Iceland Megatrip 2005 – Day 13

Today was a big driving day, Matthew and I did about 520km as we were meeting up with Karl and some of his friends to spend the next day white-water rafting.


Once we left Korpudalur in the morning we drove through the West Fjords Tunnel (1 on the map) and stopped in at �safjörður to pick up some groceries and post some postcards.

Driving to �safjörður in the Vestfirðir tunnel

Then we hit the road! We drove past the wrecking yard at Ögur and washed our away hopes of having a look round as the signs made a good job of saying we don’t want visitors.

Then we drove round, over and across the fjord’s as we made our way to our first destination – the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft in Hólmavík (2 on map). This was a pretty cool place to check out, lots of history and exhibits of the not so normal.

Fish Drying Whale Bone Table Necropants / Nábrók

And we drove some more and more, as we reached the start of the North coast it was so interesting to see all the logs on the shore that come up on the beach as drift wood from the logging operations in Siberia, it can take 4/5 years between when the wood “swims” down the rivers of Siberia and when it beaches itself on the Icelandic north coast. Pretty Cool. The even cooler thing was spotting an Iceberg on the horizon. That was so rocking! It was just this big hunk of ice floating in the sea!!!

drift logs

Back on the road; Matthew, Pabbi and I pulled into the hamlet of Borðeyri (4 on map) which is across the fjord from Tannstaðabakki, which is where Pabbi’s mother worked for a little while when Pabbi was a little tyke.

As we drove back up the eastern side of the fjord, Pabbi pointed out the machine gun placement up the hill from Tannstaðabakki where his father was stationed during part of WWII. After we drove some more, we reached the Youth Hostel at Ósar on the Vatnsnes Peninsula which is where Mum, Pabbi and Margaret would be staying for the night. We spent some time chilling out, talking to some of the other guests and chowing down on the whale steaks that Pabbi had cooked for dinner. yum.

As the night drew on, Matthew and I packed up our gear and reorganised the cars so that all our stuff was in the Micra and headed down the 811 to where it joins the 1 to wait for Karl and his friends to arrive so we could follow them to Bakkaflöt which is where we would spend the night before heading up the valley to raft in the morning.

Hay, Hay, Hay Looking east

Iceland Megatrip 2005 – Day 13

July 7, 2005.
The first item on the agenda this morning was to ring Karl and wish him a happy 26th Birthday.


Today Margaret and Mum attempted to walk over Kaldbakur which at 998m is the highest mountain in the West Fjords. Matthew, Pabbi and I left Auðkúla at a leisurely pace and headed into to �safjörður for a poke round whilst the other two did their walk.

These two photos are of the entrance sign to Auðkúla and a look back towards Auðkúla and it’s fjord as we drove up over the mountains (number 1 and 2 on the map).

Auðkúla Looking back

Pabbi showed us sights and memories of �safjörður and after a visit to the grocery store for some lunch supplies we made the drive back to Þingeyri to have lunch. I forgot to mark it on the map where we had lunch but if you look at the map we had lunch at the end of the fjord that Þingeyri is on. We left the road where it crosses the new bridge and drove down the road that my parents used to have to drive on to go to �safjörður. After eating lunch in the car at the end of the fjord as it had started to drizzle we headed up to the spot where we would be picking Mum and Margaret up from their walk, on the way though we pulled into have a look at some fish drying huts (number 4 on the map).

Drying Huts

Once Mum and Margaret had arrived we headed into Þingeyri proper and started to drive and walk around. It was really quite sad to see Þingeyri as it is very run down compared to the photos of when my parents lived there in the late 70’s. There were buildings boarded up everywhere, rust was growing over the town and as a whole the village was a quiet place. The village had a population of around 450 when my parents lived there but like many other fishing villages of the West Fjords had largely declined and is now around 360.

