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Monday, July 1, 2013

Day 3: Snaefellsnes

After a very nice breakfast buffet at the Hotel Stykkisholmur, which was included in the price, we went to the bus station of Stykkisholmur. It's the gasoline station at the entrance to the town right next to the campsite and the golf course. All busses depart from there. We took an early bus to Olafsvík with straeto bus, route 82. It was actually more like a van with a trailer for the luggage. Aside from us, there was only one traveller, a young German woman, who just came from the Westfjords. We wanted to go to Olafsvík mainly for the waterfalls just behind the town, the Bæjarfoss and connect that with a trip around the Snæfellsnes peninsula and a visit to another little town of Grundarfjörður.

We started our tour at 8:33 a.m. from Stykkisholmur and arrived in Olafsvík an hour later to thankfully sunny weather. We have read that the waterfall is located behind the town, not far from the already visible (Olafsvíkurkirkja) church. So we went to visit the church first and took some pictures for our collection of eccentric looking churches of Iceland. From there we already saw the waterfall, which isn't the biggest, but it was our first waterfall in Iceland and therefore something special. From the foot of the mountain, you have a nice view above the little seaside town of Olafsvík.



We still had some time after enjoying the view of the waterfall to take a short look at the town. Unfortunately,the Folk's Museum was still closed so we proceeded to the small Maritime Museum which was basically looks like just a huge container. We went in, but it disappointingly looked like a hangar with mostly scrap metals so we were out in no time. We had no problem catching the Snæfellsnes route bus at 11:30 a.m. by sterna, which also left from the gasoline station in Olafsvík where we arrived with the straeto bus. The sterna bus comes from Reykjavík, continues on a round trip to Stykkisholmur, Olafsvík, Arnarstapi and other places before it goes back to Reykjavík. The Snæfellsnes area was with a tour guide.



The young and engaging woman on the bus who guided the tour soon started to tell us about the Snæfellsnes peninsula and some of its sagas and Icelandic mythology. She also told us about the dark months in Iceland in winter and the rough nature, which clearly influenced the creating of trolls, elves and their stories. After crossing the mountains with the bus and had a short stop by the road for a photo, the next short stop was to take a look at the former home (from afar) of Iceland's first or worst serial killer, which come a little bit as a surprise. From there we continued to the first big stop, the wonderful Arnarstapi. It's a village with a small fish port, surrounded by the sea, the Snaefellsjökull (Volcano) and lava landscape. Of course the Snaefellsjökull glacier was made famous by Jules Verne in his Journey to the Center of the Earth.



From Arnarstapi the guide walked with everyone who wanted to walk (and obviously everyone wanted) along the dramatic coast with a lot of cliffs along the path and through the lava field going to another village of Hellnar. There, we went to the Information Center of the Snaefellsjökull National Park which doubles as Museum and café. An old little church was nearby overlooking the sea on one side and the glacier on the other side.



The bus continued from Hellnar to Djúpalónssandur where we walked down to the black pebbled beach. I took my first beach photos in Iceland.


Next stop was in Hellissandur where we took a look at the turf-roof houses and planted a tree as per request by the tour guide. Noteworthy along the coast near Hellissandur is the 412 meter tall Gufuskálar radio mast, the tallest structure in western Europe.


The bus continued from Hellissandur back to Reykjavík, but our individual tour was not over. I asked the driver to let us out next to the waterfall, the Kirkjufellsfoss which is along the road and about 3 kilometers west outside the village near the scenic mountain of Kirkjufell. We arrived at the waterfalls at around 4.15 p.m. and our bus from Grundarfjörður only leaves at around 7:00 p.m. so we had plenty of time to take photographs and walk to the village to catch our bus.



After we're done, we walked along the path parallel to the main road to Grundarfjörður. There, we experienced being in an Alfred Hitchcock movie, when suddenly the birds (the arctic tern) on the meadow felt threatened by our presence. Probably they are nesting and have some little terns. Especially vicious proved to be the sterna which come flying directly onto my friends head, so we continued to walk a little bit faster than we wanted to and with hood and sunglasses as protection as to not be hacked on the head. The actually didn't touch us but effectively threathened us, and only stopped when we finally reached the road next to the houses.

We rewarded ourselves with coffee and cake at the small information/museum/café for having survived "The Birds".  After that we walked around the block and my friend went to the bank to stock some cash. With the straeto bus route 82 we continued at 18.58 (6:58 p.m.) from Grundarfjörður back to Stykkisholmur. This time we were the only guests in the bus/van and were even brought directly to our hotel entrance by the friendly bus driver.





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