Friday, July 15, 2011

Iceland Chronicles - Part III (Vatnsnes Peninsula)

Throughout the night the wind was howling and rocked the RV. Yael claimed that she felt like a baby rocked to sleep and had the best sleep so far. Outside was a clear day with very strong wind. (We later found out that wind from the arctic was blowing through all of Iceland during these days.)

After breakfast we set on the road. Today we had to cross back to the main ring road, which was about 150 of driving. Once we went past Stykkishólmur the road turned into a gravel road. For the next two hours we drove through hills raising a large dust cloud behind us.

The impressive thing about Iceland so far, is the common nature of the view along the roads. For most of the time, the roads run next to fenced fields that either serve as grazing ground for sheep, horses, or less often cows, or are freshly harvested grass/grain fields. These are dotted with big bundles of hay wrapped with white plastic. We call them the "mozzarella" fields as these bundles remind us of mozzarella balls.
The number of horses we see is huge. Makes us wonder what they do with all the horses. The guide book say they are used for tourism and for herding the sheep in the autumn. But, the numbers seem to large for that (we keep seeing huge herds).

It seems that all the land that is even remotely potentially reachable by vehicle is partitions among farms. Along the roads there are small ways that lead to each farm. These are marked with the name of the farm, and the detailed maps lists all the farms.

After a while the road improved, and drove a while on, until we reached a gas station on the intersection of the ring road and the road to the west fjords. We had McIceland burgers, and then continued on the ring road north.

We decided to go watch seals and seabirds in a small peninsula of Vatnsnes. The road was gravel again, and run along the coast (again, divided to fields). At one point there was a sign "Seals", and we walked a short stretch down to the beach. To me this beach raised memories of beaches in Monterey and Carmel. It had the same general atmosphere. There were rock outcrops across from the shore where some seals where strewn.

We continued driving, the peninsula seemed larger than what we expected. After a while there was another sign of point of interest. From a parking on top of a cliff overlooking the shore, we walked to an observation deck where we can see an odd-shaped rock in the ocean. It was ~15 meter high, about 20 meter wide, but very thin. Like a piece of wall that was left of an old building. We wend down on a trail that lead to the beach, and walked along it.

We passed colonies of arctic tern - small birds that fiercely defend their nests. A couple that was walking ahead of us came to close and had to make a retreat with a large number of birds buzzing around them.

Down the beach we reached a place where across from us there was a sand bank, with several large seals sleeping. Some of the actually showed signs of life and moved about a bit once in a while, but in general they seemed very lazy. We thought they come here to raise their young, but we only saw adult seals.

After climbing back up the cliff, we continued to a small town of Daeli off route 1 where we found a camp site. Throughout the day the cold northern wind was blowing and toward evening it became bitter cold. We all felt the cold during the night.

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