Ring Road Day 6: North Iceland
- September 28, 2019
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We woke up in Siglufjordur to very strong winds and the temperature was around 35 deg F. As soon as we woke up, I realized the weather is not conducive to hiking. We’ve hiked in much colder weather in Finland, but we were better prepared. Also, hiking up a mountain or near a cliff in such windy condition isn’t safe. We had coffee and smoked arctic char while watching water birds in the fjord from our huge warehouse Airbnb.
Everything in Iceland is expensive except smoked arctic char. It’s actually the only thing that was half the price and better quality. We snacked on it every single day. The grocery store in Siglufjordur also had smoked whale meat. We got some bread and mayo to make sandwiches. We had picnic by the fjord in Troll peninsula. Smoked whale meat and smoked arctic char sandwiches. They tasted delicious and saved us some money.
Smoked whale meat tasted kind of like a brisket with a fishy smell and texture. The flavors were intense on it’s own but in a sandwich, it was delicious. We started driving towards Blonduos where we’ll be spending the night. We made a few stops along the way but it was very windy and cold so we didn’t stay outside for too long. We stopped by a few fishing villages but all the fish markets were closed.
We had lunch at Solvik in Hofsos. We had shrimp and egg salad with homemade rye bread and homemade butter. The shrimp was the freshest I’ve ever had. The eggs were so delicious and perfectly boiled. The taste of eggs is so different when the chickens aren’t kept in cages and allowed to roam around on a huge farm. For dessert we had Icelandic pancake which is more like a crepe. It was filled with chocolates, fresh blue berries, and homemade ice cream. Once again, the ice cream was just so good. Another great meal in Iceland.
Hofsos, a seaside village, is one of the oldest trading trading post in Iceland. There is an infinity pool with beautiful views of the ocean and lots of places to walk/hike around. The thermal pool in town is also another option if you want to relax. This part of Iceland offers boat tours where you catch your own fish and they cook it for dinner. Tour companies take you out to sea, provide all the fishing gear and you catch your own dinner.
There are plenty of fish in the sea so from what I read, everyone catches at least one fish. Most people end up catching 2 or 3 fish. We wanted to do this but I didn’t feel like going in the ocean with such strong winds. Some of the tour companies had cancelled their trip because of the weather. It would have been a fun experience if it wasn’t for gale force winds.
One of the stops we made was so beautiful with water on both sides of the road but I could hardly stand still because of the wind. Needless to say, we got back in the car VERY fast. I’ve never experienced such strong wind before. The water was such a beautiful turquoise color. It reminded me of the Caribbean except for the cold. I think the temperature had dropped to around 35 deg F (about 2 deg C).
Our next stop was Saudarkrokur, another fishing village in northwest Iceland. This town has the highest rate of horses per capita in Iceland. Since the weather was not on our side, we started to look for indoor activities. We found a small and wonderful exhibit called Puffin and Friends. The entry fee was about $15/person. We were the only people in the whole place.
The person who took the pictures, videos, and curated the whole exhibit gave us a tour himself. The exhibit was small but very educational. The tour starts our with pollution, climate change, and how everyone can help. We learned about puffins, polar bears, other animals and how they’re impacted because of climate change. Polar bears do not live in Iceland but are commonly spotted in Iceland. They cross the sea ice from Greenland.
Now, because of the melting ice caps, very few polar bears survive the swim from Greenland to Iceland. The few that do make it to Iceland are very weak and usually die soon after crossing the water. For Puffins, they have to travel farther and farther to find food for their new born babies. It takes them so long to get back with food that some of the young die because of hunger.
But on a positive note, Puffins form monogamous, long distance relationships and they mate for life. They spend most of the year apart at sea and meet in spring by their burrow. The male arrives about a week early to prepare and clean out the burrow before the female arrives. If the female is late in arriving, the male takes a new mate but if the original partner returns, he kicks out the new mate. This kind of loyalty is unique among birds.
The exhibit ends with an amazing VR experience that shows different regions of Iceland in different times of the year. It was most fun to look at Puffins from different angles. Overall it was a fun and educational exhibit. Totally worth the price. Since the weather gods were not cooperating, we decided to just drive to our next Airbnb and relax there. We were staying on a horse farm so it should be fun. Here are pictures of horses.
On our way to the Airbnb, we stopped by a grocery store and picked up hardfiskur, dried cod. It’s a traditional snack in Iceland and it’s typically dipped in butter to soften it up. It tasted delicious. I guess it’s kind of like their jerky but healthier if you don’t dip it in butter. Our Airbnb family has a horse farm and they own about 50 horses. They told us we can go near the fence and pet the horses if they come close. Here’s a video of me petting the horses.
The host assured me that all the horses are very friendly and it’s perfectly safe to approach them and pet them. It was fun to watch and pet these horses but overall, I’d advise spending more time near lake Myvatn, Seydisfjordur, or Siglufjordur. There are many other places, especially on Golden Circle, where you can pet Icelandic horses. The only thing I wish I could have done in north Iceland was catch my own dinner.
I wanted to stay up to watch the sunset but decided to sleep around 12:45 am. We wanted to get an early start and hope the weather improves on our drive. We’ll be exploring Snaefellsnes peninsula. For my latest adventures, follow me on Instagram @rupal.kakkad.