Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Iceland road trip - day 5

Sunday 18 September 2016

The Lights had made no appearance (grrr), so it was a real bummer, but we woke up to a glorious surprise -- it had stopped raining! Finally! The sun was out! We could see things in the distance! There was no fog or clouds to blur the gorgeous views! (Yes, you can tell I was really excited. I live in a hot and humid tropical island where rain is always a welcome relief, and I really do love the rain, but not every day when I'm on holiday, please!)

Xena, as usual, was up before 6 a.m. and wanted to switch on the lights to read her dinosaur book. (She's big into dinosaurs these days, so we bought her a new dinosaur book just for the holiday.) Viv was too sleepy to let her switch on the lights so I tried to keep her entertained. Then she exchanged a few WhatsApp messages with my sis-in-law, and got an update on Tommy, her cherry tomato plant that she had left behind. 

Xena with her dinosaur book

I never thought I'd be so happy to see a gloriously sunny day!

"Mama, it's stopped raining!" I know, baby, I know. 

I picked out the brightest clothes we'd packed for the holiday, because it was probably the only day where they'd not all be hidden under layers of clothing, winter jackets and raincoats!

We climbed up a small hill to take this photo. One look at Xena's hair will tell you how windy it was, but with the sun out, we didn't feel that cold. 

View from the top of the hill

We had breakfast in the car as usual, then set off towards Egilsstadir, a town on the banks of the Lagarfljót river. Xena was getting slightly bored in the car, so I apprehensively handed her a whole apple. (I usually peel and cut her apples.) To my surprise, she worked on it for about 45 minutes without saying a single word. Yay! 

Off we go!

We saw many many horses, and because it wasn't that cold, we decided to get out of the car and get close to the gorgeous creatures. 

Black beauty!

Our ride was lined with stunning landscapes as usual, but they looked so much brighter and beautiful without all the clouds and fog that had covered everything up. 

Amazing views

I finally managed to drag Viv out of the car for a 'the man and the machine' photo.

It was quite a long drive, but we played crazy games some of which Xena came up with (each person talk about 5 things they like) and sang songs along the way, so it was a lot of fun.

We went through a long tunnel at one point and I had fun playing around with the different modes of the camera.

Through and through

I was fascinated at how pointy this pointy peak was!

Ooohs and aahs from Xena too, at all the scenery

I like how the road looks like it just drops into nowhere. 

We passed this stunning beach along the way. 

Xena got out of the car to say 'hello' to the two sheep behind, but they scurried away as soon as she approached them. 

The Hengifoss waterfall was on the way but it was a very long hike up so we decided against it. We did see many many smaller waterfalls along the way though. 

At one point, we were on an 18-km F-road (I found out that F-roads are narrow, gravel, mountain roads) with steep curves. Honestly speaking, it was quite scary for me to know that we were driving along the edge of a mountain without any fence to stop us from hurtling over, but Viv said he enjoyed driving that stretch a lot. The car, of course, looked a total mess after that, covered with dust. Xena promptly disowned it when she got out and took a look.

A portion of the F-road

What were those white patches in the distant mountains? Turns out, it was ice!

We saw some beautiful fall colours along the way. 

More stunning views

At the carpark of the Snaefellstoffa visitor Centre, which was our base camp for the morning

The visitor centre was huge, and had a small museum inside with information about the topology, flora and fauna of the area. The lady at the desk was very friendly and spoke to us for a while, telling us about the things we could do in the area. Viv asked her how people get to these smaller towns from Reykjavik, and she said that though there was a tiny airport, there was a movement going on urging the government to make East Iceland more connected to encourage people to move and live there. "We need people here," she said. 

Xena couldn't get enough of this stuffed Arctic fox on display!

There was also a huge stuffed reindeer.

There was even a magnifying glass for visitors to take a closer look at the exhibits.

The visitor centre was very kids-friendly. They had sheets of paper and crayons, books and puzzles. 

Xena instantly got busy with the crayons.

She's named the family after the Ninja Turtles. Not that she's ever watched the show, but Viv has told her the names and now we have all been rechristened. I'm Michelangelo (aka Mikey), Viv is Leonardo, and she's the Sensei rat. 

She flipped through some of the books, but they were in Icelandic so she gave up and started solving the puzzle instead. 

The patio of the visitor centre -- wouldn't you just love to sit down here and get a cup of tea?

The area around the visitor centre was beautiful and it was a gorgeous day to be out and about. We decided to explore the place on foot. 

At this point, I started to feel a little cold, so I broke into a run to keep warm. Xena followed me. This photo was taken seconds before she fell down on the gravel and got a bruise. This was fall#1 of the holiday. Not that she fell again, but Viv and I did. You'll see. 

