Windy West Iceland

After breakfast we packed up and headed to the coast in Northwest Iceland to see the 15 meter high sea dragon off the Vatnsnes peninsula just as the sun rose.

The legend goes that Hvítserkur is a petrified troll. The troll lived in the Westfjords and wanted to tear down the bells of the Þingeyraklaustur convent. The Icelandic trolls are not Christian and don’t like the sound or sight of churches or church-bells. Fortunately, the troll got caught by daylight and as we all know trolls turn into stone by daylight.

The first thing we noticed when we got out of the car was the gale force winds. The rain during the drive had mostly ended and fortunately the temps were mild, in the low 40’s. A short flat path led to a grassy bluff overlooking the sea – and the monster. The tide was out, making it possible to go down to the beach for a closer look. Thank goodness for the warmer temps that there was no ice on the steep trail down. The wind gusts were scary enough. The light wasn’t the best for photographs but we braved the weather to try. The wind nearly blew Matt’s tripod bag off of his back.

There’s not a lot to see this time of year with the limited daylight in this area of the country. Rain came and went as we drove southwest toward Reykholt where we’ll stay tonight. Lots of rolling hills and horse farms are in this area. We did see beautiful Icelandic horses grazing near the road. The Icelandic horse is a unique breed. Literally! Bred in isolation for the past 1000 years, it’s manners and gaits are different from all others. So beautiful!

Not too far down the road, we saw a sign for the KIDKA Wool Factory store and stopped to check it out. It’s just a mile or so off Ring Road in Hvammstangi. The factory has been around for about 50 years and they make a lot of the wool sweaters and other products seen in stores throughout the country. As has been the case recently, we were the only visitors there. A sign on the wall said to feel free to go into the factory and look around, so we did. First we passed the seamstresses sewing sleeeves onto sweaters and the then into a larger room with several long knitting machines. Huge spools of different colored wool yarns were on top, each engaged according to the pattern the loom was programmed to produce. Wide swaths of finished wool fabric pooled out in front of the loom as the machine quickly knitted the yarn. A thick layer of wool fiber dust covered every surface and the hundreds of needles (?) on the loom. I can only imagine how tedious it must be to clean these things. I was amazed that we were allowed to just walk around the working factory without any supervision or oversight at all. I guess we looked trustworthy. We browsed fabric scraps and samples for sale and considered getting some but thought better of it considering how packed our suitcases already are. It was really interesting!

Along the way we stopped at Deildartunguhver, the largest hot spring in Europe and met the furriest dog I’ve ever seen. He recognized Riley as a dog person right away.

We briefly considered soaking in the hot tubs at the new Krauma bathing center but the winds were so strong we would’ve had to stay submerged up to our ears. When we got back in the car I saw a Reykjavik Grapevine post to expect wind gusts up to 35-40 m/s and sustained winds of 15-25 m/s. The winds are so high today in North Iceland, where we’d been the last 2 days, that travel in the area is highly inadvisable. The gusts are supposed to be 40-50 m/s. I’m glad we missed that.

The weather and driving had us all tired. We checked in to the B59 Hotel in Krauma and relaxed for a couple hours before dinner. Chandler read a book, I took a nap, Riley watched an NFL football game that was commentated in Icelandic but the cutaways to the coaches and network commentators was in English. Matt checked out the gym and spa.

We had dinner at the restaurant in the Icelandic Settlement Center where there are exhibits and intersting features. The building is built into a cliff so that the back wall of the dining room and downstairs gift shop are a rock wall. Water tricked down the wall and occasionally splashed on Matt who was sitting close to it. The food was excellent but It is always disconcerting to see Grillsteikt hrossafillet dagsins, grilled fillet of horse, on the menu. We chose grilled chicken salad, fish of the day and the beef burger instead. The waiter was impressed with Chandler’s correct pronunciation of Eyjafjallajökull when ordering the lava cake from the menu. I’m amazed at Chandler’s ability to pick up new languages.

We browsed the gift shop, bought a couple souvenirs and went back to the hotel to relax. Matt had been trying to sample the local Icelandic IPA beer but had no luck finding it until tonight. We played Farkle for awhile and called it a night, giving up on ever beating Matt. He’s on a roll!

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