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MY ICELAND: Beautiful Snæfellsnes

This past weekend EPI and I attended the wedding of a dear friend. The ceremony took place here in Reykjavík and then a group of us drove up to beautiful Snæfellsnes peninsula  where there was a fabulous reception at Hótel Búðir, replete with three-course dinner and dancing afterwards.

The following day the party journeyed up to the top of Snæfellsjökull glacier where the newlyweds received yet more blessings; however unfortunately EPI and I had to opt out because we were needed back in town. However we could not resist stealing a couple of hours before heading back, to visit some of our most favourite places in the area.

First we headed to Arnarstapi, about a 20 minute drive from Búðir, headed west. It’s a small village with a tiny harbour, known for its rock formations at the seashore. The sea has carved deep caves into the sides of the cliffs, which later caved in, creating amazing arches.

Archway

There are also bird cliffs galore.

Kittiwakes

And the birds nest on top of the arches.

Birds nesting on archway

From there we drove another ten minutes or so, to Hellnar, where there is a wonderful little cafe down by the seashore. There is also the rock face.

Rock face

And more hollowed-out caves.

Hellnar shore

From there, onwards towards Djúpalónssandur. It’s a long pebble beach and when you’re right at the seashore and the waves roll in and out, it’s like the universe breathing, with the sound of a zillion pearls tinkling on the exhale [it’s really the stones … they are all perfectly smooth].

The beach at Djúpalónssandur

At the foot of the beach there is a set of stones that in the old days were used to test the strength of those who wanted a job on a fishing boat. To be hired, you had to be able to lift the stone that weighed 54 kg.

Stones

EPI’s hired.

You're hired

We also hiked over to Dritvík, which a couple of centuries ago was a major port. Up to 700 people worked there at the same time. Now it is deserted, apart from the occasional tourist. That strange rock formation always reminds me of some prehistoric beast.

Dritvík

On the way back we stopped at the maze. It’s like one of those kids’ puzzles where you have to find your way to the middle, only this one is made with stones and is a couple centuries old. It really does take some skill to find your way to the middle.

Maze

On leaving the maze and crossing the lava field, what should we see but … an elf!!

Is it an elf? A troll?

Not really – but it’s easy to see how all those stories came about in the early days, no?

By this time we’d stayed much longer than we’d planned, and it was time to head home.

The full set of pictures is here.

THE SUN JUST CAME OUT
And coloured everything rose. Just before midnight! Otherwise it’s been pretty cool today, around 8°C with a bit of wind. We now have 10°C [50F] according to yahoo weather, sunrise was at 3.05 am and sunset at 11.50 pm.

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  • SkúliSæl June 10, 2009, 1:17 am

    Really nice photos. Bring back many memories 🙂

  • Rozanne June 10, 2009, 2:23 am

    Absolutely lovely. Tell EPI I’m impressed by his ability to lift that stone. Whoa!

  • SOe June 10, 2009, 10:10 am

    Beautiful photos like always. Luckily, we did not lost you to another profession 🙂

  • Dumdad June 10, 2009, 10:35 am

    Fantastic pix. I really must visit Niceland one day.

  • Elín June 10, 2009, 12:42 pm

    A collection of your My Iceland essays and photos would make such a lovely book … or, in the short-term, a 2010 calendar available through Cafepress?

  • Alexander E. June 10, 2009, 2:42 pm

    Alda.
    Could you give GPS coordinates of that Stone Beast Face? Pliz.
    You can use ja.is/kort/ for that.
    Pliz.

  • Meagan June 10, 2009, 4:19 pm

    Thank you for this!

    On June 26th I’ll be heading to Iceland for the first time (from Canada), staying in Reykjavik. On the 28th we’re driving up to Snaefellsness and spending the night at Hotel Hellnar. Seeing your pictures just got me INCREDIBLY excited. Too excited. I can’t believe how excited I am. Knowing that I will get to experience much of this is wonderful.

    Thank you!

  • JoeInVegas June 10, 2009, 5:04 pm

    Thank you. I love pictures of places like that. Glad Epi measured up, wouldn’t want him thrown out now.

  • Nancy June 10, 2009, 6:52 pm

    The hollowed out cave is particularly stunning. I’m sure it was even more so in person. Thanks for sharing these beautiful pics!

  • idunn June 10, 2009, 7:06 pm

    Thank you for the pictures. Particularly that of the labyrinth.

  • Grif June 10, 2009, 7:49 pm

    Already marked the area for my trip this summer (staying at Grundarfjörður for the night) but now we can all try to walk in your footsteps 😛 . I say ‘we’ as Meagan sounds as she might try it as well 😉

  • alda June 10, 2009, 9:05 pm

    Thanks for your kind comments, everyone!

    Alexander – the kort doesn’t want to find the location, but that rock face is easy to find, just look for Hellnar on Snæfellsnes (on the south coast). It’s right down on the beach, next to the little cafe.

    Meagan – great! You can easily walk from Hellnar to Arnarstapi along a coastal path. It takes less than an hour and is a really nice hike.

    Grif – you’ll be on the northern part of Snæfellsnes, then – this is the southern coast, but easily accessible. 🙂

  • Ljósmynd DE June 10, 2009, 9:22 pm

    These are really wonderful places.

    One prominent thing I remember about Snæfellsnes is always running out of time, as there are so many beautiful spots and side trips diverting from the straight route. This coincides with some of the most stunning sunsets experienced in Iceland, particularly with the snowcap of the glacier tinted in all shades of red and orange.

    The peninsula is always worth a trip in summer and in winter, as it seems to be quite mild compared to other parts of the country. It is really great to drive round the Snæfellsjökull, while the view of the mountain is changing continuously.

    My favourite spot on the southern shore is the Malarrif lighthouse. And I’ll make sure to visit the area again as soon as possible to find this maze. 🙂

  • Alexander E. June 10, 2009, 10:51 pm

    “Alexander – the kort doesn’t want to find the location”

    Most funny excuse I’ve heard lately…
    Sounds like quotes from “Alda in Wonderland” – “the kort doesn’t want to find…”

    I found the place and hope to find the Stone Face.

  • Jessie June 11, 2009, 3:03 am

    Really beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  • Colin June 11, 2009, 10:25 pm

    One of my favorite places, anywhere. I have some very similar pictures including one of me holding my then 2 year old daughter on the road down to the cafe… in fact the fields around the Hotel Búðir was where we told her she was going to be a big sister, something that she seems much less excited about now. (Her sister is 4 1/2, it’s a bit late.)

    I tried the stein tok at the fishing museum and let’s just say I’m not likely to be making any career changes on the strength (or lack) of my results.