Day 6 - Iceland / Toronto, Canada

The thing that always struck as about the house in Iceland is that however windy is was - and it was REALLY windy - you couldn’t hear a thing inside. Therefore, disappointing to note that the whole house rattled with the ferocious winds on the night we needed sleep as we were getting up before 3am to drive to the airport. The thought of a really high winds, gravel paths and no lit roads didn’t fill me with joy.

Spoiler Alert: We didn’t die.

Got an uncomfy plane and five and a half hours later we landed in Toronto.

Had some lunch in a place called Grimsby.

Found a little shop called “Walmart” and picked up bread, cheese, eggs, coffee, etc.

Found the house, which is lovely.

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Walked down main street. Had a beer at “Knuckleheads". Lots of houses had Halloween decorations up.

Noticed that the Cardiac Diagnostic Clinic is opposite the Funeral Home

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Day 5 - Iceland

A very clear night out of the bedroom window last night.

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Set off with no real plan. As we headed towards a church seen from the road we came across the Shark museum that had eluded us for a couple of days. There was the offer to trying some putrefied shark but I don’t eat fish (yes, it’s a fish and not a mammal) and Jane wasn’t keen either. Also, who wants to have to explain to the car hire people why the car is quite so full of sick.

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Then outside to see the shark drying. If you can imagine how it smells, then you’re probably right.

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The woman in the shark museum said the church was the oldest in Iceland. Google doesn’t agree. (Google: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/grafarkirkja)

This church belongs to the Stykkisholmur benefice in the Snaefellsnes- and Dalir Deanery. During the Catholic period, the churches were dedicated to St. Nicolas. The present church was consecrated in 1857.

It is a little, wooden church, the pride possession of the farmer at Bjarnarhofn. It is the home chapel of Bjarnarhofn and has no other parishioners.
— https://www.nat.is/bjarnarhofn-church/
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Talking of churches. After heading back to Stykkishólmur to look for bookmarks and grab a coffee we found the road that lead to Stykkishólmur church. The church had a Steinway grand piano which sounded wonderful, even if my playing didn’t.

This church belongs to the Stykkisholmur benefice in the Snaefell- and Dalir Deanery. Until 1878 the hamlet belonged to the Helgafell benefice, when a new parish for the people there was established. The old church of the small town has been renovated and still protrudes into the main street. It was built in 1879.

The new church is a concrete architectural adventure with seats for 300 people. It was consecrated in 1980 and has been used as a concert hall as well from the beginning. Its stands rather high and is very prominent from land and sea.
— https://www.nat.is/Churches/stykkisholmur_church.htm
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Down to the harbour and bought a little model of a viking boat for the back room.

Took more photos on the way back. The wind was so strong it was hard to open the car doors (even taking into account my well-renowned upper body strength).

An early night as we’re up at 3am to drive to the airport for the flight to Canada.

Day 4 - Stykkishólmur, Iceland

Woke to a much colder, windier, wetter, blusterer morning. The vague plan was just get in the car and drive in the opposite direction to normal. A crazy, foolhardy plan. But a plan.

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The first thing we came across was a graveyard (not church though). Who doesn’t like a graveyard?

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Into Stykkishólmur. Car filled up with yet more petrol.

When in Iceland… a Belgian bun. Coffee and the World’s stickiest bun at Nesbrauð Cafe.

In the distance we could see Stykkishólmur church, but try as we might we couldn’t find the road that led up to it. A series of dead ends.

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It never takes us long to hit another bit of coast.

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If you don’t want to imagine what hundreds of dead starfish in a skip might look like then look away now.

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Popped down a side path and found a couple of heads on poles. Perhaps not the most welcoming of sights.

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Drove home. Can you see the house? It’s the red one.

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Day 3 - Snæfellsjökull National Park, Iceland

The plan was the Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum (as we’d past the sign a few times) the on to Snæfellsjökull National Park. The sign was at the end of the long gravel road that linked where we were staying to the main road. It helpfully said it was open from 9-6pm but sadly chose not to say where it was. We tried in vain to find it, but nope. Had we found it there was the opportunity to try putrefied shark meat. To be honest that sounds like a hard no from me.

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The sun hit this mountain in a pleasing way which made me think of a Turner painting (though probably not if you’re looking on a tiny phone screen).

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Into Olakfsvik (Sker restaurant) for lunch and a look at the church. The church was consecrated on November 10th 1967. It’s the first modern church in Iceland.

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A sculpture by Jon Gunnar Amason (b. 15 May 1931). “The Ship": We all have our dream boat and we all dream of sailing deep into our dreams. These boats reflect my own imagination, my precision and my knowledge about simple boat builders of the past centuries."

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And by contrast a few hundred feet away was the self-proclaimed capital of the World.

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Onwards where we laugh in the face of danger (totally turned around and didn’t go up there).

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It looked fine from the bottom.

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Onward to a black-sanded beach (yes, I Photoshopped out some people who had the audacity to be in my photo).

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One more waterfall then home.

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Day 2 - Grundarfjörður, Iceland

A short thirty minute drive into Grundarfjörður. The landscape on the drive over felt as thought it was caused by volcanoes then taken over by moss. Can someone check that for me, please?

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A hike (okay, just about forty-five minutes - shut up) to a waterfall. The sky was annoyingly pale.

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Coffee, yoghurt and a cold drink at Cafe Emil which managed to combine a library, coffee shop, museum and photography exhibition in one. A look at Grundarfjörður church (closed, of course).

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“Kirkjufell, or 'Church Mountain', is a distinctly shaped peak found on the north shore of Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula, only a short distance away from the town of Grundarfjörður.”

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Day 1 - Iceland

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Up at 3am. Taxi at 4am. Bouncing over a slick motorway through the rain.

Landed in Reykjavik but had to sit around on the tarmac as someone had become ill and the paramedics treated them before taking them away in an ambulance.

Almost two hours to get the hire car because apparently a storm had stopped flights for a couple of days and they had a backlog. Eventually got the car and if you think you’ve ever had a worse hire car than this one then I had a bet to make with you. Rusty, cracked windscreen and a clutch so unresponsive I genuinely just figured the car didn’t work.

We picked up some food at Bonus Supermarket (as it’s supposed to be the cheap place to shop). About £50 for our snacks, bacon, pasta, milk, noodles, etc.

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A good three hour drive in total through nice scenery and we FINALLY go to the nicely remote house in Snæfellsnes. Also, see below the crappy hire car - do please feel free to call it names.

Allergies aside, it’s nice to see horses out of the house window.

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Flights, Cars, Accommodation, Money, etc.

The plans so far are:

In Iceland we’ll drive a couple of hours to the famous mountain “Kirkjufell” then cross East towards the glaciers.

In Toronto we’ll drive to Niagara and stay around there.

Then onto Cuba. I guess we’ll predominantly stay around Havana.

✔ Flights booked - Iceland, Canada (Toronto) and Iceland.

✔ Canadian Visa - Accepted

✔ Cuban Visa - Form complete, Postal Cheques picked up

✔ Ordered 30,000 Icelandic Króna.

✔ Booked hotel in Iceland.

✔ Booked flat in Cuba.

✔ Car hired for Iceland.

✔ Car hired for Canada.

Cuban currency (CUC) will be exchanged at the airport.