End of the City
I spent most of the day walking around Reykjavik in the sunshine. It being Sunday, most of the stores were closed but by the time they’re all open tomorrow, I’ll be heading out of town and won’t be returning again to Reykjavik on this trip.
My hotel where I’m staying is about 10Km outside of town but in hindsight it might have been nice to stay in downtown Reykjavik for a few days and not have to drive anywhere, just walk from place to place. Reykjavik has a really good vibe to it and I could see myself liking to discover it in more depth.
But when planning to this trip to Iceland, Reykjavik was never going to be my focus. I only planned to stay here one night to recover from the long flight from Vancouver and want to have all my wits about me driving around the country over the next 12 days as the weather and road conditions are often unpredictable.
Dinner and Disco
Before I forget, I need to comment on the dinner experience I had last night here in Reykjavik.
After exploring some of Reykjavik in the morning and afternoon I planned to leave my hotel a bit later in the evening for a few reasons. I was still fighting jet lag and as it was going to be my first night in Iceland I wanted to force myself to stay up to my normal time. I’ve found that this usually resets my internal clock as fast as possible and I usually end up getting a good night’s sleep as a result.
The other reason was that I wanted to photograph the big cathedral, known locally as Hallgrímskirkja, at night. The photo above is what I was able to get and I think that it was worth coming back and taking this shot at night.
But getting back to the dinner, I was walking around random streets looking to have a seafood dinner and stumbled across this small restaurant called Fish and More. All the tables were full but I decided to wait and was really glad I did. As soon as I entered the restaurant, two things struck me simultaneously. First the aroma of what I later learned to be a delicious fish stew. And the 70’s disco music.
You have to imagine the scene where the disco music was playing the whole night and while I was enjoying my fish stew the servers, when not serving anyone, were singing along and dancing to the music. Although I was eating alone, the restaurant had this really unique, welcoming atmosphere and I highly recommend it, but only if you’re into disco.
Fish and More restaurant. Skólavörðustígur 23, Reykjavik. (location on Google maps)
Before leaving Reykjavik, I decided that I was going to spend a few hours on an unplanned task. I drove 40 Km in the opposite direction to the car rental company and upgraded my car. The replacement car is much newer and in better condition than the original one that I had and definitely didn’t have 250,000 KMs on it. I even saw them put brand-new snow tires on the car before I drove it away. Best of all it’s a diesel engine so I expect to get much better fuel economy. The whole process took about two hours out of the day that I hadn’t planned to do but I now have a car that I’m confident will reliably get me through any kind of weather conditions over the remaining 12 days in Iceland.
From the car rental place, I then drove north about 230 Km to my next destination which is the small town of Ólafsvík, located on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula of Iceland. More of why I’ve chosen to be in this town in a minute.
Sidebar: I’m going to come clean and confess that I can’t properly pronounce about 99% of the Icelandic names. In almost every case I’m using the maps program on my iPhone to get around from place to place. I usually try to put more effort into learning the proper pronunciation of the places that we visit but the Icelandic language is definitely difficult.
The Unpredictable Iceland Weather
Before leaving home, I’d read a lot about the unpredictability of the weather here in Iceland. Yesterday, on my drive to Ólafsvík it was raining, sometimes really raining, and sunny 20 minutes later then raining again. According to the forecast, I might get snow today but I’m confident that my car’s all-wheel drive and brand-new snow tires will be up to the task.
One interesting point that I wanted to make was the check-in experience at the hotel that I’m staying at here in Ólafsvík. It’s the North Star Hotel Olafsvik and the unique part of it was that the check-in process was completely automated. I received an email a few days ago stating which room number I was in and the door code. When I arrived there was no one there and I just went up to my room, entered the access code on the keypad on the door and went in. There’s no room key and I have to use the code every time I want to get into my room. I assume that my access code will be disabled after check-out time when I leave tomorrow.
The Peninsula Again
I chose Ólafsvík as my base for the next two days to be close to all of the locations that I wanted to see here, everything being less than an hour’s drive away.
After arriving here from Reykjavik yesterday, I had one full day in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula area and it didn’t start out very well. This area of Iceland has some of the most spectacular scenery in the country and I had a full day’s agenda planned. Unfortunately, when I was only about 10 Km from the hotel it started to rain. Hard. Then came the wet driving snow.
It was looking really bad as I was huddled in my car with wet snow coming down and I was wondering if I was going to get any good photos at all in this part of Iceland.
In case you’re wondering, heavy rain and wet snow don’t usually result in any good photos.
Then the most miraculous thing happened. The clouds parted and the sun came out. And it stayed sunny for the rest of the day.
I covered a lot of ground today, not knowing if the rain and snow would come back at any minute. I got in one good hike for a couple of hours and the photos attached to this page are just a sample of the ones that I was able to capture today. Many times I drove around a bend in the highway and was treated to a spectacular viewpoint. Then another one 15 minutes down the road. I probably stopped my car by the side of the highway about 10-11 times today alone just to take photos. It was a good day and I’m really tired and glad to be back at my hotel.
Tomorrow I’ll be leaving Ólafsvík and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and will be making the longest drive of my Iceland trip, almost 430 Km to my next destination. I’ll be getting an early start and it’s hard to tell how many places I’ll stop along the way.
By the way, I’ve uploaded many of my photos to my photo website here: https://www.photos.excellentadventure.ca/Iceland-2018
I’ll check in within a few more days.