Saturday, July 16, 2011

Iceland Chronicles - Part IV (Glaumbaer and Skagafjorder)

Today we continued Going Eastwards along the north coast of Iceland. 

We drove for a while along the ring road, passing the town Blonduos, where we did some shopping and marveled about the ugliness of their church (built to resemble a volcano).

The ring road passed through green valleys and circumvent a peninsula. When coming down toward the sea level we stopped at a memorial to an Icelandic poet (who lived most of his life in Canada) and watch the view.

Soon after, we departed from the ring road and drove north to a place called Glaumbaer. It is an old farmhouse that was turned into a museum. It shows houses from several centuries ago. They are built of wooden frame that hold grass and peat that form an organic wall. The place looked and felt like one would imagine a hobbit house, although it lacked round windows, and I expect that the hobbit have better floors.

The house contains quite a few artifacts from day to day live of people from that time. Simple things like beds, cabinets, work tools, ice-skates, and such.

After the museum we crossed the end of the Skagafjorder (a fjord), and went up its east coast. We stopped at the town of Hofsos for lunch (fish and chips for the adults, and hamburgers for the kids).

This town is the home of the "Emigration Center" where people from Icelandic origin can find out the genealogy of their family. We decided to skip this part, and continued driving along the impressive coastline. At the north end of the peninsula, after a short tunnel, we reached the town of Siglufjorder. This is one of the northern most towns in the area, and during the early 20th century was the Herring Capital of Iceland.

Upon arriving we found that the Herring Museum just closed. And so we missed the main attraction in town. The campsite was quite full, it seems that many Icelanders go camping on the weekend, and here there were several groups that looked like large family reunions.

We decided to push on to the next campsite. This meant driving through a fairly new pair of tunnels (each about 7km long) to the town of Olafsfjorder. Here the campsite was also full, and so we continued on to the next town over, another 8km tunnel, this one with one lane, and turn off bays every ~50m, so that cars going in the opposite direction have to stop to let us pass (we were going in the direction with right of way). Going over breathtaking cliffs, we reached the town of Davlik. Here there was a large mostly empty campsite. But, the shower was broken, and moreover, once we got outside a strong smell of fish hit us. We debated whether to stay and get used to the smell, or seek another location.

At the end, we decided to go back to Siglufjorder, driving three tunnels, where in one of them we have to move aside whenever there was a car in the opposite direction (kind of nerve wrecking to estimate when is the right time to pull aside). In the end we returned to the place we started and parked there. It was actually a nice camp ground, and we found a spot off to the side that was not too crowded. We saw extended families that camped together and did all kind of social games that we didn't know.

Somewhere during the afternoon the harsh wind stopped and we had a quiet and comfortable night.

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