Sunday, 29 June 2014

Adventures from Akranes

A 10 hour day exploring..Akranes (camp) > Rekholt >Husafell >>

See Museum at Reykholt and learn about Snorri Sturluson...(Very Important Person..there's always Google). Fascinating. Sue spots her birthday present in the attached shop...I'm still recovering. Talking of which, recovering the  tax is a convoluted process involving passports, forms, envelopes and more. Taxing is the word..but worth it.

See the biggest hot spring in Europe. Apart from completely misting up the shades, this is truly incredible - they pump the water at 97 degrees Celcius 75km and get a temperature drop of only 5 degrees or so. 180 litres/second, that's how. Hot stuff.

See the Hraunfossar falls, emerging from under the lava field then move on, deciding to take the 60km Kaldidalur interior route on an unmade remote road through the Kaldidalur valley, seeing the  Eriksjokull, Okokokull, Langjokull and Porisjokull (Glaciers), then passing through a large grey desert (known for sandstorms). Checked out it's passable on the interweb earlier and it proves to be rough in places but fine. Much easier than the 4x4 track we did last week. Uplifting. Magic. Words can't describe it..I'm no Wordsworth...but you"ve worked that out already...

As if that wasn't enough, we emerge in the 'Golden Circle' and see some of the historic sites here.....but what makes it truly fascinating is that it's here that we can see the North American / Euasian rift.  The plates are moving apart at 1.5cm/yr....I make that 0.0000029 cm/minute. Can't see it myself.

Finish our stay here with a communal meal, entertained by the family of our hosts who run the local museum and restaurant. Special moment.

See lots more but you're bored by now. How about some pics?
Damn....forgotten the tea bags
Only another 50km to go....
We"re drifting apart...luckily, only at 1.5cm/year
Family talent....very Icelandic
By a local artist....

Saturday, 28 June 2014


A visit to Reykjavik.

...A coach trip as a group for a change. Of course, we all go our own ways once we get there. Although Reykjavik is the capital ...and where most Icelanders live, it's got quite an intimate feel about it, plus some wonderful architecture; the opera house is a really uplifting place.

After visiting some of the 'must sees', we stroll around the centre, taking in the atmosphere (the vibe!!), we listen to a (great) band doing a promtion for Spotify & Siminn and then take coffee at a smart coffee bar, frequented by the youth of the town...which is great...probably the thing we miss about our working life. There's a slightly edgy feel can sense it. Nightlife must be fun..but not for us 'mature' types probably.

We could spend two or three days here....decisions, decisions

Images; Opera House, Viking ship sculpture, the Hallgrimskirkja, cityscape, the band..but who are they?

Friday, 27 June 2014

Stykkisholmur to Akranes

A straightforward run down to Akranes so we stop off at the Gerouberg Basalt Columns...and can't resist climbing to the top. The columns are a magnificent sight from below actually.
Two of our group's motorhomes bump towards us along the pot-holed access road....the now-familiar adventurous types... and we exchange plans and stories.
We walk to a minute deserted church, so common out here. The churches are fascinating and probably warrant a post of their own sometime....I'll do that. Let me say that I have no religious beliefs but I find the part that religion plays in any society a fascinating are the buildings themselves.

Anyway, we're relaxing here for a least I am, after sorting out my expiring mobile contract...Sue's sorting the washing ...the SUN is OUT...first time for a while. Here for four nights...trip to Reykjavik tomorrow.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Around Stykkisholmur

 Wonderful day....back late (and a meeting in the nearby golf clubhouse plus socialising plus Viking beer...)  So this is brief....

In summary, we circumnavigated the entire peninsula, visiting many of the highlights. The magic moment for us was driving the Touareg right up to the Stykkisholmur glacier, climbing up a 4x4 track (and more) sometimes cut between snow banks... in high wind and driving rain.

Video Clip: HERE

Here's the result:

...travelling tomorrow

A few more images:
church with style

Scary guardian

spot the elf.....

