Iceland, Ireland & the Lowlands…

Seven-and-a-half years ago a backpacker-tour came through a hostel in Derry, Northern Ireland.

This is not a very unusual occurrence.

Thing is Gerry, Isabel and Shirley were on this very tour. Three lovely ladies from Katanning, Australia.

And I happened to work at that backpackers hostel.

It’s now 4 years since I cycled into their town and they looked after me like a long lost (grand) daughter.

Grannies 03-'10

Grannies March 2010

It was time for them to come to Europe again.

And the Netherlands at that.Gerry & Shirley

Sadly granny Isabel couldn’t make it.

Of course meeting my brand new nephew was a good incentive to head over that way too.Jaco

It’s only been four months since I last visited. But now I got to see the Netherlands from a slightly different perspective.

I realised I haven’t been there in spring/summer for many years. With a lot of festivals and celebrations it’s not a bad place to visit…

Flying back to Iceland I ran into the Dutch national soccer team heading for Brasil.

Nederlands Elftal

It must’ve helped them as they seem to be doing alright.

It was a happy occasion when I landed back in Iceland to be reunited with my bicycle and go for a new adventure.IMG_0700

Due to a small change of plans I had to leave Borgarfiordur Eystri and was headed back for the airport. Wich happened to be at the exact opposite side of the country.

But first we did a sheep run.

When the lambs are born and the weather gets warmer all the sheep get taken up and over the hills where they will roam free all summer.

In September they will be mustered again and either sold for meat or head back to the shed for another winter.

It’s a huge difference with four months ago when I first arrived. Instead of camping under the Northern lights I now have the midnight-sun accompanying me. It’s great to be able to ride at any time in the day or night! The light is beautiful and soft.Midnight Sun

Top Spot!Not too keen on hurrying down the highway I decided to just focus on the western fjords.Crepuscular Horses

With two weeks left I figured they’d be best spent checking out this part of Iceland.Westfjords View

Where the distances are just a little larger, the hills are just a little higher and the wind  just a little stronger…my way

Maybe, after all those weeks on the farm I’d ‘forgotten’ about the brutal headwinds, but I was reminded very quickly as I ploughed against it heading North.

GoingOuch.view

Lucky some one put a nice seat on the site of the road so I could have a comfortable break.Thanks for the chair!

But it didn’t take long or I turned a bend and this torturous wind was helping me along. That’s the great thing about cycling the fjords!Great day!

It doesn’t matter where the wind comes from, at some stage during the day it will be tailwinds!westfiordsWhoop Whoop Tailwinds!

I even had some very rare moments of no wind.No Wind!

The distances are longer but it doesn’t look it on a map. I was 18km from the next town as the crow flies. But it was still 113km along the road…scare crow

To have sunny warm weather in this corner of the world is rare, so I fully enjoyed every minute of the few days of sunshine.It's a hard life

Don’t let the summer weather fool you into thinking it’s a good idea to go for a swim at the end of the day.But it isn't

Although it was still better than the waterfall I tried earlier. Nice roads

Sometimes you’re lucky. I was looking for a wind-free place to pitch my tent one evening and noticed a little shed. upon further inspection it turned out to be a small indoor hot spring!

[vimeo 99755276]

With a cool clear river running on the other side this was another top camping spot!perfect water

There’s very few towns or villages along this road, sometimes you find an abandoned ‘castle’,Abandoned building

or a smelly shed where fish is drying,smelly shedor a place that makes you think:”Wow! Imagine living there!what a place

Mostly it’s a glorious quiet road,road

with here and there some sheep.chilling on the beach

Rolling into the small town of Isafjordur I never made it to a coffee shop or supermarket, instead I got chatting to Harald Paul and his wife Silvia.

Gypsy Life

They have been living on their aptly named boat “Gypsy Life” for 11 years now!

They’re on their way to Greenland and Canada, but arrived too late to cross last year. So they have waited 11 months to be able to set sail for the West.

I spent the night on their boat, an unusual experience as I’m one who likes solid ground under her feet. bike on boatI had a great evening with these two adventurers. Many wonderful anecdotes, you find some of them on their blog.

He has written a couple of books and they even have a movie about the time they got stuck in the ice for months in the north of Canada living of fishing and hunting.

And his Bike

Harald takes his motorbike around with him and takes off whenever he gets the chance. So he gets to ride off-road where no one has gone before.

By now the weather has turned slightly less sunny, but with a tailwind and no rain there is nothing to complain about.a little cloudy

“It’s all flat once your over the next hill!” Harald enthusiastically told me as I pedalled away.

Ha! If you travel over water maybe 😉Malbik endar

The good thing is, I really really like hills. Nice roadThe bad thing is…

Oh, there is no bad thing! 🙂Up!

pink jacketlove this place

Now the season has changed I’ve ran into some more people cycling around. The first person I saw was a girl who came flying down the hill towards me. But she didn’t feel like breaking. I understand…

The next one was another girl by herself, Julia from France. And a couple from the States.

On top of the last big hill I met Ian from England,

we had a coffee and a chat and he mentioned another hot spring near the ferry departure point. It was another one of those great little secrets that are very well appreciated after a long and slightly cold downhill.

On the other side I found a place to pitch my tent and set off on my last day riding for a while.

The lovely cheese my grandma gave me was a real treat!

Cheese my grandma gave meVolcanic mad moss surrounded the roads I rode along.

Odd Moss

And it took me to a sudden end of this part of the journey as I had to hurry back for a flight.

Now -not planned and a little surprising- I find myself back in that very same hostel in Derry. Where I first met the grannies all those years ago!

Iceland & Ireland, only one letter, but a world of difference.

There’s one small thing I missed in Iceland…   Pubs!

Sure there’s a few in Reykjavik, but compared to the amount of churches you see scattered around the country the amount of pubs is severely lacking.

So I better go enjoy a guinness now 😉Slainte!

Sláinte!

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23 thoughts on “Iceland, Ireland & the Lowlands…

  1. Wow unbelievable that you drive there with a bicycle.
    But the pictures are amazing – I was in Iceland until a few weeks ago and seeing this landscape makes me missing this country soooo much again.

  2. Iceland was never on my travel radar — but you have put it there, right near the top of my list! Stunning. (and it’s so much fun ‘traveling’ with you. As always, thanks for the journey!

  3. What… gone to Ireland??? I thought we would meet at Braedslan later this month in Borgarfjordur! But your pictures are great and so is your story – good luck Miriam on whatever you´re up to. Greetings from Hike&Bike in Myvatn, north Iceland.

  4. Ja ja, het zijn weer geweldige foto’s. Mooi hoor, daarginds. En dan nu weer even een soort van ‘back home’. Geniet er van!

  5. Hoi Mirjam,
    Volgende week hoop ik ook op IJsland te zitten en wanneer ik naar jou foto’s kijk heb ik er erg veel zin in.
    Ik zal je mijn belevenissen laten weten. Ik ga ook nog naar de de Faröer- en Orkny-eilanden en naar Schotland. Jammer genoeg ga ik niet zo lang, maar ik ga er van genieten.
    Goede reis verder en groeten van Heleen.

  6. Hi hi there, kept reading your travels writings since I met you on that road to Isafjördur (I’m the girl from France, and my name is actually Jane.. 😀 But I totally forgive you for forgetting my name =) ), I hope we’ll meet again on another road one day.
    Keep living the life, you’re inspiring !

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