There was this cute little maze in the middle of nowhere!

Finally, she's made it to the centre of the maze and is waiting on the podium for her prize. 

We found stumps of trees carved into these teardrop shapes. 

Next up was the historical site of Skriðuklaustur, with the highlight being a mansion built in 1939 by Gunnar Gunnarsson (1889-1975), one of Iceland’s most famous authors. In 1948, he gave the mansion to the Icelandic state and it is now a centre of culture and history and displays objects connected to the author's life and work. 

The two-storeyed mansion is 315 square metres in area... 

...and is one of the most recognised buildings in Iceland. 

Xena expresses her stern disapproval at the finger-shaped logs lying near the house. She was right, they did look creepy.  

The house was surrounded by beautiful flowers. 

All right, I admit I took this photo just for the colours!

I'd read on Tripadvisor about the Klausturkaffi (a cafe nestled within Skriðuklaustur) and its amazing buffet lunch, so we decided to try it out. 

The spread looked amazing! We were also very surprised at how vegetarian-friendly it was. Except for three dishes (chicken, fish and reindeer meat), everything else was vegetarian. There was rice, mushroom soup, Angelica soup, cheese quiche, grilled vegetables, fruits, baby potatoes, basil pesto, tomato pesto, two types of cakes, gingerbread cookies, and some 20 types of tea. It almost seemed like a page out of an Enid Blyton book. 

I was absolutely thrilled that Xena finally had some rice to eat! She'd not taken well to Icelandic food and was pretty much surviving on bread and fruits. We mixed the mushroom soup with the rice and fed her. It sounds horrible, but it was quite tasty and I have to say she ate the best at this meal in all the days we were in Iceland. 

I wanted to try the reindeer meat, so I cut a tiny piece out for myself. All I can say is... erm, not my taste. I found it tough and chewy, and frankly not worth skipping the other yummy stuff for. 

We finished off our meal with some tea. I had some lemon and lime tea, which was really nice. 

After that heavy and yummy meal, we decided to stretch our legs and walk around the beautiful area. 

There was even a sand pit with digging tools!

Mikey and Sensei walking back to the carpark

And off we went again! These green cylinders are packed haystacks. We saw them in all kinds of colours throughout our trip!

I spotted something white in the distance again. This time, it wasn't even high up on some distant mountain. 

Ice... right by the road... in September!

We drove through the Hallormsstadur forest area, admiring the beautiful fall colours. It is a huge forest with lots of trees full of flowers. The colourful trees were a big contrast after miles and miles of seeing just mountains and grass. 

We then drove on to the tiny town oSeyðisfjörður, situated at the base of a huge mountain. 

There was also a beautiful lake in the town. We wanted to take a walk around it, but the weather was getting a little too cold for Xena (and frankly speaking, me too) so I had to bundle her off towards the car...

...while Viv decided to continue the stroll without us so he could get some photos of the scenic surroundings. 

The famous blue church of Seyðisfjörður

Soon, we were back on our way. We stopped by a petrol station to fill up and buy groceries.

Also, Viv wanted to wash the car and make it look like its pre-F-road self!

Xena was incredibly excited and amused at the fact that Viv was washing the car while we were still inside! 

We wanted to get a pancake mix at the supermarket so Xena could have a more filling breakfast but we had a very tough time picking one out, because the instructions were in Icelandic so I didn't know if I needed to buy anything additional, such as eggs or milk or butter, or adding water would suffice. We decided to wing it, so we just bought a random brand.

Our accommodation for the night was a farm in Mjoanes. Our host had the friendliest dog ever. When we asked him if we could take a walk around the place, he asked if we wanted to take his dog along! Wow. That was some trust. We had not even gotten our things out of the car or checked in, and here he was, just giving us his dog! So we just took him and went off for our walk!

Gulli was the most gorgeous dog and Xena just couldn't make up his mind if she was scared of his size or enamoured by his cuteness. 

With much apprehension (plus a bit of fear), she held Gulli's leash...

...but soon she was right at home!

By the time we returned from our walk, she had fallen in love with Gulli!

Xena with the Mjoanes sign

These flowers at the farm eerily reminded me of Hitler! Xena just called them 'angry flowers' -- perhaps because of the 'raised eyebrows' look!

Dinner was at home. We'd picked up some simple noodles and pasta which we cooked in our host's kitchen and ate. And that was the end of yet another glorious day in Iceland.

Click here for Iceland road trip - day 6 -- the LIGHTS will be making their appearance!



Post a Comment

<< Home