Day 29: Oslo – where the adventure ends

Oh so sad….our last day as we fly out of Oslo this afternoon starting our epic trek home (three flights in total including hours in between at various airports).

After another carb-fuelled breakfast we went on our way and first stopped at the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture. There were two exhibitions, including work by Arne and Carlos, who do very quirky knitwear and fashion. I had never heard of them before but now I’m a fan – I really want one of those space invaders jumpers!

We also visited the National Museum, a bit damp as we got caught in quite heavy rain (our first since we arrived here luckily). The place was packed due to said weather but some great work – the Munch room was predictably the most popular, with another version of The Scream on display.

The storm clouds gather!

That was all we really had time for before dashing back to collect our bags – now for the marathon journey, not looking forward to this. Couldn’t we just move Australia a bit closer – even just temporarily??

See you Scandinavia!

A&C

Day 28: Oslo

Back to Oslo for a day of exploring. As we went in search of some breakfast, we encountered hordes of Star Trek, Manga and Science Fiction garbed people – from what we gathered was some sort of geek convention. Hey, we are geeks too so full respect for their dedication. Some attendees went to great lengths to look the part!

We found some breakfast in a very old school style building – sort of like the Strand Arcade – and were certainly amused to see this sculpture although I did decline a holiday snap next to this most tasteful artwork.

I did have a Norwegian favorite at the cafe – brown cheese on a fruit roll –  I’ll try not to make any other comment than to say it tastes much better than it sounds.

Next we walked to the Edvard Munch Museum where there were multiple layers of security – kind of Get Smart Style. We understood this after we read that The Scream was stolen not once, but twice, in addition to another masterpiece (all were recovered thankfully).

There was a great selection of work here, and the recently restored ‘Puberty’. Below are some images of our favorites. For me, Munch has an amazing way of portraying the human condition, and these paintings certainly had an effect on me.

The rest of the day we spent wandering about Grünerløkka, full of hip cafes, bars and boutiques. It started to pour with rain and we hastily retreated into the cafe nearest to us and were rewarded with a yum lunch, a far cry from our potato chips on a roll dinner last night as we arrived way too late for any decent food places to be open.

I love the retro fit-out of this place

Tomorrow is our last day in Oslo before flying home – see you soon!

A&C

 

Day 27: Goodbye Iceland

Feeling a little sad as we say goodbye to Iceland. Didn’t have the best nights sleep as there were some serious party types shouting until very late in the wee hours so we had only a few hours to wander the city and pick up a few things.

I did buy a nice pair of boots that I had been obsessing over since I spotted them a few weeks ago but did not get at the time :-)

Unfortunately only one image from today and it’s a mystery photo – can you guess what this may be? (it’s not as easy as you may think).

A&C

Day 26: The road back to Reykjavík

Today it was goodbye to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

We entered Snæfellsjökull National Park and its narrow winding road up to Sönghellir (“Singing cave”), known for its echoes. It provided shelter for travellers and contains a lot of graffiti dating back centuries! We drove as far as we could up the mountain but the road was snowed in so we enjoyed the view and negotiated the grey hair inducing road back down.

Ye Olde Graffiti

This was one blind hill…

More amazing colours in the landscape

Next was a stop at Budir with its lovely old church and we took a stroll down down near the beach – this time with golden coloured sand.

Look at the colour of this lichen on the grey volcanic rock!

After we checked into our accommodation at Reykjavík we took the ‘must do’ trip out to the Blue Lagoon thermal baths. A very well run operation and very popular. Enjoyed the pummelling waterfall which provided a good shoulder massage and also floated about with our faces caked in silica mud (apparantly very good for the skin).

A&C

Day 25: Snæfellsjökull National Park

A whole day to explore the Snæfellsjökull National Park - LOTS of walkling done!

Started off the day with the recommended walk from Hellnar to Arnastapi. This walk weaved around the cliffs and coastline and around each bend was another impressive vista. Tons of birdlife as well – including one variety who decided to swoop on our heads Alfred Hitchcock style as we waved our camera tripod around in defence!

We stumbled across this very cool abandoned house as well.

We drove around to Djúpalón and Dritvík - impressive black sand beaches and at Djúpalón there was rusted shipwreck remains strewn all over the beach from an English trawler wrecked in 1948.

Next was Öndverðarnes where we drove out to a lighthouse and jagged cliffs filled with more birds. Hoped to spot some puffins but no luck to be had!

Lastly was the scoria crater Saxhóll where we hauled ourselves to the top for the view before stumbling back for dinner!

Great light on the Glacier at the end of the day

A&C

Day 24: Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Today was another long travelling day to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. On our way we passed through a very small town called Blönduós and had to stop to take a pic of this church. We are discovering that Iceland is the country of unusual and cool church designs – as you will also see later in this post.

Our first main stop was a picturesque little maritime town called Stykkishólmur which has the aforementioned cool church – Stykkishólmskirkja. One odd thing we noted was that the speed limit in town is 35km/h – kind of an odd speed to keep to.

A view of the mountains and their colours as we left Stykkishholmur

On a whim we turned down a tourist road early in the evening before we reached our accommodation. We dissevered Rauðfeldur Canyon -  a steep and narrow canyon that cleaves the cliff wall. We climbed into the initial part but were stopped by large pieces of ice. The light inside had am eerie cinematic quality – as seen in the pics we took.

