Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Vatnsnes peninsula

Vatnsnes is a small peninsula a few hours away from Reykjavík, on the way to Akureyri. It only takes an hour or so to drive around it, yet I can't seem to find many people who've been there, even Icelanders! Rather weird.

The peninsula has a few attractions. The first one is Borgarvirki, an old abandoned citadel. It's very small and located on top of a hill. There aren't many records of it in the sagas apparently... Yet it's there. The rock has been dug out in the center to give it that cozy citadelly feel. 

Another attraction is the very weird looking Hvítserkur rock, which looks like some sort of mythical creature formed by the constant wind and water erosion. It's about 15 meters tall. Finally, there are seals on the West side of the peninsula, though they're not right by the coast so you need good binoculars.

A rather weird mountain along route 1. Kinda looks like a sleeping person with a very sharp nose.


The rocks look pretty cool... Kinda Kjarvalesque

The fortress has a nice view of the mountains

And it also has a good view of the areas beneath it

Jó inside the fortress. It was very windy up there.

The mighty Hvítserkur. Possible the coolest looking rock in Iceland.

Shells by the shore

This is at a farm that's trying to get some seal-viewing business. It's a 10 minute walk from that point to get to the seals.

Jó imitating the baby seal :)

So those whitish spots over there are the seals. Yeah, we could've used some binoculars.

Caution: flying seals!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Snæfellsnes and Hótel Búðir

For our two-year wedding anniversary, we took a trip to the Snæfellsnes peninsula. This is where the Snæfellsjökull glacier is located, on perhaps Iceland's most famous mountain.

We had already been to that peninsula twice (and I blogged it once), but it's such a beautiful area that we just had to go there again :). We also stayed for one night in Hótel Búðir, and had great food at their restaurant.

Along the way, we stopped on a 'secret' natural hot pot (it's not marked and difficult to get to if you haven't been show the way by somebody else). It's basically a hole fed by hot water to a perfect hot temperature, and we've never seen anybody else there. It does belong to somebody, but we just use it when we're going North :).

We also peeked inside a very narrow ravine named Rauðfeldsgjá, and followed the stream that flows through it until it got too risky :).

Finally we wandered around the very cool formations next to Arnarstapi. Lava had cooled pretty quickly from the water, and took the form of lovely basaltic columns. 

A snow-topped mountain along the way

The way to the secret hot pot... Slightly tricky

The hot pot and its surroundings

Clothes on the side

A cool looking mountain

The view from Búðir

The ravine Rauðfeldsgjá


Inside the ravine

The mighty Snæfellsjökull

Looks like chocolate cake with powdered sugar to me

Rhyolite mountains

Bent basaltic columns

Jó in her seal/dog hat

I managed to climb into that hole

And on the way back from it. It was tricky since the seaweed is slippery, and the water is several feet deep in spots.

A nice frame

Tiny snails in the rock

Kirkjufell, Grundafjörður's distinctive mountain