Denise Goldberg's blog

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


I had a bit of an argument with myself this morning, deciding whether I should wander in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. I know, I know, I had already decided; letting go of plans can be good sometimes.

First it was time for a good breakfast, the best of the trip so far. Even though I was the only guest last night, their usual breakfast buffet was set up. There were some interesting choices of rolls - a cinnamon and current roll with some blueberry jam jumped onto my plate to accompany my cereal. There were chunks of bananas and melon, and then some Iceland pancakes topped with some sugar sparkle. An excellent taste treat.

I spent some time chatting with Óli (the guesthouse owner) this morning about my travel direction. I almost changed to continue around the island in a clockwise direction instead of doubling back twice - once today and again when I head back to Reykjavik. I would have loved to continue to the east this morning to see more of the volcano's black decorations, the ones that remind me so much of Hawaii. The weather forecast really isn't cooperating, and I let that make my final decision. I still want to see Geysir, Gulfoss, and possibly Þingvellir National Park, all part of what is called the Golden Circle, doable as a long day trip out of Reykjavik. It's north and east of Reykjavik on the south side of the island. I want to get to Skaftafell National Park (home of glaciers), and to the glacial lagoon on the south coast. I thought about continuing east from Akureyri, looping to the south and switching back to the west to (probably) end my day in Hofn. That would mean no doubling back, just completing a circle. I was set to do that until I looked at the weather forecast. Today was forecast to be sunny, the first and probably last day of sun that I will see during this trip. Tomorrow the rain is supposed to start in Hofn and Skaftafell. While the Geysir and Gullfoss area is supposed to be cloudy tomorrow, the rain isn't supposed to start until the next day. Hmm... It didn't take too much thinking to decide to go for the possibly dry day. I headed west, south, and then east today.

No surprise to me, I haven't been very successful with pronouncing the names here. When I hear the correct pronunciations, I'm not terribly surprised that I'm not guessing right. Let's see, how do you think Hofn is pronounced? I figured that sound would come from all 4 letters, something like hof'n. Nope. It's pronounced hup. Short u.

Another mystery... Þingvellir? Or Thingvellir? Which is the proper name of the park? The article on the park in Wikipedia starts with a note that indicates if the character Þ is not available, the name of the park my be spelled as Thingvellir. Are you confused yet?

The sky this morning was pure blue, a wonderful surprise when I opened the shade to let the outside light enter my room. Some wisps of white added some interest. The blue background remained until I headed south from Borgarnes, at which point it appeared that a switch had been pulled. Layers of clouds appeared, grays and whites, still allowing rays of light to penetrate to the ground.

I managed to find a few spots to pull off of the road during my pretty much all-day drive. Sometimes it was a bit past the interesting spot, giving me some much needed walking as I headed back to whatever it was that caught my eye. The Ring Road continued it's shoulder-less state for much of the day; past Reykjavik I noticed that there were sections that actually had a paved shoulder. I wonder how long that will continue.

Borgarnes, a town about 70 kilometers north of Reykjavik pulled me in for some relaxing time near the water, walking, watching the clouds, enjoying the warmth of the sun. Then it was time to jump back in the car for the final bit of travel today. When I drove north on Saturday I drove around Borgarfjordur (47 kilometers according to the signs). Today I shortened the drive by taking the tunnel under the fjord. It's 6 kilometers long, and it started with an 8% (downhill) grade. Luckily there are kilometer markers in the tunnel; that let me know how much longer I would be under the water. No cyclists or walkers allowed... if you're biking around Iceland you will need to take the around the fjord route.

Past Reykjavik, the terrain changed noticeably. The ground was dressed in green, and it wasn't close to flat. Steam rose in places, and I could see long stretches of pipes, pipes that I assume are used to transport some of Iceland's geothermal energy.

As I expected, the drive today took a bit longer than I could predict from the total kilometers. I seem to have a knack for lengthening drives by stopping whenever the spirit moves me. After all, driving without looking around and enjoying my surroundings wouldn't make me as happy as stopping does.

My wanders ended in Selfoss. My home for the night is Hostelling International's Hostel Selfoss, where once again I was able to get a single room. Interestingly enough, there isn't much difference between the hostels I've staying in here and the guesthouses - all have shared bathrooms.

Tomorrow? My targets are Geysir and Gullfoss.