Sunshine in Snæfellsnes!

Mother Nature really gave us a good apology for the wet windy day we suffered on Flatey yesterday! We woke up to the sun shining, the sky a clear blue, and the temperature soared to a balmy 16 degrees! And good thing, because we’d spent our day disasterously yesterday, which only left us one whole day to explore this stunning peninsula! Snæfellsnes is purported to be Iceland in a nutshell, giving you everything you’d see around the country, in a tiny area (minus those insane mountain roads in the Western Fjords).

Nothing like starting the day with a mini hike up ol’Helgafell, to make 3 wishes! The lore is very specific: 1st you have to stop at the grave of Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir, which stands at the bottom of the trail up the mountain (not super dignified, if you ask me…with clumsy tourists stumbling over/around you). 2nd you have to walk up to the chapel ruins without uttering a word & not looking back (not easy to do when you’re walking uphill on loose razor-sharp shale rocks, and nearly twisting your ankle or falling on your butt every 10 seconds….a few expletives might have added some outlet for frustration. But rules must be followed!). 3rd, you must face East and utter 3 wishes, and never tell them to anyone. I messed up and told Mo one of mine, which was wishing all of my friends/family happiness and prosperity….sorry now that it won’t come true for you all, but at least my more selfish wishes still have a chance to come to fruition! haha. There were some beautiful views!


Next up was something we’ve been excited about since we started planning this trip, and that was a visit to the Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum to try some hákarl (fermented shark meat), a traditional Icelandic dish. The museum itself was used as a stand-in for Greenland in the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, which was kind of cool.


Lonely Planet told us that these sharks are classified as “near threatened”, but the guide at the museum assured us that they don’t actively hunt them anymore, and just use ones that were accidentally caught by fisherman, and which drowned themselves in the fishing nets (the sharks, not the fishermen…). The meat itself is hugely toxic and can kill you if it isn’t properly fermented, which takes about 6 weeks. They slice it off the carcass, keep it in a slightly cold (but not freezing) fridge, and then hang it to dry. Here are the drying racks:


They smell pretty ripe, let me tell you! But how do they taste? I’m glad you asked, because every admission comes with a free sample! Here I am, trying it out:

1st: picking the right chunk…(don’t let my expression fool you, I was excited to try it, but the pieces looked like slimey undercooked chicken)



2nd: savouring the “unique” flavour….and thinking “ok, interesting, but not TOO bad…”


3rd: “oh wait…the ammonia flavour just kicked in….”


4th: “well, I got it down and didn’t barf. I’ll consider that a ‘win’. Glad I tried it, but don’t need to do it again soon, and won’t be serving it at my next dinner party”…(I don’t actually have dinner parties, so don’t feel offended that you’ve never been invited).


I must have made it look pretty bad, because poor Mo didn’t even bother to try it! But she did notice “The Shark Man” in the lobby of the museum, who’d been featured on her favourite show “Departures”, and wrangled him in for a victory photo!


I think it’d be understandable to say that we didn’t leave there with much of an appetite, so we headed to  Svödufoss (a waterfall in the middle of nowhere), and the church Ingjaldshólskirkja, called the “lonely church” because it stands alone on a hill, with nothing around it, except stunning views:


Today had a lot of incredible scenery, and most of the view was dominated by the glacier Snæfellsjökull which was made famous by Jules Verne using it as the setting for his book “Journey to the Centre of to Earth”:


We got some beautiful shots at the Djúpalón beach, which has little black stones (called “black lava pearls”) instead of sand (they look pretty, but are hard to walk on!), and some cool rock formations. One is rumoured to be an elf church, and the other a troll woman. There’s also smatterings of rusted metal everywhere from a shipwreck in the 1940’s, which was really neat:

By this point, I needed to get the putrid taste of Shark out of my mouth, so I convinced Mo to take a road trip to a dairy farm we’d read about….it took us about 1.5hrs to get there, over gravel roads, but it was worth it! They had frozen Skyr (Icelandic yogurt) dipped in white chocolate. It tasted like the lightest, fluffiest, most delicious cheesecake you’ve EVER had. We also got to pet the cows (so cute!), before making our way back to the peninsula for some more exploring.

Next on our route was Rauðfeldsgjá, which is a cave you can hike into, with a stream running down the middle, and tons of birds soaring overhead (the top of the cave is open in the first chamber):

The legend is that Bárður Snæfellsás (a half-man, half-troll) killed his nephew Rauðfeldur by pushing him into the cleft of the gorge, simply because Rauðfeldur had playfully pushed Bárður’s daughter Helga onto an iceberg where she drifted to Greenland, lived happily (and found a lover!). Seemed to me to be a bit of an overly dramatic reaction, but I guess family politics can make one a tad temperamental!

Last up was the cute little town of Arnarstapi, where they had a cute little monument to Jules Verne, and signposts saying how far to some major cities, from “The Centre of the World”:


…and a lovely statue of the tempestuous Bárður, who is memorialized as being helpful to humans who are lost, and the protector of Snæfellsnes (rather than “nephew-murderer”):


We drove around the rest of the peninsula, admiring the views, and amused by the traffic signs that give you a facial expression to express how much they like/dislike your speed:

(Yes we did drive by the same sign at varying speeds to get the pictures….you’re welcome. lol).

And that’s about it for today! Tomorrow is our last day on this self-drive tour, which is bittersweet! We’ve had a great time exploring, but moving each night and living out of a suitcase is starting to lose its novelty!


2 thoughts on “Sunshine in Snæfellsnes!”

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