After it had been cold and rainy the previous day, I was really hoping for better weather on my third day in Iceland, especially since the plan for the day was to leave the familiar surrounding of Reykjavik and head north into areas of the country I hadn’t been to.
Before leaving Reykjavik, however, I drove over to Perlan, one of the city’s signature buildings, to take some pictures of the city and it’s colorful roofs. It was beautiful and sunny when I left my guesthouse, but I could see the dark clouds moving in from the east.
I had barely made it up to the fourth floor observation deck before the storm descended upon the city. I snapped a few quick pictures, but was forced to make a hasty retreat inside as the sleet intensified. I was disappointed not to get the great images of Reykjavik I had come here for, but the views weren’t the only reason to visit Perlan. The well-reputed Saga Museum occupies the basement.
The Saga Museum tells, through a series of displays, the turbulent story of Iceland’s history. While the country today is a model peaceful society, the stories told in the museum highlight a history as difficult as the settlement of this country was. The museum tour also came with an excellent audio program, a handheld device offered in many languages, that gives a description at each of the displays.
Upon leaving the Saga Museum’s basement confines, I noticed that the weather outside had once again turned sunny. I decided to give the observation deck one more try, and I was really glad I did. The storm that had pelted me with sleety hail had moved across the back and sat hovering over the mountains on the other side of the bay. I was able to get my tripod out and shoot some of the most amazing HDR images I have even taken.
Then it was time for my much anticipated trip out of Reykjavik. On my previous visit in 1998, I’d only done the Golden Circle and Reykjavik. Although I wasn’t venturing out too far, I was excited to see what small town life in Iceland was like. My first stop, a little over an hour north of Reykjavik was Akranes, a town of about 6,500 inhabitants located on a small split of land that extends into the bay. Since I was there well over a month in advance of the prime tourist season, I found the town to be exceptionally sleepy, with it’s main museum shuttered and much of the tourist infrastructure similarly closed. Since the weather had turned sunny, it still was a pleasant place for a stroll.
I didn’t linger long in Akranes. I turned north and headed for my final destination for the day.
My destination was the town of Borgarnes.
I stopped in Borgarnes for two reasons. First, I was going to use it as a base for exploring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula the next day. Second was my desire to visit Borgarnes most popular sight, The Settlement Museum. The museum is incredibly well-done, and consists of two parts; the settlement of Iceland and the Saga of Egill.
As with most of the sagas, there is little basis in recorded history, but the stories are elaborate and do seem to reflect the harsh facts of life growing up in Viking Iceland. The main character, Egill, is a mischief maker as a child, but grows up to be a fearsome warrior.
After the previous days adventurous meals (at Cafe Loki & Tapas Barinn), I chose to have lunch in the museums highly-reviewed cafe. The shrimp pasta was excellent.
After checking in to my hostel and a short walk around the sleepy city, I drove a few kilometers out of town to the site of the original farm at Borg. The history of the place goes back before 900 A.D.
There has been a church on this site since the year 1002 A.D. The current church dates from 1880 A.D.
After a short nap, one I took without worry since it stays light so late in this latitude that I wasn’t worried about missing anything, I headed out and got my favorite dinner at a local gas station. I could have eaten Icelandic hot dogs, pylsurs, for every meal.
I was treated to a chilly but beautiful evening. I wandered around near the waterfront as darkness didn’t completely settle in until after 10:30 P.M. I headed off to bed, excited for the following day’s adventure on the wilds of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, which was the reason I’d gotten the rental car in the first place.
Europe 2013 Posts-
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