Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Day 7 - Volcanoes, Trolls, Birds, Caves, and a Big Tunnel!

From the coastline south of Reykjavik we have seen the huge snow-capped volcano far to the northwest, so today we planned a big driving day heading north and west to Snaefellsjokull National Park.  We got an early start and headed north along the coast.  Our first surprise was the Hvalfjörður Tunnel under the fjord. It is almost four miles long and and reaches a depth of 541 ft below sea level. Driving down into the tunnel was a really cool experience.

The landscape turned into pastoral plains bordered by mountains and ocean.  We passed hay, sheep and horse farms by the dozens.  It was a beautiful sunny day and the colors were mystifying.

This basalt column plateau was unusual and we stopped for a few zoomed in photos.  Open this photo up and take a look at them...reminiscent of Devil's Tower in Wyoming.

Along the way the lupines became less prevalent and a new flower started to show up.  From a distance it looked like it might be a white orchid.  At a mountain pass we got out of the car for a closer look.
 Not a flower but a very fluffy seed pod.

 We stopped in a small fishing village to take a closer look at some very large boats that were moored at the pier and then enjoyed a fresh cuppa and some Icelandic pastry at a small bistro.  The owner was lovely and treated us as if we were her most important customers of the day.  Her "Happy Marriage Cake" was the best so far.

A bit further up the road we spotted a gravel road and said "why not."  It was a bumpy 30 minutes covering maybe three miles ending at an impressive little lighthouse and an amazing view of the bird colony on the cliffs below.  The locals use to gather eggs and birds in June and August as a major food source.  Now it is a protected wildlife sanctuary.  The cliffs were magnificent.

A photo from the display showing harvesters around 1900.

Near the lighthouse we discovered the ruins of a fishing village dating back to the 1600's.  Only a few stone foundations were left, but the surprise was this awesome hand dug fresh water well.

Next up was a hike to the top of a small crater.  The stairs were the finest we've ever seen in a national park and the views of Snaefellsjokull volcanno were grand.

We found this guy in the parking lot. Someone has a warped sense of humor.  I don't like clowns.
The lave cave was next but before we descended it was time for a short nap on the ice plant.  Not the "fun bags."  We left our pink one back in Washington.  No room in the bags.

The Vatnshellir Lave Cave was very cool.  We've been in lava tubes before.  What made this one special were the two very high spiral staircases to get in and out and the guide.

We continued our coastal drive and found this giant troll at a resort.
 If you could buy a "hotel in a box" at IKEA, it might look like this.
The waterfalls along the was were lovely.
Back at our Iceland home we enjoyed what we thought was a grilled steak dinner.  It turned out to be pork chops instead of T-Bones.  Note to self:  Take dictionary to grocery store.  Packaged meat here looks a bit different.  Tastes the

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