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(Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈstn̥aiːfɛlsˌnɛːs])

 

One thing I have to say about the Snæfellsnes peninsula – it’s far more than just the mouthful of oddly punctuated vowels that it takes to say it.

 

It’s sort of a mini–Iceland unto itself.  Snæfellsnes comprises a large peninsula that contains most of what Iceland has to offer within. Volcanoes, fjords, glaciers and waterfalls can all be found in this fairly manageable and easily accessible part of Iceland.

 

Check out the odd church in the background

Check out the odd church in the background

We drove from Reykjavik to Stykkishólmur, which is a small fishing village on thenortheastern end of the peninsula. It seemed like it took about three or four hours to get there, but we did stop a bit so I’m not sure.  I do remember the drive was direct and easy with lots of scenery.

 

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Hotel Egilson

After we arrived at Stykkishólmur and checked into the Hotel Egilsen, we took a spin out to the Snaefellsjökull National Park. It was a bit overcast, but we saw some amazing sights in the short few hours we were there.   Clearly, it was a mistake not to allow at least two days to explore the peninsula, as it was stunning.  We only stayed one night.

I should have climbed this giant shark fin.

I should have climbed this giant shark fin.

 

P1060268Our room in the Hotel Egilsen offered a commanding view of the StykkishólmurHarbor.  It’s a small, quaint harbor enveloped by a remarkable headland that juts out over high basalt columns that face the harbor.  A thousand Islands serve as the backdrop and we felt like we were on the edge of the planet.  Indeed, this is the premier launching spot to travel to the remote West Fjords (by ferry).

These basalt columns are HUGE

These basalt columns are HUGE

The hotel was small but stylish and comfortable. It was an easy walking distance to the headland as well as local attractions, including the “library of water” http://www.libraryofwater.is.

We ate the world’s best fish soup across the street at Narfeyrarstofa, (http://www.narfeyrarstofa.is), a restaurant clearly touched by the Fish God, with seafood so fresh it’s practically still swimming, and unique, outstanding recipes.  I wish I were there right now.  We had homemade surprise for desert (they won’t tell you what it is), which turned out to be excellent ice cream.  That night was chocolate and caramel with sea salt made that day by our server.

People in Stykkishólmur were nice and friendly in a small town kind of way, and interesting and intelligent in an Iceland kind of way. Kids from Reykjavik migrate to locations like Stykkishólmur to work during the summer. They’re fun to talk to and brightened up our experience.  There was also a big hot spring/mineral pool facility that we did not experience but looked fun.

There’s a big fishing and marine life culture in Stykkishólmur. Until recently, the town was almost entirely self-sustainable. They have boats with their own unique hull design, which allows maximum stability and access during massive tidal swings (over twelve feet). It would be fairly easy to secure a sightseeing or fishing trip with a local boat owner.  The hotel mentioned that they could arrange it.

These sterns are unique to this area.

These hull designs are unique to this area.

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I spent the whole morning we were there exploring the headland. I took in endless P1060389vistas, saw dozens of different kinds of sea birds, including puffins, and walked through fields of wild flowers.  There was also a cool old lighthouse. Standing beside it, gazing down at the basalt columns from above, they looked otherworldly, marching in formation out to sea.  Being on the headland was like being in a scene from The Hobbit, lush, green, and powerful.

Tourist at the cool little lighthouse that has probably saved a thousand lives.

Tourist at the cool little lighthouse that has probably saved a thousand lives.

The Icelandic gull. They are small with a fully white head and body.

The Icelandic gull. They are small with a fully white head and body.

The Arctic Tern.

The Arctic Tern.

Flowers of every color and shape dotted the headland.

Flowers of every color and shape dotted the headland.

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The trail was epic; green, lush and soft.

The trail was epic; green, lush and soft.

The views of the islands and west fjords was mesmerizing.

The views of the islands and west fjords was mesmerizing.

On a more social note, at breakfast, one of the guests had an earache.  The waiter made a phone call and had her a doctor’s appointment in 15 minutes.  Nobody waits more than a day to see the doctor in Iceland and healthcare is free, or as they put it, “paid by everyone for everyone.”  What a concept.  They care more about each other’s health than they do about profits.

A locals house on a rock hundreds of feet above the ocean with 360 degree views .

A locals house on a rock hundreds of feet above the ocean with 360 degree views .

After a great breakfast while watching other tourists make a mad dash to the ferrygoing to the West Fjords, we climbed back into the jeep and headed east.

Here is a link to 98 pictures I took of this area, if you would like to see more http://adobe.ly/2bgiYRu

Feel free to ask questions and I will get back to you as best I can.

My next post is going to be on the ins and outs of driving in Iceland.   Thanks for dropping by.

Onward we go.

Onward we go.