Welcome to Thingeyri poppies Matthew, Pabbi and Mum on the main street in Thingeyri Palsson x4 in Thingeyri 2005_07_07-14_47_39--img_2430 Going to the chapel Australia House
We passed the building where Mum used to live, we visited the church where my parents were married, we went past the places where my parents used to work, we stopped by the house across the road from where my parents used to live to see if anyone was home. No-one was though, which was a bummer because the daughter of the family who live there was who I was named after. Well not Helen but my middle name Þura. The last stop was of course to stop by the house where my parents used to live.

The old house in Thingeyri

As we visited places and ran into people, it was quite funny to watch the exchanges that would occur as Pabbi would recognise people who were children when he last saw them and adults now and they would take a little while before it would click as to who he was.

After we had spent our afternoon exploring and talking we left Þingeyri and drove to the youth hostel where we would be staying the night (Korpudalur, number 6 on the map).

It was quite serendipitous to visit Þingeyri on the day which Karl was born 26 years before and on that note I leave you with this image of the town which I took from a hill just above the town.

Þingeyri and Dýrafjörður in Black and White

Iceland Megatrip 2005 – Day 12

July 6, 2005 more exploring of the West Fjords.

Below is the map of the day with our 7 stops.

1. Mum, Margaret and Pabbi had gone back out to the bird cliffs in the morning to have a second look but there was no where near as many as we had seen the night before.

Once we had reached the turn off down to Breiðavík, we stopped the car and I took the photo below.

2. As we drove over the pass and into the Bíldudalur valley, we were greeted by two sights, one pleasant and one just gorgeous. The first was this decaying hut on the western side of the valley. The second was looking towards the north east to the slopes of the mountains coming down to greet the sea. This was a sight I would not tire of.

old house near Bíldudalur

We drove into Bíldudalur and had a poke round and Pabbi told how it had changed in the 26yrs odd years since he had last been there.

3. Road Signs
Not really much to this but it was the first sign we saw that said how many km’s to Þingeyri and I thought that was pretty cool
Þingeyri turnoff

4. Emergency Shelter on Dynjandsheidi.
The West Fjords are a pretty a rugged area of Iceland and are one of the least populated areas with about 8000 people living there out of a total population of round 297,000. Due to the nature of the region we passed many emergency shelters in the West Fjords which can provide a safe haven for travellers in winter.

This shelter was one of the ones that my father helped to build back in the day when he was living in the area.


5. Dynjandi or Fjallfoss
Such a beautiful and dramatic waterfall! The falls drop about 100m in a series of falls all of which have their own name.

Dynjandi Helen at Dynjandi Dynjandi

6. Hrafnseyri.
Here we visited the Jón Sigurðsson Museum and a traditional Icelandic life Museum. Jón Sigurðsson was at the forefront of the fight for Icelandic Independeance and now the Icelandic National Day is celebrated on his birthday – June 17.
Classic Iceland Looking SW from Hrafnseyri

7. Auðkúla.
My family relations on my father’s side are a bit confusing but in short Auðkúla is the family farm of my dad’s ex-wife and when we started to plan our trip and where we would go, Pabbi was quickly on the phone to his ex-brother-in-law to see if we could spend the night, which was perfectly fine of course. However, somewhere along the way they got the dates mixed up and he was away when we arrived and was not coming home until the next day, we were lucky however that his daughter Dáðina (?) was home and was able to play hostess.

Auðkúla was a very beautiful place with the outlooks to the fjord from one side of the house and mountain views from the other side 🙂 We were given a tour of the farm from the chickens to the sheep and most importantly the Eider Ducks. As a matter of fact we actually own an Eider Down Sæng (doona) that is filled with down collected at Auðkúla

Looking east from Auðkúla The old co-op building at Auðkúla An old boat at Auðkúla Eider Duckling at Auðkúla Arctic Cottongrass (Eriophorum scheuchzeri) Arctic Cottongrass (Eriophorum scheuchzeri) The Old Co-Op boat at Auðkúla Matthew or Pabbi?

Iceland Megatrip 2005 – Day 11

July 5, 2005. The Day of the Puffins!

