Iceland Diary #1: Snæfellsnes PeninsulaPosted: August 17, 2016
Even though it wasn’t the first stop of my Euro trip, I decided to start my travel diary with Iceland, because I figure that’s what everybody wants to see the most, and I want to write it down while it’s still fresh in my mind.
A bit of backstory first: like I said, this trip was the result of much planning between myself and my friend Debbi. After I decided to stay with my friends in the Netherlands before going to Iceland, we invited them along as well, and thus the idea of a road trip was born. We spent months looking through all the sample itineraries, and finally settled on south-west Iceland for a week, instead of the whole island – we didn’t have the time or the money, or frankly the willpower, for that kind of trip. Most of the sights are concentrated around the lower half of the island anyway, so we figured we wouldn’t miss out on a lot. (Pro tip: we based most of our itinerary on the sample itineraries on Hostelling International Iceland, and we also booked our car rental + hostel package through them. It came out to about $750/person, which is not cheap, but it’s cheaper than most self-drive tours out there, considering we were there during the high season.)
So, on the first day, we met up in Reykjavik and went to the grocery store to stock up for the trip. Eating out in Iceland is notoriously expensive, and most days we were going to be in the middle of nowhere anyway, so cooking was the best and cheapest option. The thing is, we were staying at a new hostel every night, so we could only take food that can be easily transported and kept. I still can’t look at a boiled egg or hot dog without thinking of Iceland.
Then, on the next day, we set out for our first destination: the western peninsula of Snæfellsnes!
It was our first day on the road, so we didn’t know what to expect. After we got out of Reykjavik and headed into the wilderness, I think our minds all got broken a little bit at the vastness and emptiness of the landscape. Every few minutes, at every turn, there was something that made us want to stop and get out of the car, to snap pictures or just to simply take in the view with our mouths hanging open.
Soon after we started, we got to meet the famous Icelandic horses – it was a good thing we decided to stop then and there, because for the rest of the trip, although we saw a lot of horses, they were never this close to the road.
We also stopped at a museum displaying the carcass of a whale – you have to admire the very prosaic sign. Yes, that is indeed a dead whale:
The journey should be just a little over two hours, but because we were stopping so much, it took us nearly five hours to get to Snæfellsjökull, the glacier which, according to Jules Verne, holds the entrance to the center of the Earth.
We drove around the glacier for a bit, then stopped at our hostel in Grundarfjörður, a nearby small town. After dinner, we took a walk to a lovely waterfall we saw on the drive there (which turns out to be Kirkjufellfoss, so named because it’s right next to Kirkjufell, or Church Mountain). Finally around midnight, we crawled into bed and got treated to an epic sunset from our hostel window. All in all, a very good first day.