Ring Road Day 7: West Iceland
- October 3, 2019
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We woke up early and were out of the Airbnb by 10 am. It was fun to pet the horses but I’m ready to explore West Iceland. It was sunny and less windy but still cold. I was looking forward to catching up on hiking and sight seeing but unfortunately spending hours outside without a proper winter jacket left me feeling a bit under the weather. As much as I enjoyed watching Icelandic horses for hours, I woke up the next morning with mild body ache and a slight fever.
So, Tylenol to the rescue. We left the Airbnb around 10 am and our first stop of the day was Pristapar. It’s the site of the last execution that took place in 1830 in Iceland. Agnes brutally killed her lover Natan and tried to cover it up. Eventually she was sentenced to death. Hannah Kent’s book Burial Rites is based on this history and is being turned into a movie. Jennifer Lawrence is supposed to play Agnes. So, we wanted to stop by this historic site.
Unfortunately, it was just a parking lot. The walking path was closed. We continued on to our next stop for the day, Hvitserkur, aka, Sea Stack. The drive to the sea stack was 26 miles on gravel road. Our car probably would have made it there and back but as I mentioned before, I was feeling under the weather and in no mood for that drive. As much as I wanted to see the sea stack, my body was protesting the drive.
The Tylenol hadn’t kicked in yet and I still felt under the weather. The bumpy drive on gravel road for almost 45 mins there and back was too much for me this morning. We decided to skip sea stack and continue to drive on paved roads. I’m sure it would have been beautiful and worth the drive but my body just couldn’t handle it on that day. Our next stop was Hvammstangi for Icelandic seal center.
Hvammstangi and Jokulsarlon are two best places to watch seals in Iceland. The Icelandic seal center offers information about seals, their importance in local folklore and more. They also offer boat tours to go seal watching. Since we’ve already seen seals at Diamond Beach we didn’t feel like paying $150/person to go on a tour. We didn’t see any seals just off the shore but it’s a very cute little village. It was a perfect place for another picnic lunch. As usual, we had smoked arctic char sandwiches.
There is a grocery store in Hvammstangi so we picked up more smoked arctic char for snacking and picnicking. As we continued our drive on the Ring Road, we saw another glacier called Langjokull. It’s the second longest glacier in Iceland after Vatnajokull. That glacier was very far but we could see it clearly. It was definitely a huge glacier and its landlocked which was a uniquely different view.
After Hvammstangi, we continued driving on route 1 for a bit before turning on route 60. There is a creamery called Erpsstadir on route 60 so we had to stop. We got dandelion and Earl Grey ice cream and both were delicious but I preferred the dandelion ice cream. I think their blueberry ice cream might also be worth trying. Soon after this stop, we turned on route 54 which is mostly gravel. Our 2 wheel car did just fine and Tylenol was working.
The drive is beautiful and we didn’t pass any cars at all on this road. Our next stop was Stykkisholmur, a small village in the northern part of Snaefellsnes peninsula. This cute little town with population of about 1,200 has museums, art galleries, and great restaurants. We had shellfish and crab soup at Sjavarpakkhusid. They had a nice outdoor seating at the harbor. The soup was spicy and on a cold day it really hit the spot.
After that we went to 59 Bistro for fish & chips. After lunch in Stykkisholmur, we started driving towards our next Airbnb in Grundarfjordur. We were staying on a horse-breeding farm. But this farm also had chickens and lamb. There were multiple waterfalls right behind our Airbnb. Since our host is a horse breeder, he owns a lot of land and these waterfalls might be going through his property. He obviously doesn’t own the waterfalls but does own the land around the waterfalls.
He told us we can hike anywhere behind the house even if there are no marked trails. We decided to hike Kvernafoss waterfall that’s behind the house. There was no marked trail but we just walked up the mountain towards the waterfall. The view of Kirkjufell from the top of the mountain is beautiful. Kirkjufell looks like a trapezoid from our Airbnb so it was hard for us to recognize it. The hike took almost 3 hours and by the end we were sufficiently hungry.
We had a 3 course seafood meal at the award winning restaurant, Bjargarsteinn. We had blue ling, steamed mussels, and shellfish soup which was flooded with all kinds of seafood for just $45/person. The restaurant is right on the harbor so the view is just as beautiful. We had picked up licorice based alcohol which tasted like cough medicine so it was kind of funny when our host, Ragnar, said that’s what people in Iceland drink when they have a cold.
We finally got to watch sunset at almost exactly midnight. In the south the sun set a little before midnight and in the north, it set a little after. We crossed the street from our Airbnb and watched the sunset from the beach. Our hosts also had a couple of bad-ass dogs who liked to play fetch with rocks. Actual rocks. Take a look at this video. I’ve never seen dogs play fetch with rocks and I don’t think I’ll ever come across it again.
Overall, there isn’t too much to see or do between Siglufjordur and Snaefellsnes peninsula. My advice is to skip Blonduos area all together. As I mentioned in my last post, spend more time in other parts of Iceland, especially Siglufjordur, Seydisfjordur, or Snaefellsnes area. I’m glad we’re spending a full day in Snaefellsnes before ending our trip.