Published: March 10th 2011October 17th 2009
On the coast
I think the roar was more spectacular than the sight
Why would I go to Iceland in October? Among other things, it was free. The airline I flew on this trip was Icelandair. Their hub is (no surprise) Reykjavik, Iceland. A cool promotion that they had was that anyone could stay over in Iceland for up to four days for no additional charge. ‘Who knows when I will get a chance to go to Iceland’ I thought and…so I did for three nights.
As is now my habit, I looked for couchsurfers to stay with. I found one that I could stay with and they even rented cars for slightly less than the rental companies. That sounded about right to me. Sadly, this was not the ideal couchsurfing experience. The daughter of my host picked me up and took me to their home. I stayed in this very beautiful daughter’s bedroom but there was no interaction with the family. I had offered to buy dinner but after a couple of hours of my host watching TV on the internet in his robe, it was apparent that they weren’t really interested in visiting. So I wandered down the street and found a nice Thai restaurant then went back and surfed the
internet for a place to stay for the next couple of nights.
The next morning my host rented me an eight year old Ford Taurus with the radio falling out and I was off to the west coast. On the way there I happened go to the town of Borgarnes. It was about 11:00am on Saturday. It was cold, very windy and raining. But I could not get through the town. The roads were blocked and crowded with people of all sorts, all bundled up and sitting alongside the road. ‘A parade!’ I thought and tried to find a place to park my big ol’ Taurus. Just as I got parked about 25 or 30 sheep ran down the road being chased by five or six guys on horseback. ‘Now that is an odd way to start a parade’ I thought. But then the weirdest thing happened. All these hundreds of people got up and began to leave. That was it! A bunch of sheep being chased by men on horses and that was all! After a couple of weeks of surprises every day this didn’t strike me as particularly strange but looking back, that was weird!
couple of hours more and I found the hotel I had made a reservation for in a wee fishing village called Stykkisholmur. This hotel was cute, modern and nice. It was built right on a dock where there had previously been a fish storage building. The owner informed me that the hotel restaurant was closed for the season and that there were no other restaurants in town (it was a long way to the next town) but that I was in luck. She was catering a volleyball team banquet that night and for only about $35 I could sit in the restaurant and with the team and eat. I’d say the meal may not have been worth the price but the experience of being the only guy in a room full of tall, skinny, mostly blonde, young ladies all drinking and giggling made the experience a bargain.
The next day I was off to explore. On the way out the owner caught me and said that she would be going to away that night to watch a play and that she would be closing up the hotel. Then she gave me a key to the front door and told
The end of the parade
I wasn't quick enough to get the sheep at the beginning of this 30 second parade
me to let myself in when I got back from my jaunt.
I don’t think that I could say enough about how big this area is or how few people are there. I could drive for miles and miles on the main highway and hardly ever even see an oncoming car. At one point I wanted to look at my map and I just stopped in the middle of the road. I stopped for about five minutes and not a single car passed me going either way and it was so sparse that that wasn’t even surprising to me.
Every few miles there was a parking lot with a few trails or at least a view point. I went to one area where there had been a shipwreck over sixty years ago. There were still many pieces of the ship on the beach. Some were big and half buried in the sand. Others were smaller and some were small enough to put in your pocket. Not only did I enjoy the park and the story of the wreck and rescue but I loved that even after so many years that there were so many pieces of the ship
I think there were more waterfalls than people in this part of Iceland
It is hard to describe how big these are. Compare it to the house in the lower right corner.
on the beach that hadn’t been carted off by souvenir seekers. I love that.
After a few hours of driving and hiking in the cold, I was looking forward to relaxing on my last night before going home. And I gotta admit having an entire hotel to myself was kind of an intriguing prospect. After some more spectacular scenery including hundreds of waterfalls, it was back to Stykkisholmur where I let myself in the front door of the hotel with my very own key.
It was bizarre being in the hotel by myself. I wandered around in the kitchen and behind the bar for awhile and then decided to warm up in the hot tub on the back deck, overlooking the bay. I didn’t have a bathing suit but hey, when you are the only one in the hotel, underwear does the job just fine. Close your eyes and picture this. I’m slunk down in the hot tub with steam rising in the cold afternoon, reading a good book with a libation nearby. It would be difficult to get any better than this.
Imagine my surprise when I looked up from my book to see three people
A typical road in Iceland
with the typical amount of traffic
staring at me through the steam. A family from Germany wanted to check in to the hotel and, with the front door locked, they had wandered around to the back. They wanted to check into the hotel.
Hmm, what to do. There really wasn’t much choice. Fat Kenny got out of the hot tub, complete with dripping underwear and led them into the lobby. I had left my fake foot up in my room so I limped up the stairs to get dressed and then came back down to help them make a phone call. I am not sure who was more embarrassed, this family or me but I know I was mortified. After a neighbor came and checked them in, I went to my room and hid there all night. I saw them at breakfast where we sat at opposite ends of the room and we were all happy to just nod at each other at a distance.