DAY 21

Hellisandur to Borgarnes

This trip I booked mostly houses and apartments to stay in, with only two hotels and one guesthouse otherwise. I like to travel this way, since you can cook, usually have more than one room, and it's far more relaxing. You also get to live a little bit like a local. Figuring out what items actually are in supermarkets has been one of the challenges. Most of these rented houses are vacation cottages, and most of them have an upstairs (usually accessible with a stair that's more like a ladder) that's filled with beds. The house in Hellisandur had 8 beds upstairs, and two downstairs. Sleeping for 10, and one bathroom. Since the house had absolutely no internet, I tucked myself in a little nook and worked on this site. We left late, since Borgarnes was only 160km away, and it was Sunday. This country closes (at least the rural parts do) on Sundays.

On the way to Borgarnes, we drove the southern road out of West Iceland, passing many of the sights we saw yesterday. We stopped at the beach called Dritvík, which we tried to see yesterday but it was clogged with tour buses. Today, far less tourists and heavy, heavy surf. The sea actually looked angry. Taking photos was a challenge, since sneaker waves would pop up out of nowhere and run water far up the beach. Considering the steep angle into the surf and how unpredictable it was, I spent 5 minutes pointing the camera and getting ready to run at any moment, then got out of there quickly. Strewn across the beach are the rusted fragments of a cargo ship that ran aground in high seas in the 40's. It was ripped to shreds by the waves and the lava rock.

Last stop before cruising to Borgarnes was Rauðfeldar, a very narrow canyon carved into a mountain, which brings us to another story.

Back near the end of the 9th century, Bárður Snæfellsás, a half-man, half-troll, was chilling with his voluptuous and handsome daughters, and generally not bothering anybody. His brother Porkell lived down the street with his two sons, named Rauðfeldar and Sölvi. Porkell didn't raise those boys right, and they were known mostly for loitering and petty vandalism. One day, Rauðfeldar and Sölvi were playing with their cousins by the shore, and Rauðfeldar pushed Bárður's eldest daughter, Helga (NOT the same Helga with the whole church thing. Different Helga.) onto an iceberg, where she proceeded to float away to Greenland. She was unharmed, but Bárður, not known for his even-tempered approach to familial matters, killed Rauðfeldar by pushing him into this so-named canyon, then killed Sölvi by pushing him off a cliff (which is NOT named after him..tough luck, Sölvi) and into the sea. Then Bárður stormed off into the glacier (not over it...into the glacier) and was never heard from again. His daughters remained voluptuous and made it on their own. West Iceland women are tough. Bárður still watches over this area, so don't litter or goof around. I went a bit into the canyon, but it was filled with snow and couldn't go far.

My upstairs apartment
I picked a cubby hole to sleep in and felt like I was 9 again
The trail to Dritvík
The beach is strewn with fragments from a shipwreck that occurred in 1948
Surf pounding the cliffs at Arnarstapi
Arnarstapi harbor
Arnarstapi harbor
Approaching Rauðfeldar canyon
Looking back from the mouth of the canyon
Looking up
Leaving West Iceland