Today was a big day of driving with short stops on the side of the road to have a little poke around or fill up the petrol tanks. Whilst we only covered about 320km (which if we were doing on mainland Aus, would be 3.5hrs tops – long relativley straight roads at 100/110km/hr) for the day, because this wasn’t just Iceland roads but West Fjords roads; lots of hairpin bends, steep roads, gravel and slow speeds. It is


We bid farewell to Borgarnes, Hjördís and her ultra cool house at 9am.

Happy House Blue door

We hopped on the Ring Road and started heading “north” for a little while before we reached the turnoff to head to the West Fjords. We drove past Baula and enjoyed noticing the change in the country side as we changed lava periods and altidude.

Once we entered the West Fjords we basically kissed bitumen roads good bye and were on dirt for most of it – as the roads approached villages we would get bitumen but that was about it. To drive safely on these dirt roads means that you stop driving on the right and follow the wear patterns of where everyone else has driven as everything else is pretty loose gravel and that is not fun!

The maps show that in some cases the road follows the fjord round and in other times goes up over the fjord, that sounds all fine and dandy. However of course to gain the alitdute to go over the top of the fjord you have lots of hairpin bends and steep roads on gravel. It was all fun!!!

Just before the turn off out to Látrabjarg we reached Kleifaheiði which at about 520m presented Matthew and I with our first accessabile snow of the trip, so of course we jumped out of the car and ran over to have a scramble and a play. That was so cool!

After some more pottering around we reached our destination – Breiðavík, which is 12km from the Látrabjarg Cliffs and where we would be staying for the night. After settling in and having dinner we piled in the car and drove out to the cliffs. These cliffs are the most westerly point of Iceland and thus also the most western point of Europe.

The cliffs were quite possibliy one of my favourite places that we visited, there were birds everywhere and “Hello!, Check out the Puffins!”

Puffin I Puffin II Mowing the Lawn Kissing Puffins at Látrabjarg

These were all taken around the 85mm mark and as you can see from the next two photos just how close we were getting.

Mum and Puffins Crikey!

The puffins didn’t really do it for Matthew so he went back to the car to escape the weather (it was windy, cold and the clouds were kissing the grass) I was able to steal his gloves which if you look at in the above photo are Misfits skeleton gloves :).

The next two photos show a section of the cliffs which are 440m’ish above the Atlantic and one of the gulls I saw out there. THe puffins are birds that hang out at the top of the cliff near the grass whilst the other birds roost on the cliff face.

Látrabjarg Gull

After we had taken enough photos we made the slow drive back to the hostel, for most of the drive back visibility was only a couple of meters in front of us due to the low hanging clouds. I had seen this sign for Keflavík on our way to the cliffs and decided on our way back I would have to get out and take a photo of a sign that points to a Keflavík that would not be the Keflavík that most people think of when they think of Keflavík as they would think of the town south of Reykjavík where the international airport and US Navy base is not a tiny hamlet on the West Fjords 🙂

not that Keflavik

Iceland Megatrip 2005 – Day 10

July 4, 2005, revisiting the sights of Borgarfjörður.

We spent today showing Aunty Margaret some of the sights of Borgarfjörður which we had seen on Day 6 and also some new ones.

First up was to Glanni, which is on the Norðurá River near Bifröst, a waterfall that Pabbi had often visited whilst he was at school there.

Glanni Salmon Ladder at Glanni

One of the cool things about Glanni was the Salmon Ladder which has been built to help the Salmon travel up-stream. I would have liked to be there at the right time to see Salmon “climbing” the ladder.

Just a short drive up the road from Glanni and Bifröst is the farm where Pabbi’s mother and step-father used to live called Hraunsnef. It is now a hotel/hostel/camping ground affair and the owners were more than happy to talk to Pabbi about what they had done, what it was like when he was a kid and to let Pabbi take us on a walk round the place showing us places and telling us stories.

Soley at Hraunsnef Hello Hraunsnef

On the way back from Hraunsef, we stopped just before Bifröst at Grábrók and Grábrókarfell two cinder cones, where Margaret and Mum had a walk round whilst Pabbi, Matthew and I bummed round the car-park. On the way home from the ættarmót the day before Matthew and Karl had done a little run up the cinder cone so Matthew didn’t want to do it again and it was not something that really interested Pabbi or I.

