Day Three: A Walk From Hell
Woke early, had coffee, read Bible. Then went for a run (my first mistake of the day).
Grabbed a packed lunch (well, a bag with bread, cheese, a knife, tomatoes and some biscuits). Drove to ferry terminal. We were off to see the world’s largest puffin colony, and I was excited. This was why I had come to Iceland. The tourist shops were filled with photographs of the cheery little birds with their colourful beaks, and plastic models, and fridge magnets. Now I was going to see thousands of them. It was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime event.
On the drive we saw flat plains with mountains in the distance, black rubble, steam rising from the ground, colourful houses, blue lupins everywhere and spectacular waterfalls. There were sheep, and horses, but we didn’t see any cows.
At the ferry terminal, all the cars were parked on an area of gravel, but there were no spaces. A line of cars was waiting to board the ferry, but we were going the cheap route and leaving our car at the terminal. (Second mistake of the day.) Husband decided he would ‘start a new line’ and abandoned car between two rows of neatly parked vehicles. We would return to either a new line of cars with ours in the middle, or wheel-clamps. I hoped it wouldn’t be the clamps.
Caught the ferry from Landeyjahafnarv to Heimaey, one of the Vestmannaeyjar islands. (Do hope that spelling is correct, and don’t ask how they’re pronounced!) We saw black sand, and choppy water. Didn’t see a whale (though I am sure they were there). As we drew into port we sailed close to cliffs pock-marked with white, each one the nest of a sea-bird. It was incredibly windy on the boat.
The ferry terminal was slightly confusing, and we weren’t sure where to go, but Husband had the puffin colony marked on Google maps, so we followed the route out of town. (Third mistake of the day.) I knew it would take about an hour—a long but comfortable walk. What I didn’t realise was that the strong wind from the sea would continue, with powerful force, blowing against us the whole way. The cross-winds were immense, blowing me across the road (luckily very few cars) and pushing against me as I struggled up the hill out of town. I thought it would improve as we left the port, but it didn’t. In some places the gusts were even stronger. Every step was a fight. I seriously doubted if I would make it.
About half way, I informed Husband that there was a distinct possibility that I might die of exhaustion. He checked his map, and said there was a much-less-good puffin lookout a bit nearer than the completely excellent one that we had travelled especially to Iceland to see. He didn’t mention that I had forgotten to bring both binoculars and a proper camera with a zoom lens, but he was probably thinking it. I didn’t have the energy to discuss it, and on I plodded, blown off-course with every step. Husband carried all my stuff, and offered frequent rests, but it was still incredibly difficult. I felt real envy as taxis and mini-buses passed us.
We made it to the lookout shelter. There were lots of puffins, but they weren’t very near, and without either binoculars or a camera zoom, we couldn’t see their bright beaks. It was still fun to see them, and after I had recovered, I was glad that I had come.
Each puffin mates for life, and we saw the couples working together. They made their nests in burrows on the cliff edge, it looked like a rabbit warren, with one puffin standing at the entrance and the other flying off for food. We saw flashes of their rounded tummies as they flew past, and their distinctive black and white feathers. But not really their beaks.
After our picnic lunch, Husband (nervously) reminded me that we had booked to go back on the ferry that left in an hour. I made no comment, saving my energy for another walk-from-hell. The wind was no less on the way back, and neither way was it behind us, it simply blew (blew is such a feeble word, it heaved and shoved) across us and around us, pulling at our coats and hats and pushing us when we walked. I staggered back to the ferry, made it in time, and sat, huddled on the deck, every muscle limp. I remembered the car, and decided that if the wheels were clamped, we would leave it, and buy a new one. I was much too tired to negotiate with an Icelandic carpark attendant.
Luckily, the car sat in the middle of a new row of cars. We drove back via Seljalandsfoss waterfalls. I stayed in the car. Husband went to look, and reappeared with a box of donuts (this is why I love the man).
Next we stopped at Hveraldalir geothermal area, and the donuts had revived me sufficiently to leave the car. There was a slightly run-down walkway, and information signs, and a strong smell of sulphur. No one else was there. We couldn’t see where the walkway started, and my legs were too shaky to walk far, so I nipped across the mud. Big mistake. In fact, it was fine, but a short distance further, the innocuous-looking mud was bubbling. A foot in boiling mud was probably not a good idea. (I remembered my daughter had explicitly warned me about things like this, I should have listened.)
All very interesting. We saw steam vents, and boiling mud, fumaroles and pools of boiling water. The sulphur/rotting eggs smell was overwhelming. But a very cool place to visit, and it was free. I stayed on the walkway on the way back to the car.
Dinner at the lamb burger place again, too tired to be creative. Went to bed exhausted.
Thanks for reading. I’ll tell you about our whale-watching trip in a later blog.
Hope you don’t make any big mistakes this week. Take care.
Love, Anne x
The verse I tried to learn while in Iceland was 2 Chronicles 7:14.
How much have you managed to remember? Read it again to refresh your memory:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
וְיִכָּנְעוּ עַמִּי אֲשֶׁר נִֽקְרָא־שְׁמִי עֲלֵיהֶם וְיִֽתְפַּֽלְלוּ וִֽיבַקְשׁוּ פָנַי וְיָשֻׁבוּ מִדַּרְכֵיהֶם הָרָעִים וַאֲנִי אֶשְׁמַע
מִן־הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶסְלַח לְחַטָּאתָם וְאֶרְפָּא אֶת־אַרְצָֽם׃
A must read for those who visit Iceland..