Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tuesday, September 18

Today we are anchored off of Grundarfjordur on the north side of the Snaefellsnes (Snow Mountain Peninsula) Peninsula. This peninsula is 90km long, runs from East to West and forms the north side of the huge bay that has Reykjavik at its Southeast corner. As the sun comes up the port looks very clean and has an alpine look to it with fairly tall mountains right behind it. The very tops of these peaks are covered with a fresh dusting of snow.

We were not able to get a rent car for here so we are taking the very expensive "Highlights of Snaefellsnes" tour offered by the ship. Our tour departs at 10AM and we take a tender ashore around 9:30AM.
We depart on time and drive west to a secondary, unpaved road, where the bus cuts south up and over the high ridge running down the middle of the peninsula and back down to the sea on the South side of the peninsula at a village called Budir. There are stunning views of the coast, water falls and the Snaefelljokull Glacier as we travel along the coast and up, over the pass.

It is now only 10:30AM. We stop for a look at an old church

and for a walk along an unusual "white" sand beach with interesting lava formations out into the water, which is COLD!

This walk leads to a local hotel where lunch is planned. It is now 11:15AM and time for lunch?!

This is way too early and another example of why we do not like tours. We do not like being on somebody else’s schedule, but we go with the flow. Having no choice in the matter and being the last ones to get to the hotel we enter the dining room where it is much too hot. We promptly back out and tell the hostess we will pass on lunch. She insists on setting us up in the lobby where we are served a seafood bisque that is outstanding! We learn that they simmer the stock for two days and use local lobster in it. The only thing missing would be a shot of sherry, but the chef, who came out and talked to us for awhile said he did use rum.! The soup is served along with a very nice chewy bread with a large crumb and crisp crust. The fixed menu includes a fish, potato and cream sauce dish and the kitchen is having trouble serving the 60 people on our bus. We pass on the fish though others say it is very good. There was an earlier 8:30AM tour with two buses that arrives as our group is still eating. There is a lot of confusion and some really grumpy people on the earlier tour. There is a shortage of restrooms around the island so the hotel finally opens up some guest rooms to relieve the tension from the potty lines caused by 60 people who haven’t seen a restroom in 2 hours and the 60 people just finishing eating and won’t see one for another 2 hours! The hotel has three single restrooms serving the public area! We are supposed to leave the hotel at 12:15PM and do not get away until nearly 1:15PM.

We make another stop just a few miles west for a walk starting at the stone depiction/memorial of Bardur Snaefellsas, protector of Snaefellsas.
We walk along some cliff tops with beautiful views of the sea and the sweep of the coastline all the way down to Reykjavik.

This walk ends at the picturesque harbor village of Arnarstapi. There are still a few birds along the cliff, but most have moved on for the winter. The water is beautifully clear. We can see the sandy bottom in the harbor from the cliff!!

We make a final stop at an area overlooking a cove where local fishermen kept their boats in times past. There are large pieces of metal strewn about the beach. These are the remains of a British trawler blown in here in 1947 with some loss of life. The tour was worth the bus ride just to see the beautiful scenery and the walks are very nice.  The first two are maybe ½ mile each, but very easy walking. The third is a steep climb down to the beach and back up, but there is a nice level path to a view point so you can see without doing the climb. As we leave, the guide points out the rugged lave flow formations that earlier people said were the heads of the trolls.
Leaving this area, we make the hour’s drive back to Grundarfjordur where we arrive at 4PM. We are the last bus back and the little port area is virtually deserted.
 We look in a little shop for a local memory but the one thing that catches our eye, small Icelandic Runes on a cord, are made in China! No thanks!

We return to the ship
for a quiet evening of a room service dinner of two great steaks, mashed potatoes and steamed veggies plus chocolate pots to finish...oh and a nice bottle of red which leads to an early bed time. It is especially early since we turn the clocks back another hour tonight.

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