The journey so far:
25 days on the road:
2160 miles by land, about 1000 miles by sea,
Days without any rain 6
Nights camping 20 Nights in hotels 2 Nights at sea 3
Countries visited 7
We stayed two nights in Isafjordur, to have a break and to give Tim’s back a chance to recover- he was getting some really unpleasant back muscle spasm, I suspect from lots of bending over to pitch and strike the tent.
It’s quite an interesting city (yep, over 2500 inhabitants and that’s what they call it).
Many of the houses are of the traditional corrugated iron construction, but the colours they are painted with make all the difference.
I had a wander around and went to the local museum, which is mainly about fishing and the sorts of things the locals used to eat. It was interesting to look at the ‘contentious’ fishing issues from an Icelandic point of view. In the early 1900s they were still using rowing boats to fish, catching cod with long baited lines. They thought of the British fishing boats that came this way as marauders, hoovering up the available fish and chucking back what they didn’t want. Interestingly, at that time in this area, only men who owned land could own a boat, and the rest of the fishermen were subjected to a very strict hierarchy. They showed a film that reenacted a fishing expedition in the bitter cold, which was all very poetical and made me giggle a bit, much to the disapproval of the German tourist sitting next to me. Then they showed what the men had to do ‘when there was a call of nature’, bare behind and all! That made the Germans laugh. Bit graphic for me. Interestingly there was no mention of the Cod Wars that I could find anywhere in the museum.
With a fair bit of time on my hands, I wandered all through the town and found the tatty bits- all the old trawling gear from more productive days
I also watched the lorries picking up trays of ice to take out to the fishing boats.
I took couple of photos of the campsite, which made me think that you have to be a little careful about images in advertisements
After I came back and we had supper, poor Tim was still not good, so I went to do the washing up. I met a great couple of guys, one from Israel with a Ukulele, another chap who seems to be living in a poor tatty tent by the toilet block, and we sang Beatle songs, which made the washing up way more fun than usual.
On Wednesday we headed out from Isafjordur and drove as far as Talkafjordur towards the south peninsulas of the ‘lobster claws’. The Lonely Planet guide was not too complimentary about this area, but it was still beautiful.
We drove along rote 60, into a tunnel just west of Isafjordur which went in three different directions. Half way down this 5km tunnel there was a choice of directions and then it slimmed down into a single lane tunnel with passing places. Pure joy- if stress is your favoured state. We gave the most remote peninsulas a miss as there is not even a gravel road that allows you to go the whole way round and headed further south along route 60. This took us through some amazing scenery. It alternated between fjords sided by towering, forbidding mountains and huge lava fields that you would not want to be stranded in.
The lichen was very happy to grow there in generously bouncy cushions, but there was very little else thriving. A high spot on the route was a series of cascades, just off route 60 called Dvajandi (?) which had the prettiest series of waterfalls we have seen so far.
It was interesting to come across the tour group of Americans that I had seen sampling rotten shark meat in the fishing museum in Isafjordur, and they all looked healthy enough 24 hours later. Bonkers to try it, but healthy!
On the way out of the valley, climbing up towards the top of the towering granite cliffs, I started waxing lyrical about how this particular valley had everything, drama, greenery, perfect cascades, exciting roads, to which Tim dryly pointed out that it couldn’t have every thing because there was no Irish bar….
So we drove on through the massive lava fields, via hair pin bends on scary gravel roads and we decided to stop at Talkaffjordur for the night. Unfortunately the hissing sound that was coming from the rear left hand side tyre when we got to the camp site was telling us we might need to stay a little longer,at least until we could locate a Discovery replacement tyre.
So there we were, in Talkaffjordur, doing the best we could with the very limited local ingredients (we ended up with a very nice Moroccan-style pork dish).
On Thursday we managed to find someone in the village to mend the tyre, but it was in such poor condition we decided we had to track down some new tyres. The local chap only seemed to have second hand tyres, so we headed off to the next town (the only one for miles) called Patreksfjordur, where there was another garage. When it finally opened, we were greeted by a very nice young manager, who said he could get us 4 new tyres by nine o’clock the next day. What is more, it looks like they may be cheaper than you can get them in the UK. We shall see.
The campsite in Patreksfjordur is quite exposed and the wind is blowing pretty strongly. The ground is very rocky, so we had trouble bashing the pegs in. To ensure the tent stays put, we resorted to holding the edges down with rocks.