Sunday, 17 June 2012

Iceland Day 4 – Snaefellsnes with Extreme Iceland Tours

Bjorn picked me up with a small bus that had more travellers than the big bus from yesterday did. This tour took us north and west onto the Snaefell peninsula. This area is not a hot area, but it does have its own glacier (Snaefellsjokull) and a few craters of extinct craters. And the views around this area are spectacular!
What I didn’t like with this tour was that we didn’t stop for photos often enough. There were some views that were so amazing and because of the bus format, I couldn’t take them out of the window properly. And the fact that I had to pay cash was not good, especially since the site said we could pay cash or card. Bjorn told us he didn’t have a card. The ATM fee of $9.47 for the withdrawal was not welcome, especially since we could pay any-and-everything by card normally – including a $2 cup of coffee!
Anyway…We drove past Mosfellsbaer and through the toll tunnel in the direction of Bogarnes. The tunnel has reduced the travel time into Reykjavik by an hour, making it easier for people to commute into Reykjavik for work.
Our first stop was at a service station in Bogarnes where I decided to try one of the diamond-shaped donut-type pastries. Fortunately, it’s not very sweet, but very yummy. I took a couple of photos while waiting for everybody else:
Next stop was to visit with some Icelandic horses (there are no horses other than Icelandic horses in Iceland, mind you! Importation of horses is prohibited!):
We stopped at a little house right next to a waterfall. i don't know where exactly this was and unless the name is spelled out, it's in one ear and out the other. It was pretty though:
Waterfall by a house
Past more mountains and craters:
We drove past these basalt columns at Gerduberg. They reminded me of the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland:
Gerduberg basalt column cliffGerduberg basalt column cliff
There were also different coloured rock and lava at Gerduberg....and sheep:
sheep Gerduberg Gerduberg Gerduberg GerdubergGerduberg
We could see Snaefellsjokull glacier from the road:
Next stop was at the Olkelduvatn mineral spring. This pours out natural healthy mineral waters that are naturally carbonated. It tasted like blood, I thought :-) But it was interesting! Bjorn, our guide, had to drink twice as much to make up for his bad habits (see picture!):
Bjorn, our guide, at Olkelduvatn mineral spring
We stopped for lunch at this nice little restaurant at Guesthouse Langaholt. Bjorn got in trouble for not announcing us, but we were served quickly enough. We had a nice cat fish soup - it had great flavour but the fish was sparse. It came with bread so I ate quite a few slices to fill up. A few of the others had the catfish with vegies and that looked delicious! The owner of the restaurant came and spoke to Bjorn and joked with us. He was quite a character, dressed like a cowboy.
After lunch, we went outside to watch the chef fillet some catfish and other fish for the dinner menu. The local catfish is nothing like the catfish in the States or Australia. Looks vicious!:
the chef preparing our lunch cat fish - our lunch
The restaurant is surrounded by a golf course! Apparently, it's a big thing over there:
DSC04377  DSC04374Snaefellsjokull glacier
Next stop was Budahraun by an old wooden church which was being used as a wind-break by a local group's picnic:
We wandered around the dunes in various directions. It was all very picturesque:
Budahraun Budahraun Budahraun  Budahraun Budahraun Budahraun Budahraun Budahraun Budahraun   Budahraun Budahraun
There were some structures that I assume are some sort of emergency storm shelters:
We had a photo-stop for some spectacular scenery:
DSC04449 DSC04450 DSC04451 DSC04453 DSC04455
Next stop was on a beach known for its arctic terns. They're mean critters and will attack your head if your go near their nest. Sounds like plovers! Bjorn was holding a stick above his head for the birds to attack. He says you can tell the locals because they're the ones with sticks!:
arctic terns
More scenery:
We continued on and had a toilet stop at Hellisandur because someone was interested in the maritime museum (since it's mentioned in the brochure I suppose) but Bjorn had never been inside and didn't realise there wasn't even a toilet available. We ended up at another museum which only had one toilet....the stop turned out to be longer than we thought, I reckon, waiting for everyone to have their turn at the dunny. I wandered around and took photos (you'll be surprised to know, I'm sure!):
 Hellisandur Hellisandur tulips at Hellisandur
Next stop was the Saxholl crater. It doesn't look very big, but we climbed it and .... it's a bit of a hike! And it was cold. Damn cold.:
at Saxholl crater at Saxholl crater at Saxholl crater
But the views from the top were fantastic!:
at Saxholl crater at Saxholl crater at Saxholl crater at Saxholl crater at Saxholl crater at Saxholl crater at Saxholl crater at Saxholl crater at Saxholl crater at Saxholl crater 
Next stop was at Djupalonssandur. This had a bit of a boardwalk, but the rest of it was climbing over lava down to the black volcanic sand beach and the weird lava structures sticking up out of the sea. Very beautiful:
Djupalonssandur Djupalonssandur Djupalonssandur Djupalonssandur Djupalonssandur
There was another local family all rugged up and having a picnic among the dunes:
The next stop was at Birdcaves near Arnarstapi. Here we had a coffee and cake. Even I had cake: the local skyrcake - very much like cheesecake. Apparently it was low sugar. Ummmm. It was yummy though :-) The view from up here across the caves and the sea was very nice:
DjupalonssandurDjupalonssandur Djupalonssandur Djupalonssandur Djupalonssandur Djupalonssandur Djupalonssandur Djupalonssandur Djupalonssandur Djupalonssandur Djupalonssandur Djupalonssandur Djupalonssandur
Just before we were about to leave, someone spotted Orca whales. One of the group had binoculars so everyone was having a look. I didn't bother trying to photograph anything because nothing would've been recognizable.
After this, it was just about time to head home. I took some photos out the side of the bus because I just couldn't resist the wonderful scenery:
Birdcaves near Arnarstapi Birdcaves near Arnarstapi Birdcaves near Arnarstapi Birdcaves near Arnarstapi DSC04658 DSC04660
Snaefellsjokull glacier's cloud cover had lifted, so it was time to take some more photos:
Snaefellsjokull glacier
Then past more mountains and pastures and waterfalls, cute towns and lovely bays:
DSC04669 DSC04672 DSC04675 DSC04678 DSC04682 DSC04688 DSC04693 DSC04698 DSC04700 DSC04703
And then I was back home - after withdrawing cash at the Hilton hotel :-(
We were 2 hours late, it being 9pm when I arrived, so it was too late for dinner at Glo and I just couldn't be bothered to go out for dinner. Harpa was so nice and offered to make me something, but she had guests downstairs so I didn't want to impose on her time. I ended up having a few crispbreads with butter and that did the job of filling me up a bit. I continued to work on my netbook and admired the sunset going on around midnight:
sunset over Reykjavik 105 seen from the Town House kitchen
I found the way the darkness didn't come at all fascinating! But even though I didn't have a tour booked for Sunday, I had plans to go into Reykjavik for the day so I toddled off to bed around 1am.