In the afternoon we headed back to Hraunfossa and Reykholt. Whilst we were at Hraunfossa we were greeted with much nicer weather than what we had 4 days earlier. Hraunfossa is a an amazing place, it is made up of a vast number of cascades coming out of the lava over a 900m stretch before falling into the river below. The water collects in the lava and flows through it into the glacial river Hvítá below, which means that you see the white water from the glacier mixing with the blue of the rainwater. Very pretty.

After stopping in at Reykholt on the way back we made our way back to Borgarnes to spend our last night with Hjördís and making preparations for the next leg of our trip which would lead us through the West Fjörds which is where Mum met Pabbi and where Karl was born.

These are some currants that were growing in Hjördís’s garden, they were a little while off been ripe though 🙁 They looked so good!

Iceland Megatrip 2005 – Day 7-9

July 1-3, 2005 ættarmót (Clan Gathering) of the decendants of Jóns Einarssonar and Jóhönnu Þórdísar Jónsdóttir at Reykjaskóla, Hrútafjörði.

The map for July 1-3/2005

Jón and Jóhanna were my great, grand parents and are long since dead. Tannstaðabakki is a farm just up the road from Reykjaskóla which has been in our family for at least the last three hundred years.

It is where Pabbi lived on and off for the first 14 years of his life and it is where Amma and my grandfather, a USA Army Corporal courted.

After arriving at Reykjaskóla we were shown our rooms in the “Pall Palsson Wing” which is where those descendants of my father who were not camping stayed. This meant that we were in and out of each others rooms and running amok in the hallway.

After settling in we drove up to Tannstaðabakki where a night of food, drink and cheer was waiting, set up in the barn were trestle tables and outside a BBQ was just getting fired up. It didn’t take long after we arrived to find Toti and his troop and I set off with Silja and Birta as they showed me the things they had discovered like the dog with young litter which was getting a lot of attention from all the youngsters or the horses that they liked to pat. A little while later a joyous sound rang out when Soley arrived and we gave each other a big hug.

Soley and Me

After Mum, Matthew and I had been introduced to a variety of people and short conversations of English were spoken, the adults grouped off and started talking in Icelandic to each other and Mum, Matthew, Soley and I headed down to the “beach” and explored, played and had our own merriment.

Matthew, Soley and I Mum and Matthew Soley Beach Treasures

Once the sun had started to move away and the wind started to blow across the water we headed back up to the barn to spend the night humming along to Icelandic Folk Songs whilst the rest of the crew sang, smiled and had fun. Since Mum, Matthew and I aren’t exactly up with the whole Icelandic thing, most of the songs we stood round watching. There were some songs however which were ones we knew in English, so we could sing along to those ones. More often the case was that I buzzed about taking photos and Matthew and Mum stood round talking.

Hafþór playing guitar hafthor at the moot Ma familia! Matthew and Mum Toti and Skúli Matthew and Hatti (Hörður)

Day 8 – July 2, 2005
The night before Skúli had passed around word that if any one who was interested could come watch the milking of the cows in the morning, so of course Mum, Pabbi and I took up the offer and actually were the only ones and arrived before the milking had started so we went for a walk along the fjord as Pabbi pointed out the places he had played as a young fella and what had changed over the years.

Horses in the sun Tannstaðabakki Dairy Cows

After a while we walked back up the farm and chatted to Skúli and Guðrún as they went about the dairy business.

Once we got back to Reykjaskóla and had our breakfast where Mum was just as excited as she had been since our first trip to the grocery store at the chance to have Sour Milk on her cereal (much better than buttermilk). Mum and Pabbi headed off to chat to people I guess and Matthew probably was sitting somewhere listening to his MiniDisc player I headed off to act like an 8yr old with my nieces. Taking silly photos, playing soccer and attempting to play croquet, passing the camera round to whom ever wanted to take photos with it; Silja, Birta, Nonni(?) and who knows who else – it is not me, my camera and my life but us, my camera and our life 🙂

Atli Hjartarson Hello Shoes Me My Golden Girl Iceland in all aspects Birta ??? soccer!

