Ptarmigans, caribou, swans oh my!!

So the morning was absolutely perfect. Blue blue skies, no wind. Perfect for driving up the east coast fjords. Before Aidan woke up I walked down to the highway to take some pictures of the surrounding mountains and river. Breakfast was included in this lovely guesthouse so up to the main farmhouse we went. I think most of the people staying here were tourists but I just can’t get over how unfriendly everyone is. Maybe they’re just not sure what language to use but a smile works in any language. In B&B’s everywhere people generally greet each other. Good morning, enjoy your meal, goodbye. Something like that. Here everyone is very introspective. No eye contact, no chit chat. Not that I’m Miss chatty. I prefer my own company but I do like to say good morning, especially on such a fine day.

Breakfast was quite nice. Great bread selection, cold meats, cheese, boiled egg, skyr. Some house made smoked lamb and lamb liver pate. Pickled herring that were to die for. And really good coffee. After breakfast we intended to fuel at Höfn. But once we got there I realized Höfn was off the main road about 20 minutes. The map said there was another small town just ahead so we decided to fuel there. Except there was no gas station. Now I really didn’t want to start on our great adventure low on fuel. We popped into a yard and asked the farmer how far away the next gas was. We had half a tank and our B&B was only 200k away. The dash said we had 380k range (if you trust that sort of thing, which I don’t). The farmer said the next gas was 30-40 minutes ahead. He didn’t seem too confident but we figured, what the hell, he must know where the gas is so away we went.

I had envisioned this stretch to be the most difficult, something along the lines of the highway between Sooke and Port Renfrew. A really technical drive. And I was so grateful that the forecast of sleet and snow hadn’t materialized. As we took off into blinding sunshine and blue skies I just knew it would be a great day. We were seeing signs for caribou but figured our chances of seeing them were pretty slim. Around one corner Aidan said, what are those brown things in the field? Too big for sheep–they turned out to be caribou!! Lots and lots of them, scattered in small groups all along the fjordlands just like deer back home. They were pretty shy and we couldn’t get too close. Aidan had a real camera with her so was able to get much better shots than I could with my phone. Finally we just stopped taking pictures cause everywhere we looked there were caribou.

The highway hugged the coast but it was such an easy drive. No real grades, no twisty curves. Just a real joy to drive. And the scenery was spectacular. Mountains and glaciers and oceans. We flew by a sign that I quickly dismissed as not having the gas symbol on it but Aidan said, I think that’s our stop. So back we went. And sure enough it was just the prettiest little fishing village, with gas. We fueled up, used the wc, and had a walk around the small harbour filled with boats. The houses were so neat and tidy–I could live there. Such a remote and pretty spot. We picked up a yummy lemon cake from the grocer. On the way out there was a swan swimming along side the road. Aidan says they are whooping swans. They are everywhere too!!Then back on the road. We passed some nets out in the fjords–I think they are farming fish here but I don’t know what kind. This map gives you some idea of the ins and outs of the drive. The highway excellent and there was only a few kilometres of gravel where they were building a new bridge. And finally, near the end of the drive, there was a three and a half mile tunnel we had to drive thru.After that first pretty little town we popped into all the communities along the way. They were all nice ( but not as nice as the first one!!)This home had a troll house outside. This community had resident ptarmigans!! They are very shy birds too but how cool to see an active bird in town. We were nearing our destination and decided a hot soak in the community swimming pool would be just the thing. All of Iceland’s pools are outside. A large swim pool with lap area. Play area for the kids. Water slide usually. And two hot tubs-one hot and another one hotter. One glacier cold plunge pool. After our soak we were STARVING!! We asked the pool guy about restaurants and he recommended a few. The one we stopped at was a 50’s diner, a new restaurant in town. I so wanted fish and chips and they had it on the menu!! Aidan ordered an Icelandic hotdog with fried onions on top. My fish was sooo good. I had feared they would’ve been fish fingers or some other horrible thing but these were slivers of fresh cod, lightly battered and fried just enough. They were scrummy so I was quite happy. We had milkshakes also. With paper straws!! A few more stops in town looking for Aidan’s favourite skyr then off to the guesthouse. I must have been tired because I neglected to take pictures. We drove thru one of the most forested areas of Iceland as well and I didn’t get a shot of that either. Bed was very welcome tonight.

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