Time to get back on our mini-bus and circumvent circumnavigate the Snæfellsnes peninsula.
We headed westward, in the direction of the Snæfellsnes glacier. As we drove along the coast, with sparkling sea on the one side and awe-inspiring mountains on the other, I thought about how the mountains on Snæfellsnes always seem to have a different hue than those elsewhere in Iceland. I don’t know what it is. Something about the light, which is very serene yet at the same time infused with a special kind of energy.
We drove through the small towns that for centuries have derived their sustenance from fishing [and still do], the first one being Grundarfjörður. This is the site of one of the most stunning mountains in Iceland, Mt. Kirkjufell, or “Church Mountain”. Imagine waking up to a view of this every morning:
Just opposite the mountain [according to our guide] is one of the most popular ice climbing locations in Iceland. Apparently there are all sorts of small frozen waterfalls in the winter, and people come from far and wide to climb there:
We made a brief stop in the small village of Ólafsvík — a place that is very special to EPI as he spent one winter there teaching when he was younger. [EPI is not a teacher, but occasionally there is a shortage of teachers in rural areas and they then hire people who are qualified but do not necessarily have the requisite training.] As you can see, it was very warm [by Icelandic standards], and some of the locals needed cooling off:
By this time we were pretty much underneath the glacier, and a few minutes later we were at the end of the peninsula, which provided us with a fantastic view:
The ice cap is still very visible seen from that side, but sadly, on the south side there is hardly anything left of it at this time of year. As a result of global warming, the ice cap has retreated from around 22 square km to around 11 in just a few years:
Our next stop was Djúpalónssandur [Deep Lagoon Sands] — an amazingly beautiful black pebble beach that used to be an old fishing station. I’ve written before about how they used to make potential fishermen lift rocks to test whether they were strong enough to be hired, and those rocks are still there for anyone who wants to test their strength. The pebbles and stones on this beach are incredible — all with perfectly rounded edges, having been smoothed by the tide over years and years, and feel like silk to the touch. Also, the sound of the tide rolling in and out is so beautiful — those stones make a tinkly, pearly sound as they roll in the surf that I could happily listen to all day long. So meditative and soothing.
There were quite a few people there:
EPI skipped a few stones in the surf:
Such a beautiful day and I was so sorry to leave. But there was still one more stop to be made before heading home. From Djúpalónssandur we drove to Arnarstapi, a small village known for its amazing bird cliffs and rock formations. I’ve been to this place many times [even spent a long weekend there once] and it just never gets old.
The birds are so close you can almost touch them — though you wouldn’t want to risk it because those cliffs are STEEP.
This mommy did not care for company:
The sea has carved out incredible formations in the cliffs:
And the basalt columns are spectacular and take many forms, like this, reminiscent of logs:
Alas, by this time it was almost 6 pm and time to head back to town. The day had been spectacular, the scenery breathtaking, and the entire tour left us elated and refreshed.
Reykjavík Excursions offers the Wonders of Snæfellsnes with Cruise tour throughout the summer, from June to August.