Iceland Day 2: Snæfellsnes Peninsula

As I woke from what could be described as a moderately terrible night's sleep, I was ready to get back on the road and keep exploring.  I woke up at about 5:30 AM, still not fully adjusted to a new sleeping schedule, but at least I had the whole day ahead of me.  After munching down a quick bowl of cereal, I plotted out a course for the town of Arnarstapi, which is located on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.  

Whole grain cereal with almond hazelnut milk. Actually pretty good.

As I hit the road, the gloomy weather and lack of sleep was getting to me a bit.  What started off as excitement turned into a bit of frustration and grumpiness.  These feelings completely disappeared in about 10 minutes as I began to drive through an amazing landscape of mossy rocks and snow-capped mountains.  It was still a very surreal feeling for me being here.  It's just hard to look around and not feel a sense of wonderment.  It was also hard not to want to stop every few minutes and take pictures of the landscape, but I couldn't resist.  

Your average Icelandic road. 

My first actual stop was the town of Arnarstapi.  I pulled into the coastal town in the early afternoon, ready for another mellow, but eventful day.  There is a great coastal walk that I went on that connects Arnarstapi to Hellnar, another small coastal town a few kilometers away.  Much like Þingvellir, I wasn't committing to anything too advanced or treacherous.  The walk was peaceful, and needless to say, beautiful.  The terrain changes from smooth dirt patch, to rocky volcanic rock as you weave your way along the coast.  Each area of the path offered great views of the ocean, towns, and mountains surrounding the area. 

At the end of the path, I arrived at the small town of Hellnar.  There was a small café right by the water that I read about.  I was hungry, so I stopped in.  The café was just opening as I arrived, and I was the only person there for a good 20 minutes. The menu was small, but I couldn't pass up on some fish soup.  I started with a coffee and waited patiently for the fish soup (it wasn't quite ready yet since they just opened) as I stared out of the small windows and watched the small harbor outside.  The fish soup arrived, and giddily went in for my first sip.  My mouth exploded with a wonderful rich, yet light seafood broth with small bits of vegetables and different fresh seafood.  Seriously, it was amazing.  Here, I ended up meeting a couple that was traveling from Maine and talked to them briefly about their travels.  Those bastards only had a 4 hour plane ride. 

After filling up on delicious soup and coffee, I made my way back to Arnarstapi on the same trail, only to find even more amazing views as I headed back in the opposite direction.  The view this way back was even more spectacular, as I was looking into the mountains east of Arnarstapi.  It was such a pleasant walk, and again aided to the surreal feeling I had leading up to that point.  After I got back to my car, I hit the road and continued around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

Back on the road, I made my way around the western and northern side of the peninsula, taking in the views and thinking about what to do next.  My initial plan was to spend a day in the Westfjords, but after discovering that it's about a 5 hour drive to the city I wanted to go to from Snæfellsnes, I decided to finish driving the peninsula before I found a place to stay for the night.  

On the north side of the peninsula, I stopped at the Kikjufellsfoss waterfall, one of the most photographed locations in Iceland.  It was definitely a bit touristy for my liking, but I wasn't going to pass it up for that reason.  I spent a good hour or two here taking a crack at photographing the small waterfall and the adjacent mountain.  It was a beautiful spot that I loved taking the scenery in at.  The place was flooded with photographers, all trying to get the infamous shot of the falls with Kirkjufell mountain in the back.  I can see why it's such a popular spot for photographers. 

After a pretty damn long day, I needed to find somewhere to bunk down for the night.  I began searching for campsites on the way to Akureyri, and came across one in the town of Hvammstangi.  Driving along the coast and mountainsides, the sun began to sink toward the horizon.  It was about 11 PM when I finally arrived at the campground, and there was still plenty of light left.  I boiled up some water, threw in some pasta, and watched the beautiful sky as I waited for it to cook.  After a full belly, I was ready for bed.  Not before I spent another hour and a half writing a script for one of my classes, of course. THEN I was ready for bed.

Home sweet home.