My father’s burial anniversary was a year ago last week. And this is the same week when pufflings start to appear all over the streets of Heimaey. When leaving their tunnel nests in the cliffs, they are meant to fly out to sea with the moonlight as a guide, but they get confused with the street lights in town. So they end up flapping up and down the streets looking for a way out to sea, but still unable to fly.Its become a custom to catch these little pufflings and release them, by throwing them off a cliff, which is the best way to get them safely to fly to sea. They will then live on the ocean until they come back to the cliffs around Iceland next spring, and dig more tunnel nests to make more puffling babies. I went with 4 friends, 3 of which had never seen a puffin, and we all got to release a puffin. My cousin had caught 2, and a friendly family also puffin throwing from the same cliff gave us 2 more to release. I think they were excited to see tourists, a life of the outside world still in Iceland, and we were so warmly welcomed on the island. My aunty invited us in for coffee, despite covid fears, and the swimming pool was open (and empty) but they still turned on the slides for us to race down over and over like little kids. We had an amazing meal at Slippurinn, and hiked up Heimaklettur for some stunning sunset views. We were lucky with incredible weather, and managed to eat brunch the next morning outside in the garden of my father´s childhood home. My paid my father´s grave a visit, paid our respects and lit some candles. I think he would have been happy to see us. RIP
Day 1: Steve, Liv and I packed up my rusting Kia jeep and left Reykjavik around 10:30. The car was full with sleeping bags, tents, food, rain clothes and eventually some firewood, but we tried to save room for a hitch-hiker. We had a few other to-do’s on our list, like hottubbing every day, summiting a mountain, making a campfire and one of us had to kiss a tourist. We had a slow start, stopping in Akranes and Borgarnes for our last doses of civilization, and then hiked to the top of a volcano in Bifröst.
We took route 60 north, stopping in Reykjadalur for our first hottub stop, Grafarlaug. There was a dirt road all the way to it, but we didn´t see it and hiked in past the sheep round-up pen. It has 3 different pools, around 20°, 30°, and 40°C, all filled with slimey green algae that must do wonderful things for your skin. We continued north, past Búðardalur, to Laugar, where we bathed in another hottub named Guðrúnarlaug, which wasn´t quite as comfortable at only 35 or 36°. We met two other tourists there, one which we tried to take with us, but after failing, we set up camp at the tip of Fellströnd and named it Camp Charlie.
Day 2: We ate breakfast near Dagverðarnes (which means the peninsula of breakfast, appropriately), and drove along Skarðsströnd to finally reach the Westfjörds, All of the islands and islets in Breiðafjörður grew and shrank with the changing tides, and our next stop was at Hellulaug, a 38°C hottub right on the beach. We went sea-swimming and shared the hottub with some Swedish tourists, and then bathed at Krosslaug, another hottub right on the sea with a 35°C pool beside it.
We then drove to the most westernmost part of the westfjords (which is also the westernmost part of Iceland… and Europe), and watched the penguins dance around at Látrabjarg. We set up our Camp Midnight somewhere off route 612, and managed to make another fire from scrap wood we stile from Ásgarður.
Day 3: We made breakfast on the beach below our camp, before meeting the landowner we didn´t know existed who asked us nicely not to poop anywhere on his land. We daytripped to Rauðasandur, a beach with such blue waters you´d believe you were in the Caribbean. We swam next at Patreksförður´s public pool and had our first real shower in days, and then bathed at the natural hottubs ‘Pollurinn’ in Tálknafjörður. Without revealing any incriminating details, we then set up Camp Threesome in the town´s campsite.
Day 4: We decided to change things up a bit and dip into a glacier river. Underneath the farm Foss (which means waterfall), we ran into the waterfall spray and luckily had the sun to airdry ourselves. Then we spent the entire day having a pool party at Reykjafjarðarlaug, a huge warm pool with a hotter, muddy hottub in the grass above. It was like a scene from Coachella, a bunch of foreign hipsters, a boom box and a full bar, but set in the dramatic westjords, which happened to be sunny and warm for the first time on our roadtrip.
Day 5: We woke up at the edge of the westfjords, and took down our Camp Forest which was sheltered well from the wind, but not the heavy raindrops that started to leak through our $20 tent. We warmed up at Djúpidalslaug with the family of the owners, then got invited into their barn to check out some sheep, the new-born late comers of the season. One pair was only a few hours old, still covered in yukky stuff, and the mothers were clearly getting stir crazy from still being locked up inside.
We tried to bathe at the end of the road in Reykjanes, but both pools were closed at Reykjhólar and Laugaland has been abandoned and turned cold. Liv had a driving lesson on the way back, as well as some 5 year old kid we passed driving a tractor, and then we finished our roadtrip with a little educational stop at the Settlement exhibit in Borgarnes, Landnámssetur Íslands.
We never got our hitch hiker, but we managed to complete all our other to-do’s. Me, Liv and Steve are leaving for another roadtrip along the south coast next week, s perhaps we’ll find one then.