Iceland Day 2: Snæfellsnes
The nice thing about almost no light all day long is we didn’t really feel a jetlag effect. It’s impossible to feel out of sorts with the local time when there doesn’t really seem to be a local time. We went to bed in the dark, slept 10 hours, and woke in the dark. When we stumbled into the parking lot, we found a little dusting of snow and no one around. It could have been 3am or 11pm. But it was really about 9am. I promise I’ll stop talking about the dark soon, but it was just surreal.
As we left, the sun began to sneak toward the mountains. I always think sunrises are prettier than sunsets, but how often are you up to see one?
What’s not pictured in this post is the crazy tunnel we got to go through. As we headed out toward the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, the road suddenly dipped down into Hvalfjörður Tunnel, which is apparently a crazy feat of engineering. It was clear and dry, and really neat because they left the walls sort of rough, which reminds you that you’re burrowed deep into the ground. Maybe it sounds silly, but after the dirty tile covered tunnels in Boston, we were pretty excited.
There are horses everywhere in Iceland. Yen kept asking me what they were for, and I kept explaining: “So tourists can ride around on one while trying to see Northern Lights.” I got a kick out of all the signs saying, “Rental Horses.”
Here I making a friend. Remember what I said yesterday about layers. I’m wearing a lot of shirts in this photo.
They’re so shaggy and funny, these horses. They’ve got enormous noggins, and stand stoically in the snow thanks to their thick coats. They’re tough little creatures.
We drove on, but it wasn’t long before I screamed at Yen to stop. Mini icebergs!
Scale. Call me Scale James.
Here’s our little car. Much bigger than we wanted, but Yen really wanted a standard transmission, and this was what they had. I think in the last post I warned you about the price of food. Now let me give you a warning about the cost of fuel. Because when you go – and you will go, you must – you’re in for a big, big shock with fuel. This is a pretty fuel efficient car, and Yen’s very careful to squeeze each mile out of a tank. But we spent $350 on fuel in just four days of driving. Yen kept reminding me that it’s an island, but damn. What I wonder is what do people do in Iceland for a living that allows them to pay for that? And these people love tricked-out SUVs. I wish we had a photo of the giant Expedition with huge tires that parked next to us one day. What on earth are the industries in Iceland that allow all of this? Tourism only gets you so far. The only big building with a company name we saw was Deloitte. So presumably they’re paying for all of their fuel and dried fish by consulting. I’m just baffled.
Ah. So in the last post I mentioned hexagonal basalt columns, right? They’re a formation created by volcanos somehow – don’t ask me, I’m no geologist. But they’re tall, uniform, and upright. You can’t really see them through the snow – scroll on to the next photo. We learned quickly that whenever there’s a little sign on the highway with a cloverleaf symbol, that means “interesting geological feature this-a-way.” We drove about a mile down a gravel road to see this.
I don’t know if you know this, but my husband loves waterfalls. You probably couldn’t tell from the many, many photos on this blog of me standing in front of one for scale. He LOVES them. Iceland was paradise for him. You’re just driving down the road and you see things like this:
I loved this little swiss-cake-roll of a house. You’ll note that it’s starting to get very, very snowy. We had planned to circle the entire Snæfellsnes peninsula, but now we were starting to get nervous.
These sheep have ocean-front property. And a bold stare.
Sheep are pretty much in charge in Iceland. You need to watch out because one might cross the road in front of you at any moment.
At last we came to a sign saying we shouldn’t go on without snow tires or chains, so we turned around. We were sad, but there was no way we were risking a deductible by going into the ditch. Shortly after we turned around, we saw a poor guy who’d done exactly that. It reinforced our decision nicely.
What was nice about going back the way we’d come is we got to see the “after” view of my icebergs. Now that the tide had come in, they just looked like little patches of ice.
It’s hard to see here, but I was enormously entertained trying to pronounce all of the crazy Icelandic names. One night back at the hotel we watched a gameshow in which they removed the vowels from town names, and contestants had to guess them. Hilarious.
Iceland is pretty much a volcanic landscape. Very few trees of any kind, and when you see the soil (maybe at a construction site where they’ve done some digging), it’s completely black like coffee grounds. Here’s what big volcanic rocks look like when covered in fresh snow.
Man, we were hungry after that drive! We decided to check out the only Vietnamese restaurant in town. We were surprised to learn that there are about 400 Vietnamese living in Reykjavík – a lot considering the whole town has a population of less than 120,000. The menu was surprisingly big.
And we were impressed by the food. Yep, that’s what I call #36. No, I’m not wearing a hat. Yen had pho and declared it “not too bad!”