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Blondous to Stykkisholmur

Around 165 miles via Borgarnes.....luckily we decide to avoid the unmade track across the top of the peninsula which has seriously deteriorated it seems....Tales of fellow motorhomers rescuing tourists caught out by the mud and potholes.
We make a couple of stops on the way and also stop to pick up two English hitch hikers, just having left college, now travelling around here. We met them earlier and a motorhoming couple had also given them a lift. One is off to teach in China and the other starting his own business. Great guys.

As we approach Stykkishholmur, we begin to see signs of past volcanic activity, passing through an old (in Icelandic terms) lava field. This makes a stark contrast with the lush green slopes of the earlier part of our journey down here - the land of sudden changes....and surprises. We're here for two nights to explore the surroundings ... so a little more later.

After setting up, we drive through the rain into the (attractive) town, see the water museum, where large  vertical columns of glacial water are preserved in patterns - it's ART with a little bit of science.... more about this and the town .HERE

A meal in town with fellow adventurers, and now we're snug in the van (which seems to shrug off the iffy roads with impunity) - with some decent WiFi, too. Blog away in comfort for a change.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

At the Top of the World

It brought it home how 'high' we are up here when I set up the satellite dish (to record the Hungarian GP obviously - football is bad for one's health). Aiming at a satellite in geostationary orbit around the equator requires a very odd looking set-up. Great reception of BBC 1 from Astra here by the way, unlike in southern Spain. The other clue to our latitude is that the sun stays on.

Hrafnagil to Blonduos

Set off early and take the beautiful scenic route around the Trollaskagi peninsula via the attractive town of Siglufjord, once a mainstay of the herring industry. Visit interesting herring processing museums and Folk museum. Hear clips of the unaccompanied folk songs that have a long tradition here and see samples of early traditional stringed instruments - see image below.

 Eat lunch in the harbour in the sunshine and chat to the waiter about life here...fascinating. Despite massive snowfalls by our standards, they generally keep the main roads's a way of life up here.

Have to pass through four tunnels on the journey, two being single track with passing places, into which the outfit fits (well in one tunnel that is...luckily didn't meet any traffic in the other one). Short video clip of this  HERE ... not great clip, but you get the idea... Look forward to a glass of Rioja when we get to the site after that.
After visiting other towns on the way, we are last but one in AGAIN... Great day AGAIN.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Icelanders...and Elves

Before we start the next leg of our journey, try this link, sent by Sam, our daughter, if you have a few minutes to spare...

Starting to look over my shoulder.....

Myvatn to Hrafnagil

A short journey (about 70 miles all told) but an interesting drive, as ever, in bright (and I mean bright) sunshine.

We were quite sad to leave the black-fly ridden lake Myvatn and it's fascinating peninsula...we will not miss walking around with nets over our heads though (modesty forbids a pic).
We drive along the surfaced N1 and stop at Godafoss (waterfall of the Gods), walking up through the spray to see falls crowned by a rainbow... magic.
Then it's back in the outfit and we're climbing to the snow line, then dropping down to visit an ancient 'turf house' at Laufas. These small Icelandic communities are fascinating...often small family businesses seem to thrive, providing essential services and binding the community together.

Hurrying to the campsite at a sports centre, we grab lunch, drop the van and spend the rest of the day at the nearest town, Akureyri (pop 18,000). This is the second largest Icelandic town and we are trying to 'get under the skin' of the country a little. The Icelanders are patiently helpful and accomodating, which makes this a really fascinating day. We are really getting into this trip.

After a meal (I try the pan fried catfish!) we return to base and share travelling stories. Now people are settling down, the Elegance is beginning to attract a lot of interest...should we be surprised?

We sort the route for tomorrow..should we go via Saudarkrokur - which means a lot of tunnels...but some fascinating landscapes? Guess we do - that's why we're here. Decision.

