Iceland in Words – Day 8
Day eight started out like every other day thus far on the trip, with a delicious and filling breakfast. You may have noticed that I’ve rarely mentioned the lunches I’ve eaten, but that is because I haven’t had many. All of the accommodations I stayed at have provided delicious breakfast buffets and Hofsstaðir was no different. Toti once again had place settings all laid out for the seven of us staying there the previous night.
I didn’t really put much time into learning the Icelandic language prior to my trip as their schools ensure that most residents are fluent in English. I still familiarized myself with a couple words like “yes” (já), “no” (nei), “thank you” (takk), “hello” (halló), and “goodbye” (bless). The only particular language barrier I encountered was on the drive from Hofsstaðir to the sights I’d be seeing on the eighth day. Slowing down due to an approaching tractor, the farmer’s two dogs decide to make a beeline for the front of my car. After coming to a stop just in time, I tried asking the farmer where one of the dogs had ended up. I didn’t really want to start driving if the dogs were still sniffing at my front bumper. Unfortunately all I got was a blank stare from the farmer in response.
The cone-shaped hillocks of Vatnsdalshólar were pretty much exactly what I was expecting, though it surprised me to see the hill littered all over private property. I guess you can’t just block of that much land. There are so many of them, that the hills are in fact deemed “uncountable”.
Next on the schedule was Borgarvirki, a volcanic plug that had been used as a natural fortress for centuries by the Icelandic people. I can definitely see why, as it towers over the surrounding landscape and provides an excellent vantage point from which to spot enemy threats miles away. The plug itself has been altered by humans over the years to better support its occupation, which includes evidence of a well within the structure.
While many of the other days of my trip featured some sort of waterfall or glacier, interesting geological formations were the most prominent focus of day eight. The next one I saw was Hvítserkur, which looks as though its the lone remaining wall of a building overtaken by the sea. The basalt rock formation is in fact completely natural and as is usually the case with Icelandic landmarks, is tied with its own set of mythology. This particular formation is thought to be the hardened remains of a troll who got caught in the sun. It doesn’t look like Tom, Bert or William to me, but to each their own. From other pictures I’ve seen it’s actually possible to walk near the formation, however the tide was fairly high when I encountered it.
My accommodations for the night were located on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Like the peninsula I drove around on day seven, Iceland’s Ring Road does not include Snæfellsnes which resulted in a long and bumpy drive. At the end of the peninsula is the glacier Snæfellsjökull, the namesake of the national park within which it is contained. From the parts that I saw, the national park was an absolutely beautiful mossy green. On a clear day the glacier can actually be seen from Reykjavik, however on this particular day the fog obscured all but the foot of it from the road.
Part of the national park includes Djúpalónssandur, a sandy beach that was once a major fishing village in Iceland. All that remains these days is wreckage from the Grimsby trawler, Epine and the lifting stones once used to judge whether men were strong enough to serve on the fishing boats. The signs mentioned four stones varying in weight from 23kg to 154 kg, which the sailors were required to lift and place on a shelf at hip height. There were more than just four stones littered around the sign so I couldn’t really tell which was which.
The rock formation Lóndrangar was the final stop of the day, and from the road it resembled a stone figure waving to the passers by. However upon viewing from further up the coast, I found that I was only seeing a fraction of the formation while driving. The pair of volcanic plugs rise out of the cliff as if they were a seaside castle, though that was not the case. Like Djúpalónssandur, Lóndrangar’s natural harbour was once used as a fishing village though it too has since been abandoned.
Hotel Hellnar was my accommodation for the night. Located in the village of the same name, this hotel was perhaps the highest quality locale that I stayed at during my time in Iceland. The room was a decent size, cosy, and the bathroom even had heated floors. The restaurant also had a beautiful view of the sea.
Highlight of the Day: Something about Borgarvirki, with its imposing nature over the surrounding landscape left me in awe. The panoramic view from the top of the fortress’ “walls” was amazing. I couldn’t help but imagine what the men would’ve seen and encountered while they were protecting it all those centuries ago.
Dinner: As classy as Hotel Hellnar, I was not overly impressed with the dinner I had there. I tried a blackened char with pepper, soya sauce and honey. I would chalk it up to a matter of of me being a bit too adventurous, and choosing a dish that didn’t fall within my tastes.