Day Eleven, Noooo, our Ring Road trip is coming to an end.
OK, so a slight play on words, we left Arnarstapi today which is dwarfed by the backdrop of Snæfellsjökull. This is a 700,000-year-old glacier-capped volcano and made famous by Jules Verne in his novel “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”.
A signpost monument is dedicated to Jules Verne, showing distances to major cities through the earth’s core.
A very short (brisk) stroll from our hotel in Arnarstapi and we are at another monument (two in such a small village). This monument stands looking out to sea and is a tribute to Bárður, the leading character in a historical saga and the region’s guardian spirit.
A useful guide to Iceland
If you're tempted to tour the Land of Fire and Ice and would love to discover the whole country, then take a look at this DK Eyewitness book. This Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide is invaluable, I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into searching for more.
You can now grab the revised copy.
Boy it’s cold
As we stand on the edge of the cliffs, the weather really feels like it is turning for the worst. However, not to be deterred we head on to see another incredible view along the coastline.
Waves crashing through the rocks while birds swoop in and out, making more of an impact on the landscape.
Jumping back in the car Gary and I head onto our next intriguing piece of history. Búðakirkja, one of the oldest wooden churches in Iceland, it can’t believe it has too many parishioners attending though, it’s pretty remote.
This lovely black church was reconstructed in 1987 on the same spot where the first Búðakirkja was built in 1703.
A few good ideas for your Icelandic trip
Here's a few things we picked up ahead of our trip to make things a little smoother for us.
From the low tech traditional foldout paper map, a cigarette USB charger, and a USB chargeable torch.
All simple stuff that may be helpful on your travels.
A Trip to the beach
It has now started snowing lightly, is it really beach weather?
Well we jump out anyway, and we were so pleased we did, as apparently, seals don’t care about the weather and they were out and about frolicking and playing in the rough sea.
Spectacular to see, we could watch them for hours, it feels surreal standing on a sandy beach, while it’s snowing watching seals, but fantastic.
Don’t get complacent
As previously mentioned the weather can turn quickly, up until now we hadn’t really experienced anything too bad.
However, we continue to travel along the 54 east, and the snow starts to increase, it’s incredible how rapid the conditions can change. It was extremely windy as well, which made it even more hazardous with the crosswinds.
The blizzard went on for quite a while even when heading south, it’s surprising how quickly it starts to settle.
Snow behind us it’s off to find the old lighthouse in Akranes, in fact, two lighthouses & bizarrely the sun is now shining.
I’m beginning to think Gary has a bit of an obsession with lighthouses.
The original concrete lighthouse which was built in 1918 still remains, although, it was replaced in 1947 by a larger lighthouse which is regularly open to the public.
Hustle & Bustle
Now heading into the heart of Reykjavik and the peace and tranquillity of the open roads has disappeared. Not that Reykjavik is a huge city but such a contrast from the last 10 days, and we have another 24 hours to discover.
Did someone say cemetery?
Ok, so my fascination with cemeteries and the stories that they hold continues.
We knew the Commonwealth War Graves Commission had some memorials here, however, didn’t realise there would be over 200, mostly Navy and Air Force from Canada & UK. Although we did find one from Russia.
Just before we head into the city centre, we detour to Perlan, which now houses a museum, planetarium & an observation deck across the city.
The route that we took today mainly included smooth tarmac and a few hairy moments through a blizzard. We travelled along route 54, 1, 51 & 1 again.
In total, our journey was about 204km (127 miles), and as we were jumping in and out of the car a lot today, it took us about 7 1/2 hours.
Highlight of the Day
Every trip Gary and I go on, whether it’s a mini-break near or far or a road trip we chose a ‘Highlight of the Day’, here they are for day ....
Janis; Today my highlight must be seeing the seals frolicking in the freezing cold Atlantic Ocean. I really didn’t expect to see them.
Gary; Okay, I guess I'm a little sadistic but I loved the drive. The first section as we left Arnarstapi was beautiful, and the wake-up when we hit Reykjavik reminded me how peaceful the ring road had been since we left Höfn all those days ago.
Where we stayed
For the one night, we were based in Reykjavik; we stayed at Skuggi Hotel by Keahotels. The hotel is modern, (you can’t currently find it on street view). It has underground parking, which was our main reason for choosing it and it was in a reasonably central location.
The buffet breakfast was probably one of the best on our trip, had a really wide range of food. I would stay here again.
Inspired to visit Reykjavik?
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