Time for bed...but it's still daylight. Thanks to the van's blackout I don't really have to use the fancy silk eye mask I bought..but I might just try it out pics though.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Around Myvatn

An uplifting experience, sailing on an Icelandic oak schooner alongside hump-back whales and puffins...

...see nearby geothermal power station (excellent!), climb volcanic crater (Viti), see Dettifoss falls (45m drop coupled with sheer volume sends spray hundreds of metres upwards), drive 40km on marginal unmade track in the Touareg through unbelievably desolate volcanic terrain - which is also, of course, great fun....needs a bit of a clean now though...

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Arrival in Iceland

Two nights on Smiryl Lines ferry... the most completely packed car deck...has to be seen to be believed. Highlights: food, company, seeing film Noah (filmed in Iceland). Lowlight: seeing Spain go out of the world cup. We feel your pain Espana.

packed in

Driving off the ferry up into the snow layer an uplifting, unforgettable experience.

Cool Caravan

We drive from Seydisfjordour to Egilsstadir, stock up with food from the supermarket, slotting the van into a busy but large car park. We take a detour to walk up to the Hengifoss waterfall (1 hour walk, 1 hour drive), flowing over vertical columns formed by contracting lava flows.

                                                               Hengifoss waterfall

Stop by the steam vents and bubbling mud pools caused by water being heated by the magma beneath before eventually reaching the campsite at Myvatn - last arrival but one but ...worth the detours though. The van rides well over the rough roads, although some of it is not an easy ride I have to say.

Hot Caravan

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Leaving Denmark

We drive up to the Northern tip of Denmark, avoiding the motorway in order to see some of the country. Very flat but interesting nontheless. Just two stops, though - one coffee and one (expensive) lunch. Reflect that it's a hell of a lot easier to squeeze the Swift into parking areas than the twin axle..and it's proving to be remarkably stable in the strong crosswinds.

After dropping the van off at Hirtshals campsite, near the port, we venture up to the northern-most tip of the peninsula, where two oceans 'meet' ... well worth the the tide comes in, it's fascinating to see the gulls in a feeding frenzy, diving to retrieve small fish brought in on the tide. A fleet of tankers sit here, waiting on the tide we guess.
Already, the quality of the light is changing; when the sun is out it's clear, bright and somehow sharper.

Writing this in our tardis-like temporary home on wheels, complete with music in the bathroom - really! In fact the quality is a little better in there, I think. Must do more extended listening tests....

It's 11.30pm.....and it's not dark yet.

I see no ships......hang on......good grief!

Monday, 16 June 2014

First Stop

We arrive at Harwich to board the DFDS overnight ferry to Esbjerg, Denmark and are met by our tour leaders. I'm slightly distracted by the row of wonderful classic motors in the next line...

...From Esbjerg it's a short drive to Ribe, our first overnight stop, which turns out to be a beautiful historic town. After getting to know some of our fellow adventurers and a welcome meal, we walk back into town to follow the 'night watchman' on his rounds. What a great way to learn some of the town's history.....then it's back to a hot chocolate in the luxury and warmth of the Elegance. Very nice too. Looking good.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

A Trip to Cottingham

It's a four-hour drive up the A1 to the Swift Group HQ.....then we're meeting Tom Anderton  who, after sorting the formalities, completes the hand-over of an immaculately prepared Elegance. It's the first time we've had the chance to see one of these in the flesh and we're impressed - and we're not easily impressed after all these caravanning years...

"Please don't destroy it"

We stay overnight at a great little CL in nearby Bonby to check out the van. We're used to a twin axle Sterling Searcher but we really like the Elegance decor, with it's up-market touches, sense of style and the little innovations (like a sliding wardrobe door)  that maximise the use of space. Everything works too! 
But what we're really interested in is the solidity of construction - there's a sense that this is up to the rigours of Iceland...hard to put a finger on it, but it feels right. Time will tell, of course, and there's a long way to go yet. 

Not long now...

                            ...while you're waiting, try THIS