Wheels, Wind and a Whiteout

I rode out of Hafnarfjörður very slowly.

that's her

It had little to do with the load I was carrying or the spike-tyres I had still on. 

I had half a day to enjoy the sunshine, passed a frozen lake with frozen waves,

All frozen

and a boiling stream.

Boiling hot

It’s weird having something hot, so close and being cold yourself. You either freeze or burn.

I turned left. Along the south coast. Against the WIND.

I didn’t have any other options, being on the far west of Iceland, I could only go east. So with a pace of about 5km/hour I struggled slowly along the track. It seemed endless. And finding some shelter to camp wasn’t easy in this barren land. I felt very fortunate not to be in a hurry as I figured I have about 800km ahead before I turn again… 

I found a little spot along another frozen lake where the flapping of my tent kept me up most of the night.

I will have to do better next time.

But then farmer Snorri (56) came along and invited me over for a coffee.

IMG_4413

Not such a bad spot after all.

SNorri's dog

Good to be out of the wind for a little while. After another cup, a life story and some cookies it was time to face the wind and move along.

One good thing is that every small village has a swimming pool. So there’s often the option to jump in the hot tub and warm up before heading out to try and find a place to camp.

tent, little shelter

But there aren’t always towns.

And there isn’t always shelter.

I have used the couch surfing website less than a handful of times since I joined 8 years ago. I find it to difficult to tell when I’m going to be where.

But I was lucky, Johanna found me along the road struggling against the wind with a knee that was about to give up.

She allowed me to recuperate at her family home for a couple of days.

Johanna's family

And gave me a real good knee compression bandage that will stop me falling apart.

They live not far from one of Icelands most famous icons,

Geysir

The one every other spouting hot spring has been named after, Geysir. Although in the picture you see Strokkur. Geysir is not active at the moment.

Johanna had some friends to drop off at the airport so I decided to come for a drive.

I should not have left my tripod behind. For this night I saw the most spectacular Aurora since my arrival in Iceland!

Awesome Aurora

It was multicolored and completely psychedelic. So the trip that would normally take about 50min took us over two hours because we had to stop and gawk at the sky all the time.

Here is a photograph that Örvar, Simon’s close friend and amazing photographer, took this very evening.

Unbelievable Magic!

 …I KNOW!!! Unbelievable spectacular right…?

(make sure to check out Örvar’s website

A week earlier Örvar, his wife Mai, and Simon had taken me along on a small expedition to some of Iceland’s ice caves.

Simon and Örvar

Both Simon and Örvar grew up roaming the mountains and wilderness of Iceland. They’re also both members of the Search & Rescue team.

I’m glad some one knew what we were doing.

no clue IMG_4279

 Those caves are real pretty.

Ice Caves

I hadn’t yet fully realised how lucky I’ve been with the weather.

After changing my tyres back around (no need for spikes on bitumen) it was a little easier peddling against the wind.

Beautiful day

For about two days.

there

On a cold sunny afternoon I stopped at a community centre, it was closed so I couldn’t buy a coffee.

But a big choir from Reykjavik had their annual practise weekend here. So they gave me some coffee that I enjoyed while listening to their choir practice.

farm

Back on the road I spotted one of those cute little churches.

the cute churchAs I stared at my map flapping in the wind two sisters pulled over. After a few questions and them deciding that I probably wasn’t some dangerous cycle-maniac they invited me to stay at the family farm.

It’s interesting to see how many conversations out here I spent at least 10 minutes trying to convince people that yes, I might be crazy…. But no, I’m not stupid (Well, I like to think so )

Ram

Their family has been here for many generations and now two sisters and two brothers still live on the property.

I enjoyed a wonderful meal with sisters Gerða and Tobba. They made sure I had enough:” Have a bit more… have a bit more… have a bit more… ah you might as well eat it all

Dinner time

Small funny fact, I’ve noticed a few times now that potato’s aren’t skinned before, but after boiling. I had not seen that before.

On the farm in Stórinúpur they have horses, sheep and cows.

No hands are needed milking as it’s all robots these days.

milking

There’s cute little kittens with a very protective dog.

dogs and kittens

This is Tobba.

