Friday, July 17, 2009

Rauðisandur og Látrabjarg

Well, it seems I am in the mood...

Last weekend, Jacob did not have class on Friday so once I was finished with work we ate lunch, packed the car, headed to Gerður´s store for a sweater repair and then to Bónus before really getting on the road. Once through the long dark tunnel Zelia was asleep and Jacob and I just enjoyed the ride.

We had been duly warned about the roads so were ready for some slow driving. Although most people here are not driving that slowly, but gravel can be like ice and when you are driving on the edge of 200 meter cliffs, no one wants to be a hero. Much of the drive we have done before, at this point several times and so Jacob was feeling quite confident. Once we passed Dynjandi, over the mountain pass, almost at the end we turned off toward Bíldudalur and we were on new roads - for us. Still all gravel:) As we came around to Tálknafjörður we decided to follow our map to some hot pots, to have lunch and then a swim. We ended up going almost all the way through town to the pool and campgrounds. We had a nice picnic lunch outside and then headed to the pool (we had not found the natural hotpots). The pool was great, I really don´t know why Ísafjörður has the worst pool in the Westfjords. The best part of this pool, which was totally outdoors, was this wading, sun bathing pool. It is totally brilliant and i the Caribbean resorts would do this it would be perfect. It was a relatively shallow pool with a smooth surface and had large smooth rocks in it that you could lounge on and enjoy the sun. It was super beautiful out and lovely. The largest, regular swimming pool was about 36 degrees and then there were two other hot pots at hotter temps. After the swim we were back on the road feeling rejuvenated.

As we drove into Patrksfjörður we were charmed by a nice looking town, found a market and bought some frozen schnitzel - I was having the biggest craving! As we left, returned for gas and left again we were struck by the most amazing sight. This fjord is huge and has amazingly beautiful and large sand beaches, the water was turquoise - it looked like we were in Hawaii - better beaches than any we saw in Fiji. It was breathtaking. Every bend we turned revealed another pool of clear water and sand dunes everywhere covered in patchy grass. Once almost around the fjord we could either go to Látrabjarg or Rauðisandur and we chose Raupisandur - the red sand beaches. We traveled over a pretty crazy 10km pass into another fjord to a site to behold. There is a large reef out in the water which lends a pink/red hue to the sand - the beach was HUGE, well over a mile deep, I think. We drove up and down looking for a good place to camp, thought one place then no, then another and no and finally we went back to the first place we saw where there was one camper. It was getting windier and windier and we ended up setting up our tent within the ruined walls of a farm house or some other structure. We have collected some drift wood from the beach and Jacob made a fire and cooked dinner. Several times we tried to get Zelia to sleep but it was pretty tough in all that light. We were along a mountain so eventually dipped into shadow, but it was still daylight out. Eventually we all fell asleep. In the morning we had bacon and eggs and headed toward the beach to a path that would take us out onto the sand. Zelia was loving the freedom and kept squatting down and saying peepee - so funny. Once out on the sand, in the sun, it was really amazing. Zelia immediately found a mussel shell and started to dig. It was so much fun to watch her really explore the beach and check out the sand. A large seal was curious about us and floating around in the water - perfection.

Eventually we walked back, went to the camp site to have lunch and then headed back across the pass and over to Látrabjarg. Zelia took her nap in the car.

We went over one of the scariest areas yet, 200 meter cliffs plunging into the sea, no guardrails and we were on the outside when another car came in the other direction, ugh...there is no hope for you on these roads. It was a quick pass though and we got to the parking area which was full of cars, campers, monster trucks and buses. It was quite windy and we had already read that the cliffs can be dangerous for that - you can be sucked over and small children can be whisked away. Látrabjarg is an area of 17 km of cliffs, covered in sea birds, all types, you can hear the racket. We made some coffee, walked around and then strapped Zelia to my back and began climbing and walking along the cliff. Jacob got very close to the edge, on his stomach and got some great pictures of the birds, puffins too. I saw a few, but was not getting that close:) Anyway, Zelia was getting restless, wanted out and I wasn´t going to let her walk around there. So we headed back down, in the car, on the scary road and to a wonderfully flat camping field just across the road from a beautiful beach. We set up camp and walked to the beach. Jacob, of course, went for a dip and Zelia and played in the sand and eventually she went in some wading pools. The are was so beautiful - I keep using these words and they are beginning to feel meaningless - but you will see the pictures don´t lie.

When Jacob went in the water he stepped on a Koli (plaice) and went to get his fishing rods. He only had a few moments though and it was time to make dinner. We brought steaks (yes still from my birthday present) had broccoli and ate well. This evening we were never in the shade of a mountain and the sun was shining on us all night. We took Zelia for several drives and a walk and eventually we all got in the tent and just sort of waited to fall asleep. At one point Zelia got up, walked to the door of the tent and said, allt buid - all done! She was ready to do something else. Who knows when, but eventually we all fell asleep. Oh, I didn´t mention that the wind was really blowing and the tent was making SO much noise! In the morning Jacob noticed that everyone else had set their tents up facing a different direction and all had their cars in the same place along the tent - live and learn from the campers in Iceland. They are VERY experienced.

We had breakfast and packed up and headed out! Through the little towns, this time we stopped in Bíldudalur looking for gas, no luck, then through Patreksfjörður, Tálknafjörður and to a great hot spring pool along the side of the road overlooking the beach. Really this is the way to do long drives. About 45 minutes later we were at Dynjandi where we stopped to make grilled cheese and let Zelia run around and then back in the car to head home.

We were tired, but it was a perfect weekend!