zaterdag 22 augustus 2015

IS2015 Day 18 & 19: Vík & Kirkjubæjarklaustur

The weather in Þingvellir had been pretty schizophrenic during the night. The rain was stop-start, and reminded me once again that my tent's best days were long gone.

During the night, I was awoken by the sound of a truck. Knowing that I wasn't camping next to a road or a construction site, I peeked my head outside...

...only to discover a huge Dakar truck had pulled up next door.

Now, when you are in a place with stagnant water but without wind, the Icelandic flies (or my's) will come and harass you to the best of their abilities. These insects won't sting you, but they will nonetheless irritate the hell out of you simply by sitting anywhere they please. Hands, feet, eyeballs, nostrils, you name it.

Luckily, I had also some protection for that, so I could pack my tent in peace.

Then it was time to get out of there.

Þingvellir had indeed been beautiful, but today I had other matters to attend to.

I first wanted to get to Geysir (to uh... see a geyser) and then it was time for Mount Hekla.

My special visor proved its worth this time around though. The sticker on it is not just blatant spam - I put it on there in such a way that it blocks a low sun, which is something the built-in sun visor struggles with on longer trips (as it is, it's just not good enough, and strains the eyes).

With a sticker like this you simply sacrifice seeing all the sky for giving your eyes some shade, and having a clear field of view.

In the mean time, it dawned on me that I hadn't seen the last stretch of gravel yet.

In a strange way, I kind of liked the idea that they didn't seem to care in Iceland whether there were people crossing ongoing roadworks.

The mount of gravel deposited by this lorry was flattened by a bulldozer, which even saw fit to make me a ramp.


Then, it was time for Geysir. Here, let me give you the dime tour:

IS2015 - Geysir Park
Things get to a boiling point!
Posted by The Dekatria Project on Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hekla would be next. On my way, I couldn't help but thinking I had somehow found my way back to the Netherlands again. The scenery was flat, there was endless agriculture, bucket loads of wind...

...and round abouts!

Just let me check for sure whether I haven't taken a wong turn or anything...

But no. It was now time to ride Road 26 to Leirubakki, and get educated on what is one of Iceland's largest volcanoes.

I had already seen it in the distance. It felt awe-inspiring seeing that thing from miles away, with its peak shrouded in clouds.

Here's the final miles until the info centre at Leirubakki.

IS2015 - Riding towards Hekla
Towards the Gates of Hell!
Posted by The Dekatria Project on Saturday, August 22, 2015

After going through the museum, the receptionist pronounced the impossible name of Eyjafjallajökull from me. Ofcourse it didn't make sense to me, but later I cracked it, as "jökull" is simple the word used for 'glacier'.

It's quite simple - the 'll' in Icelandic is pronounced as 'tl', so the name is roughly pronounced as follows:


Easy right?

The info I read about the history on Hekla was downright scary though. Some of the past eruptions were apparently that powerful they could be heard from Patreksfjörður - you know, that little town in the Westfjords that we passed through a few days ago.  The clouds of tephra and ash had some disastrous consequences for both the wildlife and the population, which saw its crops destroyed.

Hekla's last eruption was in the year 2000 and it has since laid dormant. However, the mountain is now 5 years overdue for a new eruption, leaving people apprehensive of what may follow when the 'Gateway to Hell' opens again.

Mission accomplished.

Now, all that was left for me was to get me and the Beast back to the ferry in one piece. 

On the way back I passed this cyclist, who just picked up her bike as I approached her. I enquired whether she was alright, but I was not to worry.

I came across multiple travelers on bicycles on this trip, and I always put out a thumbs-up whenever I passed them, which was always met with a smile. I mean, people call me brave for going on these trips, but these guys are on a whole other level, cycling on roads where people tear past them at 90 kph.

Back at the juncture with Road 1, I resupplied and topped up the tank...

...after which I wanted to take a picture with that waterfall you see in the distance.

Unfortunately, being as close to Reykjavik as we were, there were about 5 million tourists that had the same idea.

But that's OK, because the benefit of a motorbike is...

...that you don't need to fight for a parking spot.

There we go.

Now, where were we...

Ah yes, head down the southern coast a bit further.

Coming from the relatively quiet North, I was quite appalled at the sheer number of foreigners everywhere. It didn't really matter where you stopped - if it was a glacier, waterfall or lavafields - you could bet your eyes there would be tons of people hoarding the location.

Lots of tourists always tend to take away from the experience for me. Ofcourse, I'm well aware that I'm a tourist myself as well, but as it is I just enjoy the big, empty nothingness much more than a beehive of Nikons and giftstores.

I thought of the next sight to see, and remembered that in this area you also had the 'black beach'.

It's called that way because it's a beach that's uh... black.

I was sort of hoping that things would be different there in terms of crowdiness...

...but ofcourse this was not the case.

The place itself was bizarre though, unlike anything I had ever seen.

The sand is simply volcanic basalt sand, which in turn...

...makes a beach black.

I was fast approaching the nearby town of Vík. Winds had been tremendously strong the entire day, pummeling the crap out of for the entire Southern coast. The wind was blowing in a westerly direction, so I had the wind head-on for most of the day.

It was when the road turned right to head into Vík that a sudden gust of wind wanted to remind me I was everything but invincible, and how close peril can be on a trip like this.

My thoughts were as follows:


Despite my best efforts I was blown off the road, entering the grass shoulder at 90 kph.

I remembered reading that the best way to handle coming off the road like this is just let the bike coast to a halt, and not go near the brakes. I just prayed there weren't any rocks or ditches obscured from view.

Mercifully there weren't, and the Beast slowly came to a halt.

"Okay," I thought, "Let's not do that again".

In the town of Vík, Beast soon enough found a soulmate.

The town just has a couple of hundred citizens, but thanks to its good location it tends to do quite well for itself in terms of tourism.

At one of the local guesthouses, I deemed it time to recharge all the batteries.

If you're ever in Vík, look up 'Kosy vík'. It's probably one of the best places you'll stay at. Breakfast was included, everything was en suite, and the wifi was excellent.

All of the above sadly was not a guarantuee with the places that I had stayed at so far, making this quite the refreshing visit.

Upon departure I left my mark, and set off.

I felt a bit down, if I'm honest. I wasn't really my normal self, so I decided to have a short leg today.

So passing black fields...

...colorful vegetation...

...and lavasculptures... wasn't all too long un til I reached the little town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur (pr kirkjuhbyejuhkluster - I memorized it by turning it into the Dutch 'Kerkjebijjeklooster'). Most Icelandics just call it 'Klaustur' though, and I don't blame them.

Horse, horse, horse, steeeeeeeeeeeed!

The camp site was quite beautiful. It was right at the bottom of a cliff, which you could even climb to oversee the entire coast.

I used the time to give the Beast a look-through, checking tire pressure, oil, and any damage I might have missed. .. and what I discovered was quite disturbing.

Apparently, the rough going on all the gravel roads had loosed the two front bolts of the left crashbar. The bottom had come out that far I could just remove it with a single twist.

I messaged Giuseppe to inform him of my discovery, and be weary of loosened bolts himself. Something which, as it turned out later, came a little bit too late...

Tomorrow, time to move into the South-East!

IS2015 Random - Day 18 & 19
Rock and roll onwards!
Posted by The Dekatria Project on Sunday, August 23, 2015