Gerda

Her son studies in Reykjavik so I was allowed to sleep in his bedroom.

Not to have headwinds all the time I zigged-zagged a little bit.

Only one stretch before I could turn around this mountain, cross a river, and head back towards the coast. 

Burfell in the distance

Behind the mountain I had to walk with my bike, that’s how strongly the wind wanted to push me over.

that way

It didn’t succeed, although not long after I was flat on my ass anyway. Not the wind though! 

When I finally turned around the back of that mountain I was happy to have, at least for now,  gale force wind from behind.

So I flew down the road that turned a little icy, just if I wondered if it was such a smart move to switch the tyres I felt my bike slide from underneath me and we both slipslided down the road for at least another 50 meters.

“Ouch! That hurt.”

I thought as I was lying on my back going over my body parts to see if they’re all still there.

Nothing damaged except my pride.

Lucky I never had such a fall on tarmac… won’t be much sliding then.

I picked up and, very carefully, continued along my way.

carefully

At a scenic spot a huge 4WD pulled up to check if all was ok.

Burfell

After reassuring I was fine he was on his merry way.

20 minutes later I saw him standing on the side of the road. So I pulled up to check if he was ok.

bike and big car

A flat on his trailer, my spare tyre wouldn’t fit so he decided to leave it behind.

This place, along a little stream, was perfect for camping were it not for the wind.

When I mentioned this he told me I could sleep in the trailer.Yes, all ok!

But he warned me not to close the door as they’re impossible to open from the inside and the thing is airtight.

Very cosy little shelter indeed.

Little home

in my cosy shelterWeeks ago a gentleman at the airport told me he knew a Dutch lady who lives here. Iceland is a very small place and when I got close to the town I asked a girl on a horse if she happen to know this lady.

It was her mum.

For the past 30 years Marieke has lived in Iceland. It all started with a love for horses.

Now there’s over 30 horses and her daughter, Hakla, showed me around the place.

Icelandic people really like their horses, not just in the paddock. Also on their plate. I tried Icelandic-horse-steak and can tell you it’s delicious!

sorry guys

It happened to be bolludagur, or ‘bun-day’.

Marieke's buns

Bolladagur is a Lenten festival, a tradition that came to Iceland in the 19th century with Danish and Norwegian bakers.  Apparently about 4million are sold this day. Pretty impressive for only 320.000 people!

And this one day I happened to be here. Luck or what??

When I pitched my tent behind the hay bales that evening it looked like this.

camping by the hay

But the whole world was snow-white when I woke up the next morning.winter wonderland

Just a day later I stumbled across another Icelandic celebration.

Anton and Sandra live with their young son in the small town of Hvolsvöllur. That happens to be smack bang on my route. They’re also Simon’s brother, and sister-in-law. And gave me a warm shower, comfortable bed and a place to dry my stuff.

Then invited me to enjoy an explosion-day dinner with the family! 

I was told it was Sprengidagur, translated “Bursting day, or Explosion-day”.

The motto is to eat stew untill you burst. I really like that concept, and gave it a good try.

lets explode together! Every Icelander will be eating salted lamb or mutton and pea stew on this day. Bad day for sheep, good day for me.

There was some bad weather coming my way,

dark sky

so I planned to stay put in a safe place for a few nights.

Someone mentioned this old pool, build into the site of eyjafjallajokull (I’ve been practising to pronounce that for weeks)

It’s the vulcano that caused havoc in air traffic when it exploded in 2010, spewing ash into the atmosphere.

pool

The pool is build in 1923 and hot water comes from a natural spring and keeps it a very pleasant temperature.  

There’s  a clear stream coming from the mountains so there was enough water to leisurely survive for a while.

Filling my bottle

The old changing rooms made for a great little shelter.

home sweet home

So I swam,

drank coffee,

changed my tyres back (I didn’t want to slide on my ass again)

And made a cooking show

….

Thats right.

Me.

The one that doesn’t cook.

Here it is.

 

Yay!

I wasn’t at all worried, but I was wondering how I would get back out to the road.