Around midday everyone headed up to Tannstaðabakki, where we were told about some of the things that they are now involved in with raising chickens, running school tours and the weather station etc. Karl had come up from Reykjavik by now so it was fun to have him around to join in on the fun and games. Birta had taken my camera again by now and was no longer just taking photos of people in “Team Red” but all the “Teams”.

After the tour was over we headed back to Reykjaskóla where Matthew and Karl played foxtail with one of the bags of clothes that we had left with him to bring up. Considering the things those two have played foxtail with over the years (old Christams trees etc) it was no surprise when they started this up. As we carried stuff in from his car, Matthew had now grabbed my camera and started taking some photos.
Me, you and you

Once we were all settled we went over to the Reykir Folk Museum which is just near the school and suprise suprise Guðrún was on the door, collecting admission and handing out guides. This museum is chock full of items from the local area including quite a few items that were made by my great, great grandfather Einar Skúlason in the mid to late 1800’s.

2005_07_02-15_31_32--img_2170 2005_07_02-15_29_36--img_2163 2005_07_02-15_29_15--img_2162 2005_07_02-15_28_55--img_2161

It also includes a boat which was made in 1875 from drift wood for use a shark fishing boat in Winter and was in use until 1915, as well as a tiny boat that came in two halves for easy transport on horses, as well as a couple of reconstructed interiors of 1800’s homes.

After the museum, Matthew and I headed off to the games room with a whole troop of people from the “Pall Palsson Wing” to play air-hockey, table-tennis, mini-golf and other assorted games that we came up with what we found around.
Air Hockey

However the sun was beckoning and after looking at the egg laying hens; Soley, Birta and Jökull decided to make a dam in the little stream that came from a hot spring up the hill a bit; I joined in, offering advice and warming my arms and legs in the warm water.

dam building Dam Building

Once the dam had been built to the best of our capabilities it was time for all the kidlets and adults to be rounded up to get dressed up for the dinner. We were all on our best behaviour as we found our place card and listened to speeches that we had only a few ideas as to their content. After filling up on a wide array of foods including some very yummy brussel sprouts, I moved over to the table where Matthew was sitting and for some reason we started building little boats out of the place-cards and using wax from the tea lights to give them weight. After we had each made one or two we raced as slowly as we could down to the stream to launch our boats. Along the way we managed to draw the attention of some other kidlets and Karl and before long we had raced back up stairs to the dining room to scrounge more place-cards and tea lights to make more boats to have an all out boat race.

P7010233 P6300232 copy P6300230 go boat go

Before too long though the boats started to get shipwrecked on the banks and had to be decommissioned as race boats. Then we moved down to the shore where there were more kidlets playing in the late night sun; skimming rocks, playing round the whale bone, digging and having fun.

enjoying the evening sun 2005_07_02-22_29_58--img_2198 2005_07_02-22_27_15--img_2194 Whale Bone at Reykjaskoli

This next photo is one I really like because there is my shadow as I take the photo, Karl and Matthew in the middle finding suitable skimming rocks and Hafthor and Soley are in the background heading off home.


Once the youngest kidlets were tucked up in bed, it was time for the mice to come out and play 🙂

Skúli been a man of many talents had called up his band to play for a barn dance where we had fun drinking and watching people dancing before joining in on the chicken dance and the hokey pokey, watching Toti and Anna show off their dancing skills as they tore up the gym floor with their fancy footwork and seeing my parents the happiest I had seen them in ages dancing together on the gym floor. Once we were all tired out from dancing or watching we headed outside to stand round with a few drinks sharing stories and making jokes.


Day 9 – July 3, 2005
This was a lazy day, we packed up our gear and headed back to Reykjavik to pick up Aunty Margaret from the airport and Karl’s car before driving back to Borgarnes to spend the night with Hjördís who had prepared a stellar lasagne for tea and to do more washing in preparation for the start of our trip round Iceland in the morning.