Well, Day 5 began with some most interesting breakfast conversation. No, not about the wondrous sights seen, the sights yet to come or the many fantastic experiences so far covered, oh no. This topic was much more important and closer to home – all about the delicious merits of thermal underwear! This was indeed confirmation of the demographic with whom I was travelling! “Oh yes, always best to wash them before first use” was an earlier heard comment on this topic too! I am, of course, taking notes for future reference!
After a fine and hearty breakfast (with a very fine bread selection indeed), and after discussion with Jon Ragnar and myself about our itinerary options today, it was decided to take the West Coast route as planned on the schedule. We had hoped to maybe try to include a visit to Thingvellir National park (which had not been possible on Day 3) but on checking the road conditions on the web, the roads were coloured purple and white, the former indicating that snow ploughs were in action and the latter indicating that the snow covered roads had yet to be cleared. Thus, anticipating tricky driving as well as impossible walking conditions in Thingvellir NP (amongst the fissures), JR and myself were happy to go west. Good decision; we had a wonderful day, a great contrast in sceneries to the previous days. Leaving Reykjavik, we headed to Mossfellsbaer and to Hvalfjordur, Whale Fiord. The majestic and very grand (and very big scale) glaciated mountains were awesome to view. Hvalfjordur is a huge sea loch, ice carved by a massive glacier. All around the fiord other smaller tributary U-shaped valleys hung above the main fiord. The roads were totally clear of snow but the mountains were lightly clad in it, emphasising the rock structures of impressive basalt layering as well as filling the deep water sculpted gullies and ravines; Tolkeinesque indeed! Stops were made to “ooh and ah” and to take photographs galore (yes including some beautiful Icelandic horses). Explanations of the many forces at work to form this amazing landscape were given as well as discussion of its use for an aluminium smelter and a whaling station (both equally controversial). This fiord also played a very important role in the Second World War as it offered anchorage to British and American warships. Goose neck meanders were the seen (all geographers like a fine goose neck meander!) before arriving at a welcome comfort stop in Reykholt. Here, in the museum (with public toilets the like of which had never been seen by anyone before – they were immaculate) there was also a chance for a little light gift shopping (but, although tempted, one Trefoil Guild lady resisted the temptation to purchase a handbag at £170! However maybe it wasn’t so much the cost that put her off, more the fact that it was made from chicken skin!).
Time for lunch; we drove to Hraunfoss (seeping water from between the layers of lavas) and Barnafoss. Again, silence commenced as fullest concentration was made to do justice to, yet again, a very acceptable set of sarnies, biscuits, apple and drink. Then it was time to stroll, to view the waterfalls and to ramble over a wonderful lava field with impressive ropey lava formations and domed “explosion” craters on its surface. For a few “maximum intrepids”, we took an additional walk to above the gorge to maximise on the terrific photo opportunities all around. This outing was much enjoyed by everyone.
Then it was to Deildartunga Hot Springs (the largest in the country) to see the earth’s energy in bubbling abundance. But viewing all this bubbling hot water had a down side – it made everyone think of boiling kettles and the one thing that would now be very much liked … a cuppa! So, off to Borganes, a quick tour around and then to the Bakari for a hot drink and a “fUncy piece” (i.e. a fine piece of cake as it is referred to in NE Scotland); some Trefoil Guild members, however, thought I kept saying that I was after a fancy piece … but that’s a quite different matter! But if everyone thought that the day was already brimful with wonderful scenes (it was a magnificent day … and we had the entire area, all day, almost to ourselves) there was one final “hit” still to be enjoyed (eagerly anticipated by at least one member of the group… myself!). Soon we were to enter the 6kms long Hvalfjordur Tunnel; I do like tunnels and this is a fine one indeed! Soon the Reykjavik skyline was coming in to view with the HallgrimskirkjaBellTower prominent (a destination for tomorrow morning). All eyes were peeled at all the cars as everyone sought to find their best entry for the “Number Plate Competition” (something else for you to ask you friend/relative about!); being rush hour on a Friday evening, many fine examples, I hope, were spotted. Exhausted? I’ll say. Exhilarated, absolutely! What another great day out and about in fabulous Iceland. Many are saying they have to come back; many are asking when is the best time; my answer?, “Any minute, of any day, of any week, of any month, in any year”. Every second Iceland has something magical and entrancing to offer; being amongst its nature is uplifting, always.