Thursday, April 5, 2018

Siglufjordur & Hofsos: Day 9

Somtimes I stare at a blank cursor, blinking at me on a white screen.  It can be minutes.  Or hours.  Sometimes I get distracted, click open other things, sift through photos and maps and memories, trying to find what I want to write.

Sometimes mornings are like that.  Eyes open, blinking up at the white ceiling.  Minutes.  Hours. Sifting through similar distractions and memories.  Trying to figure out how to get out of bed.  How to start the day.

Today was one of those days.  We were ahead of schedule, and felt no rush to get out of our cozy little bed in the back of our campervan.  After the past few days of periodic snowstorms and unpredictable road conditions, we weren't sure how safe it was to stray too far off Ring Road 1 (the main road that goes around the entire country in a loop).  We lay in bed, flipping through our guide book, periodically checking for road conditions, and searching for things online. In the meantime, I reached down to the foot of the bed where our kitchen is, and put water to boil for coffee.  Breakfast was a bowl of Skyr (delicious Icelandic yogurt) with granola.

Eventually, we managed to get the bed unmade for the day, changed, showered in the campground facilities, dishes from last night washed, and on the road.  We had decided to check out Akureyri, where we had stopped for the night.  It's the second largest city in Iceland.  We drove to Bakaríið við Brúna, a bakery with very high reviews.  The display cases full of baked goods, some familiar and others mysterious, beckoned us.  We took a number (this was a busy place!) and after some deliberation, decided on a chocolate pastry, a caramel pecan pastry, and a couple of Iceland's traditional pastries, called "kleina".

The kleina were the first ones we tried, and soft, not-quite-donut-like texture was delicious - not too sweet, not too deeply fried.  Doughy and delicious.  "I'm going in to get two more!" I told Jen, and fished around for some Icelandic krona. 

We decided this little bakery experience was all we needed of the "big city" (Population: 18,000), so we took one more look at, determined the roads and weather looked all right for the most part, and made the decision to attempt the drive up to Siglufjordur after all.  This turned out to be a good choice, since the skies were sunny the whole afternoon, and the roads were in excellent condition.

The drive through the snowy fjords was beautiful.  Fjord peaks with thick, white snow were everywhere we looked.  The sea sparkeled a deep navy blue, accented by more white from the white-capping waves on the coast down below.  We had to go through several mountain-passes (fjord passes?) in the form of tunnels that had been bored straight through from one side to the other.  Some were as look as 6km, and were dark and eerie as we drove through, watching the bare rock walls speed by our windows.

The town of Siglufjordur was an adorable, charming fishing village full of brightly-painted homes and buildings.  We found a hiking trail that took us to a viewpoint above the town, and headed up the gently ascending track through the wet snow, jackets open and mittens off. It was a balmy 1 degree Celcius today, the sun was shining, and the views were beyond words.

We're going at a slower pace now, and we're enjoying it.  Campervan life has its charms - stopping wherever we want to cook a meal or make some coffee, having all our belongings with us so we don't need to pre-plan any of our adventures, and being able to pull into a campsite spot at night and just go to sleep right where we are - all of these things are such a unique part of traveling this way.

After our little hike in Siglufjordur, we continued on down the other side of the peninsula, periodically stopping at marked pull-over points, so we could admire the snow capped fjords and the beautiful northern coast.  We both realized at one point that this tip of this fjord was the farthest north in the world either of us had ever been, or would be for a while.


I typically have been writing these posts after dinner, as we sit in the front seat of the campervan, hoping for the Aurora Borealis to appear.  Most nights have been cloudy so far, but tonight we have an exceptionally clear sky, so we've been waiting.  It's past 1am.  We see a long grey smudge in the sky, almost like a cloud.  This is a very faint aurora - barely visible to the naked eye, but my camera captures it with a 25-second exposure and sure enough, it comes out green.  We're still up, hoping it gets stronger, and starts to dance.
pool in Hofsos, in the fjords

The heater is on in the campervan, which helps, but my toes are still cold from going outside every ten inutes to have a better look at the sky.  I think about the hot swimming pool we were in today, in Hofsos.  It's said to be one of the most beautiful pools in Iceland, and it certainly lived up to that claim.  The pool is set almost level with the ground, nestled in the mountains.  There is a traditional swimming pool as well as a "hot pot", and we spent about an hour and a half swimming in the pool, looking out at the snowy fjords, and then sitting in the hot pot to unwind and relax.

This is Iceland.  Slowness.  Patience.  Silence.

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