Iceland Day 12 – Thursday, September 18, 2014
Snæfellsnes Peninsula to Mosfellsbær



We went to breakfast extra early this morning, before 9:00, to avoid any cheese rationing, but we needn't have worried. Yesterday's cheese shortage was an aberration, and today they had stack of it. When you run out of something in Iceland, it can be a loooong way to the store.

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Horses at Gistiheimilið Hof

At 11:00 we checked out of our cute little cabin. It was raining pretty steadily earlier, but it stopped by the time we left. The car was making a weird noise yesterday afternoon, and today the sound was even more pronounced. We pulled over at a little emergency hut on Rt. 54, and Tom looked under the car and found our problem – a piece of the undercarriage just behind the bumper was hanging loose and dragging on the ground. There was no fix to be done here, so we continued on.

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Emergency hut, Rt. 54, north of Öxi

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Inside the hut

We turned east on 57 to take a second stab at the scenic drive between Grundarfjordur and Stykkisholmur. It was gloomy out, but at least it wasn't raining like yesterday afternoon. The sugarloaf mountains in Gjundarfjordur are striking, and as a bonus, I think I found my next car. I wonder what it will cost to ship it from Iceland...

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Kirkjufell mountain in Grundarfjörður

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Grundarfjörður

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My sweet ride

Before reaching Stykkisholmur, we turned off the main road onto 577. A side road off the side road leads toward Bjarnarhofn, home of the Bjarnarhofn Shark Museum. This is a working farm that is Iceland's leading producer of hákarl (fermented shark meat), a traditional Icelandic food. Basically, they let the meat of the otherwise poisonous Greenland shark rot until enough uric acid (urine) leaves the flesh that it won't kill you to eat it – You'll just wish you were dead. This is the dish that made Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern gag and Gordon Ramsey throw up. If you take the tour, a bite of this delicacy is included at no additional cost. No, we did not take the tour. I wasn't even tempted. And you wondered why we relied so heavily on sandwiches, ramen noodles, and PB&Js on our journey.

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This way to the rotten flesh!

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Thanks, but no thanks

The road here was rough and gravely, and hence we learned that the piece of car dragging on the ground is the piece that keeps gravel from being thrown into the undercarriage. Crap! Something must be done! But for some reason, Tom didn't want to lay down under the car right there in the wet gravel, so we limped on down the road.

We continued to Stykkisholmur, the biggest town on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, population 1,100, hoping that we could find a dry, covered area to pull into. We could not find such a place. Instead, in the parking lot of the weirdest looking Icelandic church yet, Tom crawled under the car to try to fix the problem. There was no fixing it, but he decided he could tie it back in place with a piece of wire, which of course we did not have.

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Stykkishólmskirkja

So next we headed over to the port. Surely there would be a piece of wire laying around there. There wasn't, but we found a few strands of string, and Tom manged to rig up a temporary solution. Maybe we shouldn't have gone on that “F” road yesterday after all! Actually, this piece was loose when we picked up the car initially, and Tom pointed it out to the rental agent, but the guy waved us off like it was no big deal, and we stupidly did not insist that he write it down. Too bad, because our insurance specifically excludes damage to the undercarriage. Great.

Anyway, from the port parking lot, we climbed up a hill to a little lighthouse and were rewarded with great views of dozens of the hundreds of cute little islets in the bay and views down into Stykkisholmur and its port. It was raining lightly again, and it was so windy I had to tie on my knit hat to keep it from blowing off my head. It looked like our trip might end the way it began, with rain.

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Stykkishólmur lighthouse

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Port of Stykkishólmur

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Stykkishólmur

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Breiðafjörður (Broad Fjord)

Tom found a free car wash at a gas station in town and gave our filthy rental car a good washing, in an effort to not incur an extra cleaning fee when we turn it in tomorrow, and in hopes that they might think we actually took good care of the thing. While there, we got gas yet again.

Leaving Stykkisholmur, we immediately turned onto a gravel road, and our newly clean car was instantly grimy again. Figures. We crossed the peninsula going south on 55 through some striking jagged mountains and then were back to pavement and quickly off the peninsula.

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Jagged edge

Passing through Borganes again, the town we'd come through by accident two days ago when we missed our turn onto the peninsula, we decided to make one more liquor store run, to prevent any rationing on our last night. And then Tom washed the car again – after all, it had been almost a couple of hours since the last car washing!

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Twice in two hours

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View from the car wash

Next we decided to drive around the Akranes Peninsula. The town of Akranes is located only 10 kilometers from Reykjavik across Hvalfjordur. You can see Reykjavik from here, but not very well today with all the gloom.

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Akraneskirkja

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Art in Akranes

It's 45 minutes to Reykjavik from Akranes via a 5.7-kilometer tunnel (1,000 ISK) or an hour and 45 minutes if you drive the coast of Hvalfjordur. We took the long way and were glad we did, as this was one of our favorite fjords of trip. And I'm happy to report that it finally stopped raining, so we could really enjoy it. Thanks to the tunnel, there was almost no traffic on the road, despite its close proximity to Reykjavik.

Hvalfjordur has some interesting history. During World War II, it was an important port for American and British naval vessels, with over 20,000 soldiers stationed here.

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Heavenly Hvalfjörður

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Hvalfjörður

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Fossárrétt

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Hvalfjörður

At the village of Brautarholt we turned down a side road for one last chance at a view of Reykjavik, but the weather just didn't cooperate. However, we were rewarded with the discovery of a gorgeous little black church in a dramatic setting.

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Brautarholtskirkja

By 7:00 p.m. we reached our accommodations for the last night of our trip, 2CozyApartments in Mosfellsbaer, a northern outer suburb of Reykjavik. This is the second place we stayed that required a cash payment, 12,000 ISK ($100). We rented the smaller of the two apartments, a very cute little studio with a flat-screen TV, kitchenette with free tea and coffee, of course the ever-present free wifi, and a nice private bath. The lovely proprietress, Gundrun, on our last night in Iceland, was the first person to warn us how hot the tap water is here.

Gundrun gave us a discount card for a cafe down the road, but we stayed in to finish the last of our food supplies. No, we didn't have Ramen again – We had run out. Rather, we dined on cheese sandwiches and the random last bits of our groceries.

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2CozyApartments (one of them) in Mosfellsbær

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Lounging on our last night



Continue to September 19, 2014

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