Wednesday, November 30, 2016

1 Week in Iceland: Day 5

Our fifth day in Iceland was somehow the most uneventful and eventful day of the week. It was uneventful because we basically just had two sites to visit and it was going to be a day of mostly driving. But, it was eventful because we punctured a tire and had to replace it. What an adventure!
Because we knew we'd be on the road for hours and we'd be sustaining ourselves mostly on road trip snacks, we took advantage of our kitchen and made a pretty hearty breakfast of eggs on toast. European eggs have the brightest yolks; it makes me think the chickens are really happy.

HVÍTSERKUR
Our first stop of the day was at the "troll of North Iceland" which is just a rock formation on the beach. When the tide comes in (which is how it was when we visited), it's sitting in water. But when the tide is out, you can walk right up to it. Just watch out for sneaker waves!
The problem is that to get here, we had to drive along some rough, pothole-y gravel roads. And we did fine until all of a sudden, the tire pressure indicator came on. I parked the car next to some cute horses and walked around the car to see if I could notice anything and then I heard a hissing coming from the rear right tire. We booked it to the closest gas station, which was a ten minute drive, and my dad changed the tire. Thanks, Dad! I suppose it could've been more dramatic, but honestly, it wasn't a big deal. It's not like our tire blew out or our car broke down. It was an easy fix. (But this is also one of the complaints I had with Lagoon Car Rental. I emailed them about the tire and got no response. If I had known, maybe I would've arranged to have the punctured tire patched and saved myself $200.)
SNAEFELLSNES PENINSULA
Our "second" stop of the day was the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. We basically drove around the entire thing and even though it was rather foggy, it was beautiful.
KIRKJUFELL & KIRKJUFELLSFOSS
The most well-known bit of Snaefellsnes is probably Kirjufell, which is a conical mountain with a little waterfall nearby.
It was raining sideways when we walked out here, which was painful but still fun to endure. Several people enjoyed the view from their cars before moving on but we went for it. No pain, no gain.
As we drove around the peninsula, we stopped at various points that seemed interesting to us. Just after the mountain and falls, we stopped at this little black sand beach to enjoy the crashing waves.
ÓLAFSVÍK
We stopped in this little town to grab some hot dogs (with everything, of course) and to do a quick wander. Olafsvik is a tiny port town but it's really cute. There are colorful houses, a pretty cool church, and of course, a waterfall.
HELLISSANDUR
We also stopped in the town of Hellissandur to admire some turf houses and cool lava fields.
When we got to the west side of the peninsula, we encountered some pretty heavy fog.
DJÚPALÓNSSANDUR
This was a gem of a stop. We actually got to walk through some impressive rock formations onto a beach. It was beautiful. We saw a tour group get out of a bus here and it really depressed me. They were being shuffled around and they were given time limits. Granted, we gave ourselves time limits too, but I know I would have hated adhering to someone else's schedule. I loved the flexibility of having our own rental car and creating our own itinerary.
VATNSHELLIR CAVE
Vatnshellir is closed in the winter, but apparently you can take a winding spiral staircase down into this lava cave which is cool. Even if it was open I wouldn't have gone because heights and enclosed spaces like that give me anxiety. I could endure it, but I would prefer not to.
We made our way around the perimeter of Snaefellsjökull and we did attempt to get a bit closer but it was just so foggy we didn't think we'd be able to see it so we kind of gave up and just headed back towards Grundarfjörður, where we were spending the night.
H5 APARTMENTS
We stayed at our second apartment of the trip and it was amazing. I can't recommend this place enough. It was really affordable and it was humongous and it's in a great location. The grocery store is a two minute walk, which is awesome. The apartment itself is really clean and well-maintained, the kitchen was well-stocked, and Gunnar, the owner, was great about instructing us how to let ourselves in and left loads of useful information on a bookshelf for us to peruse.
SAMKAUP
For dinner that night, we made lamb burgers with sauteed mushrooms, garlic rice pilaf, a big salad, and buttered toast. It was a v. satisfying meal. And the burgers themselves were so good. Usually, I find lamb to be really gamey and not that flavorful but I suppose it's because the sheep here just roam free so the meat tastes really good.
That evening, even though the aurora forecast was favorable, the weather was not. It was raining pretty hard so we decided not to go aurora hunting. We were really grateful for our experience on Day 2 since we didn't have much luck the rest of the week.

Here's my travel map:

Here's my video diary:

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