A&C

Day 23: Mývatn to North Western Iceland

Today we checked out a few things that we ran out of time to see yesterday. First off we drove back to the Krafla area and onto Stora-Viti. This is a big brown dirt crater that is filled with a stunning blue water. You often see images of this in tourist brochures. We walked around the rim and also stopped off to take some images of the space like pods that dot the landscape. These are part of the geothermal energy system.

Iceland or a Dr Who set?

Next was Höfði, an area with lots of flora and bird life, leading down to the water where lava formations can be seen.

Last for Mývatn was the pseudocraters at Skútustaðagígar. These were caused by molten lava reaching wetland areas causing explosions. There was quite a cluster of them here.

The rest of the day was pretty much transit, a fly through visit of Akureyri as we were running behind to get to the evenings accommodation.

We also stopped by another pretty spectacular waterfall – Goðafoss – so named when Christianity became the official religion of Iceland and statues of the Norse gods were thrown into the waterfall by the lawspeaker Þorgeir.

A&C

Day 22: Mývatn

The road to Myvatn

Today was a big day with lots of stuff to explore. We started off at Krafla, which is an active volcano region (yes,we live for danger).

The mountain is full of steam vents, bubbling mud pools and old lava chunks. You can look down from the top and see the extensive black lava fields from when Krafla erupted. It really feels like being on the moon walking around here.

Iceland or the moon?

Lava fields

Amazing colour and texture of lava

On the way back we went to the Krafla Power Station. They had a small visitor centre which was actually very interesting and explained how the station worked. Icelanders generate 99% of their electricity using renewable resources (something we can learn from).

Next was Hverir – an area filled with angry steam vents, fumaroles and bubbling mud pools (sounds like Australian politicians!). A gust of that lovely sulphurous steam leaves you gagging but a really fascinating area that leaves you thinking about what is happening in the earth underneath our feet!

We then drove to Hverfell – a massive crater that is 2,500 years old resulting from an eruption. Lots of scrambling up the loose gravel trail to the top. It is hard to show the scale in photos but this would have been one mighty big explosion.

Our last stop before dinner was an area called Dimmuborgir (translates to ‘The Dark Castles’). This is an extensive lava field full of lava pillars and crags. We took the ‘difficult trail’ – that is not the nice wide tourist trails but one that involved a small amount of climbing and clambering – and were rewarded with some interesting views. As well we needed to walk off the sizeable hot chocolate we consumed in the very respectable Dimmuborgir Cafe.

Pose done at request of photographer – suggesting something about my big mouth as compared to large hole in rock???

After dinner we headed up to the Myvatn Nature Baths. A gorgeous blue and mineral rich water – and steaming hot indeed! – It is said that the water is good for aching limbs, even arthritis. we spent over an hour just floating about and watching the sun slowly set (although it never really sets here – it’s nearly 24hr daylight).

 A&C

Day 21: Vatnajökull North

We drove through quite the desolate landscape to Vatnajökull National Park. Some parts of the terrain reminded us of Australia in some ways, with ochre hills in the distance and small clumps of wildflowers dotting the landscape.

OK – this part of Iceland is cold! – some spotty patches of rain as well but overall the weather remained fine (albeit overcast). We first stopped at Dettifoss – the national parks most famous spot as evidenced by the tour buses and hordes we encountered. This foss is pretty impressive – although not the highest, we read that 193 cubic metres of water goes over its edge every second. The sheets of water spray that come up engulfed the people on the other side of the fall (we were on the dry side – lucky for us).

We decided to head on to Hljóðaklettar (Echoing Rocks), which are strange and magical basalt rock formations. We took lots of pics here around the walking trail – hardly anyone else around and I have to say, very very cold. Definitely worth the visit and braving the elements for.

We took the rocky F road back to the main road and headed to our accommodation for the next two nights – Vogafjosi Guesthouse. This place is set on a stock farm and the restaurant has large windows looking out onto the cows in their barn and milking shed. Makes for an interesting dining experience especially when you are facing the cows behinds and they decide to empty themselves (and I did order the meatballs as well). Also the hot water here is very sulphurous – the room smells very egg like after taking a hot shower, but all part of the experience!

If anyone says you have a bum like a cow, be concerned.

A&C

Day 21: The Road to East Iceland

Thanks to Craig for fulfilling my blog writing duties while I lay comatose on the bed yesterday!

Today was mostly a day of transit – driving from Hofn to East Iceland. Lots of long stretches of road along the coastline with rocky black sand beaches and towering hills strewn with boulders (hoping they would not tumble down upon us). The landscape has started to evolve and change as well as get quite a bit colder (hello car seat warmer).

Arty rock shot

We had a few road diversions and the happy discovery of another unnamed ‘foss’ that I felt rivalled Svartifoss without all the hordes of tourists.

Another pose-y shot in front of a waterfall – how predictable!

The picture of brooding masculinity

Another picture of Craig taking a picture

We travelled down to Seyðisfjörður , a small town made up of multicoloured wooden houses. Apparently it has a bohemian artistic community with lots of studios where work is displayed and sold – unfortunately we arrived a little late for any retail therapy and wandering around was limited due to the 2 degree temps. We did visit the Skaftfell Cultural Centre where we had a great dinner at the ‘arty bistro bar’. Some very jolly and seemingly very drunk Icelanders who happened to be the owners of said ‘arty bistro bar’ approached us asking us how the food was, lucky for them (and maybe for us) we provided a good review!

The cold cold road to Seyðisfjörður

A&C

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