zondag 23 augustus 2015

IS2015 Day 20 & 21: Höfn & Stöðvarfjörður

Waking up in Klaustur I had reached my limit with the camping in Iceland. The main problem was that no matter how warm it was during the day, temperatures would severely drop during the night. 

Waking up around 2-3am because of the cold had become an affair a bit too regular for my taste - apparently the -2.5 degree certification on my sleeping bag did not apply to Iceland.

Time to set sail to Höfn!

The roads were quite similar like this all the way through. Long straights, with ever-changing scenery at the sides of it.

At one point though, I reached the edge of the Vatnajökull National Park. Vatnajökull is one of the largest glaciers of Europe, and has several smaller glaciers surrounding it.

One of those exits at a lake, creating the Jökulsárlón ice lagoon, which is filled with icebergs.

Awesome, isn't it?


I was amazed though that, once again, the weather seemed to be on my side.

I mean, for a country I was told it would have highly volatile weather, I was already having over a week of sunny days. Ofcourse, there was the odd rain cloud in the distance, but it never really amounted to more than just that.

It must've been one of the reasons why generally, just like today, the riding went really smoothly. It wasn't long until I reached the little harbor town of Höfn.

And Höfn starts with a..... ?

Yes, with a drink.

The shark dish Hákarl is traditionally washed down with Brennivin, which is the Icelandic firewater with a taste akin to that of vodka. It proved to be quite hard to find the stuff though - it started with the fact that all alcohol beverages are sold in specific liquor stores (which bear the name 'Vínbúðin'), and those stores are only open for a few hours a day. In winter, that can drop to only one hour a day.

This is because the chain of liquor stores in Iceland is government run, aiming to restrict the consumption of alcohol amongst the Icelandic population. 

I thought back to the ferry to the Faroe Islands, where Johannes (one of the Faroese men I shared the cabin with) had bought himself a bottle of whiskey on board and instead of just taking a swig every now and then just gulped the stuff down like it was mouthwash. 

As you can imagine, that left quite the impression on a guy whose esophagus already burns to a crisp by just smelling strong liquor.

Leaving the liquor store, I got an idea why the government had taken these measures. I swerved a bit too deeply, and the right pannier hit a curb, making a sound like a gun went off.

When I came back from eating at a nearby restaurant, I saw an arriving visitor inspecting the Beast and the panniers. I'd left them on, as I didn't need anything from the cases and couldn't be bothered lugging them inside my crummy room in the guesthouse.

"Nice bike, right?" I said, as I approached him. 
"It's yours?" the guy said with a heavy American accent.
"Yes it is."

"Awesome. I was just saying to my friend here, 'I would love to meet the guy riding this thing' "

Well, it seems like your wish is granted.

His name was Ryan, and he had flown from Seattle to visit Iceland with a few friends of his. Back at home, he rode a Ducati, but he'd never seen a Transalp in the US. To my knowledge, that was simply because after the initial white models from the 80s not many were imported, if any.

Doing some research, I came to noticve that apparently, the specific guesthouse I was staying at was reviewed as the worst (#20 out of 20) on Tripadvisor.

The breakfastroom was right outside my own, the bathroom was shared with 9 other rooms, so yeah, I could guess why this specific establishment got less favourible reviews.

But at least the weather was good!

But not so much on the next day, though.

The plan for this day was just to head East, and see where I'd arrive next. I had 4 days left to arrive back at the ferry port in Seyðisfjörður, so I could take my time.

Once again, the sun was in my wake.

The coastal roads were amazing. Roads were carved out of the hillside, giving you a splendid view of the sea.

Mind you, the mountains were spectacular too. Just look at those lines and colours...!

There was still a tiny bit of gravel left though. Nothing too bad, and quite smooth compared to the stuff I'd had in the Westfjords.

Looking for a camp site, I spotted this lot at a farm...

...but after I taking a few pictures, trying to find a reception or toilet house (and consequently finding out that they didn't exist)

...I decided to try my luck elsewhere. I don't like it when camp sites ask money for just a patch of land, especially in a country where you can camp in the wild.

Like in this place, for example.

Riding was too pleasurable though in this weather, so I kept on the throttle for a while longer.

In Breiðdalsvík I filled up, and decided I'd stop for the day at the next good spot.

But not after taking a few good pictures.

Hmmm yes.

Quite quite.

In the next town of Stöðvarfjörður I pulled in, to find this little camp site.

Just a sink and two toilets, but that'll do me.

(especially since it had this view)

I was joined at the camp site by a French family. Everywhere I'd stopped today I'd heard French being spoken, and ending the day here, it was obvious that this part of Iceland was highly popular by the French.

A productive couple of days it had been. In the coming days though, I found out that not only was the best still to come, I also found out about the one ubiquitous law applying to all bikers traveling to Iceland for the first time...

IS2015 Random - Day 20 & 21
With a French connection...
Posted by The Dekatria Project on Monday, August 24, 2015