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The jewel in the crown: Snæfellsnes

Snæfellsnes is one of my favourite places in Iceland. Last year I spent almost two weeks there and this summer I was keen to go back and see some new places there as well as some old favourites.

Just a couple of hours from Reykjavík, Snæfellsnes is easily doable as a day trip but as I was coming from the Westfjords I decided to take the ferry from Brjánslækjar to Stykkishólmur. It takes about the same length of time as driving but at least you get to relax on the boat and though I didn’t get to stop off at Flatey (you can stop off for 3 hours if you get the ferry from and return to Stykkishólmur) it did look so pretty in the evening light. Arriving just at dusk I headed straight to the campsite just at the edge of town, despite the best of intentions I had not done any study since hiking in Hornstrandir but at least I can do all the usual tourist things in Icelandic easily enough now. Which often gets a double take, like I got from the nice guy at the golf course clubhouse which doubles as the reception for the campsite.

In just about everything, Iceland is a country of extremes. In the last week, I got both: “Hvaðan ertu?” “Irland” “Irland? Flott! Og havðan ertu að læra Íslensku?” “Hérna, bara með bók” “Já? Frábært!” and “Talarðu Íslensku?”, “Ég er að læra”, “Talar hann góða Íslensku?”, “Hann talar ekki Íslensku, ef þú vilt talar Íslensku, bara ég tala hún hér núna”. Basically, praise for learning it on my own out of a book and conversely “I only want to speak to someone who has good Icelandic” – well sorry buddy, if you want to speak it at all I’m your only option right now as he doesn’t have any.”

Anyway, frustrated rant aside, Stykkishólmur is a really pretty little town and one I didn’t get to visit last year, only a few minutes drive from the main road but a long walk. The little island just by the pier was joined to the mainland not that long ago and was previously used for sheep, but is now a lovely viewing point. Though the huge groups of cruise ship passengers and three drones did distract a bit from the peace and quiet. However, I badly needed to burn off my amazing breakfast of a creamy hot chocolate and waffle, which I justify with “I am an adult and if I want to eat sugar for breakfast I bloody well can!”

Heading along to the southern side of the peninsula there were a few places I hadn’t gotten to explore the last time like the picturesque church at Búðir (though swarmed with tourists, amusingly all taking the exact same photograph from the exact same spot – Instagram you have a lot to take responsibility for), watching the seals sunbathe at Ytri-Tunga and driving the mountain roads. There are a couple of hot springs like Lýsuhólslaug along this southern route too and a tonic water font at  Ölkelda, costing a few hundred krona which I didn’t pay as I just tasted the water and not like I filled a bottle. But this is the type of thing that people living in Iceland are getting sick of. There are quite a few of these ‘enterprising’ tourist stops aren’t exactly putting a lot into their sites, and while I didn’t mind paying when I was a tourist here, I do mind paying to visit a crater down the road three times in a row. Still, the water all along the peninsula is supposedly very good for a wide variety of skin and muscular complaints and I definitely felt better for having gone to the pool at Stykkishólmur.

Late in the afternoon, I arrived at Aarnarstapi, which is even more beautiful in wild moody weather. A few people were scattered about but it was strangely peaceful and quiet in the wind. There are a few more restaurants here now than I remember and I am in danger of turning into a burger at this point, but the little glass box of Stapinn serves really good food with friendly service.  After my usual digestive walk, I headed north stopping at the beach where I decided to move here and Kirkjufellfoss just as the light faded.

 

 

The winds were picking up but my little tent was fine overnight in Ólafsvík, but my lie-in meant I couldn’t pay for camping at the pool, which opened for an hour in the morning and then not until the evening. I went back to admire Kirkjufell, now known as “that mountain that was in Game of Thrones”, but the crap light and the many cars there didn’t keep me long and I headed off to another waterfall over by Hellissandur to sit and read and do nothing and then in a fit of energy repack the car, before I headed to Reykjavík for the weekend. Though it wasn’t as cold as other nights the weather wasn’t that great after my sunny morning and I honestly had gotten to the point where I was looking forward to some indoor sleeping arrangements and not living out of my car anymore.

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