sky and sunshine in them, along with all the brightly coloured parkas.

The guest house for the evening (and the next two) is on the west coast of the Tjörneshreppur peninsula, north of Husavik. Stunning location, at the foot of the cliffs, right near the water. Skies cleared, sunset was beautiful. Views clear across the fjord to the mountains on the other side. Dinner at the guest house was fresh-caught cod and vegetables, and was fantastic.

I had an early night, but Cath stayed up, hoping for aurora again, but I’m afraid was disappointed again. Woke several times during the night to check the skies for green glow, but no sign. Sigh.

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