That’s when 4 handsome young men showed up.

getting out

These Slovakian guys helped me across the dodgiest bits and shared their tea & cookies with me! 

thee & cookies

Back on the road it looked like it was going to be a glorious day.

waterfall

Sunshine and not much wind.

snowgrader

But it didn’t take long for the dark clouds to roll back in and the wind to pick up.

dark clouds rolling in

A storm warning was in place.

When the wind picks up and snow is flying around, you don’t see much.whiteout

So I decided to play it safe. The idea was to find a farm and ask if they need an extra hand for a few days while the weather passes. 

Instead I ended up at a pretty flash hotel.

Pretty flash!

With my own room, wifi, 3 meals a day and that all in exchange for just a few hours of my time!

Great!

There’s worse places to be….

Like out there, where one unlucky guy had his tent blown to smithereens.

mynd/Arnar

mynd/Arnar

30 Search & Rescue-guys had to go and save him!

So I’ll just wait it out a few more days. 🙂

******************************************************************************************************************

The 14th of March 2001 I set off for the adventure of a lifetime…

 

 

(well, actually, it was a holiday to Ireland)

Now, 13 years later (!!!) I have no plans yet to return from my holiday any time soon 🙂

Thanks for joining me!

******************************************************************************************************************

28 thoughts on “Wheels, Wind and a Whiteout

  1. Schitterend daar! (en weinig toeristen..) Je valt nog steeds overal met je neus in de boter, geweldig.
    En prachtige foto’s weer (en ook die van Örvar, trouwens!)
    We hebben wel weer contact, liefs, pap.

  2. Hey, this is Juro (one of the 4 handsome guys – probably the most handsome one :D), thanks for mentioning us 🙂 It was great experience meeting you. Just a little small correction, we are Slovaks, all of us. Sorry if we were’t clear about it 🙂 Good luck.

  3. funny cooking fact:
    My mum also peels the potatoes after boiling them – keeps their nutritional qualities, as most of those are just under the skin!
    It’s just more convenient to peel them beforehand, but better for you to do it after boiling them.
    haha. Some acurate austrian wisdom for you, my dear 😉
    Loved watching you eat in fast forward, by the way!!
    Will be in Derry next week and drink a pint thinking of you!
    kisses

  4. LOVE these! Once-upon-a-time I would have wanted to do what you are doing – now I am content – no, I am thrilled, to be able to follow along with you from home. Keep going with your delightful spirit!

  5. Looooved your cooking show, brilliant. You’re doing better than us. It’s so wet here in Israel that we gave up camping and went to a fancy spa hotel instead. Loudest place I’ve ever stayed in my life. Keep pedalling.

  6. Great photos once again Miriam. Quite the opposite from the Australian outback. Glad to hear that you are still safe and well (just a little bruised maybe)

  7. Love your blog. I can’t imagine trying to pedal through snow. How much weight do you move on the road? Steel frame? I am impressed!!

  8. Your best blog yet Mirjam. I’m so jealous. I’ve always wanted to see the northern lights. You are so fortunate to come in contact with so many kind hearted people on your travels. It must make the experience so much richer.

  9. Hi Miriam, the one place in the world I’ve always wanted to go to is Iceland. After reading your blog I still definitely want to get there one day.

  10. Really enjoyed this. Sounds like it was challenging, but well worth it. … and all the welcoming people you met along the way. Fabulous. The photos of the northern lights are some of the best I’ve seen. Surreal. So did you ride the horses? It wasn’t clear from the photos if that was you.

  11. your posts are filled with joy and wonder, your humor keeps your spirits up and your openness allows things like the four slovakian boys to show up just at the right time. your travels bring me back to my european tramping days 30 years ago. your cooking video may earn you a spot on National Geo someday. keep on trucking….

  12. I enjoy reading about your travels and chance meetings with helpful locals. One of the best things you did some time back was to write your web address on a wall. It was featured in a Mark Beaumont video. I paused the video to look it up and I’m glad I did. I’m back in the saddle myself while following a growing list of riders who are living the dream. Keep those pedals turning lady. Cheers.

  13. Liked the scenery and stories of the people in your travels to Iceland. I loved the swimming spot and camping place you found by the eyjafjaffajokull volcano. You met me in Tasmania at Great Lake. Thanks M, for all the enthusiasm! Keep safe..Graeme.

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