Iceland (V): From Borgarnes to Akureyri, Part I (North)

It was the fourth day, we continued to circle the Ring Road to the north.  It was about 200 miles from Borgarnes to Akureyri, we made multiple stops at Bifröst, Blönduós, Glaumbær, Hofsós, Siglufjörður, Dalvík and finally Akureyri.

Our first stop was Grabrok Crater at Bifröst, 30 minutes north of Borgarnes.

Grabrok was a volcanic crater.  Newly built paths circled the entire crater rim, with the panoramic view of the surrounding areas.

To the north, beautifully shaped mountains.

Bifrost Grabrok Crater 2

To the west, a crater with similar shape and size.

Bifrost Grabrok Crater5

To the south, it was the small village Bifröst–beautiful but no rainbow bridge to Asgard.

Bifrost Grabrok Crater6

And the winding road we drove on a few minutes ago.

This site would be much nicer visit in a clear and calm day.  For a few instants, I was afraid to get blown into the crater pit by the wind! Other than that it was really fun to walk around the rim.

Bifrost Grabrok Crater7

Back to the road, there were many farm animals grazing under the big Icelandic sky–cows, horses, and lot of sheep.

Blonduos2

Do you know there are about 800,000 sheep and lambs in Iceland, a country with the population of just 323,000?!  To our surprise, most of the sheep we saw were small group of 3 to 5, not a large flock.

Our next town was Blönduós.  We saw kids jumping on a rainbow “trampoline”.

Here was our first encounter of black sand beach.  Cold and windy, we were the only souls on the beach! Haha yes, silly tourists.

Continuing north, we caught sight of a forest of young trees. There were the first seedlings we saw since arrival to this country.  Later on we learned from the museum guide that a great effort of replanting was on going in the country.  Most of the young trees were imported from oversea.  Can you imagine the island used to be covered by forests before human settled here?  It was understood that woods were cut down to use as fuels to combat cold.

Glaumbaer1

Another phenomenon we found out unique to Iceland: the center of any settlement, such as a village, a small town even just a couple of houses, was always a church.  Many churches were simple and in the same style: white body with red roof and a steeple.

Our next stop was Glaumbær in Skagafjörður. We went to visit a classic turf farm-museum.  You see, a church in the town center.

The farm museum was very interesting, the houses were covered with sods and grass.

There were at least 12 rooms connecting together, bedrooms for the farmer and his wife and their children, kitchen, storage rooms and many more.  The yellow brick building was a gift shop with a cozy cafe.

To be continued…

Iceland (IV): the Snæfellsjökull National Park (West)

One of the highlights of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula was the Snæfellsjökull National Park.  There are only three national parks in Iceland, the Snæfellsjökull NP is the small one in the west.  It is a must-see in my opinion.

We drove to the Snæfellsnes peninsula from Borgarnes. The scenery was stunning.

Every turn provided photo moments!

Mountains and no-name waterfalls.

Our plan for the morning was to visit three coastal towns–Arnarstapi, Hellnar and Londrangar and hiked in those areas.

We reached our first destination, Arnarstapi, in about one hour.

Arnarstapi was like a paradise on Earth! The beauty of her coastal cliffs blew my mind!

arnarstapi 5

I’d let the pictures do the talking…

This monument was to represent the guardian spirit Bardur Snæfellsas, the legendary deity of Mt. Snæfell.  According to the Saga, Bardur Snaefellsas was a descendant of giant and men, local people believe his spirit live in the Snaefellsjokull, a volcano mountain covered with glacier.

hellnar 1

From Arnarstapi you could hike to the next town Hellnar along the striking coastal trail.  We didn’t want to come back to get our car, so we only hiked half way, then drove to Hellnar instead.

I have no idea what Hellnar means in Icelandic, but the pebbles, the caves and the rock patterns down there were from a different world!

hellnar 3

The daredevil inside of me decided to walk to the top of the bridge.

The view was stunning, but I had to come down before the vertigo turned my legs to spaghetti noodles!

See the path between the red house (a nice local restaurant) and the blue house, that was the hiking trail to Arnarstapi.

Our next stop was Londrangar Basalt cliffs.

You could hike all the way to the lighthouse.

Near the parking lot was the unobstructed view of the Mt. Snaefell.

If you are interested in the rest of our journey through Snaefellsness Peninsula, please check my previous blogs.

About West Iceland:

(1) We stationed in Borgarnes for two nights while touring the West Iceland, which saved us two hours of round trip per day since we didn’t stay in Reykjavik.  Our Airbnb in Borgarnes was lovely.

(2) Since it was late July, the sky was not fully dark at 2:30 am (below top right) and the Sunrise at 4 am (lower right).  An eye-mask is a must if you want to get some sleep since the Icelandic curtains were not blocking any light.

(3) Our first day’s itinerary included hiking the Glymur,  Hraunfossar and Barnafoss and Krauma thermo bath at Reykholt.  And we had Snæfellsnes Peninsula and Viking sushi tour in Stykkisholmur on the second day.  Because sushi tour was in the afternoon at 3:30, we had to sacrifice Djúpalónssandur Beach and Skarðsvík Beach.  In retrospect, we could have made it if we got up an hour earlier, but we were on vacation…

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