Iceland the beautiful!
We needed to call into Torshavn in the Faroe Islands on the way north-west, to unload cargo and passengers. Below are some views around Torshavn and the island channels through which we travelled.
Below: reversing into the dock in Torshavn.
Below: I loved the sod-roofed houses along the waterways near the dock in Torshavn.
After a relatively rough crossing, it became much smoother and the waves gentler as we approached the coast of Iceland. The ship slowly manoeuvered its way along through the fjiords, until eventually we reached the dock at Seydisfjordur on the eastern side of the island.
Or, to put it more into perspective, this is how little I travelled of the island on the first day, all of about 160km or so!
The bikes were strapped down by the riders, using whatever straps one could find in the piles laying around. But we all seemed to manage OK, and none of the bikes fell over, as far as I could tell. Fortunately, I'd been one of the first bikes to board, so had wedged the Wee in between two vertical railed bar dividers, so had good points to strap onto. You can just see one of the yellow and black bars below seat level that I tied onto.
Above: From memory, the next door sidecar was from either Russia or the Ukraine.
Once off the ship, I went direct to the service station cum bank cum shop, to get some Icelandic currency from the ATM, and took some photos of the ship, the MV Norrona, at the dock, reloading for the return journey.
Having got myself cashed up, I was just about to hop on the bike and depart when a lady came over to speak with "the owner of this Australian bike". Eva and her husband are from Austria, and had just spent 3 weeks touring Iceland in their campervan. We chatted for some time, until her husband started tooting his horn, as they were outbound on the boat, and needed to get over to the docks.(Eva kindly posted in the guestbook, and is one of those who became worried about me when the website hadn't been updated for so many long months afterwards!!!! [ Hi, Eva! ] )
It was crisp and cool weather when I set off counterclockwise heading north, to the town of Egilsstadir, where I knew there would be a supermarket and internet, among other things. Hey, c'mon, I was hanging out for my web-fix, as the satellite service on the ship was horrendously expensive, as were most other things on board, I must admit, so I'd gone without for almost 3 days! The road from the docks winds its way up with many switchbacks until it reaches the plateau, a long, long way above the now tiny ship at the docks, as you can see (minus the ship) from the photos below, taken on my return to the ship a week later.
Egilsstadir is a good sized town with a large Visitors' Centre which was doing brisk business, as it seemed almost all the tourists on board the Norrona had come here first. I got some maps of the island and found out where wifi was available. Off over the road to the supermarket to get some essentials for the camping to come, then back to the cafe next to the Visitors' Centre, where I had some wonderfully thick traditional Icelandic soup and a pot of tea, which I enjoyed immensely while I perused the internet to my heart's content.
But time was passing, so it was time to hit the tracks nor-nor-westwards, as I wasn't feeling any better and was looking forward to a decent night's sleep. Believe me, it isn't fun travelling when not feeling well!
The cool fresh air was bracing as I followed the road over hills and valleys, most hills denuded of vegetation by the arctic winter. There were a lot of shaggy sheep around, both on and off the road, so I had to ride carefully, also dodging the vehicles pulled up on the road to take photos!
Waterfalls are everywhere on this volcanic island ...
Below: Egilsstadir in the far distance, centre
I came to an area which looks like the surface of the moon - really weird, rocky and barren. There is a lookout point here, which was almost full (of course) of tourists. I pulled in and got off to take some photos. Eventually, a young chap and his friends wandered over and started to talk about the bike and my trip. They were Russian, travelling around the island in a hire car having flown in previously, although he had a bike at home in Russia.
So I tried out the one and only complete sentence I know in Russian, and they laughed as they interpreted it: "I'm sorry, but I don't speak Russian". They are the 5th lot of Russians who have understood me, so it must be right, surely?
Below: They have some straight roads here, too.
I pulled in to visit this site (below) but really wished I hadn't as the putrid stench of the sulphur really tore into my lungs and sinuses, almost making me vomit when I took a breath. My damaged respiratory system could not cope with this, so I took some photos and promptly left the site, gasping in the fresher air out on the main road.
Below: views from the lookout point not far from where I camped, thermal holes belching their steam into the air.
I rode into this campsite, as I'd seen hoardings along the way, advertising that it had wifi, etc. Put the tent up and tried the wifi. Nope, not gonna happen here! Asked the lass in the office about it, who promptly said "Oh yes, we used to have it, but we don't now." Damn, that was the main reason I picked this campground, after all. But I was too crook to do much about it, and quickly settled down in my camp bed and slept, and slept, and slept.
On the second day, I made myself get up and ride back to the Myvantn thermal pools and go for a one-hour swim. These pools were not as warm as those in Moree, New South Wales, where I usually stop for a swim on the way north. But they were better than nothing and it was quite relaxing, lazing around for an hour or so in the bouyant water. I had a bit of a giggle here, coz I used myTassie Seniors card to get a nice reduction in the entry fee, although Icelandic Seniors are OVER 67! I'm not quite there, yet. Haha!
On the third day, I struggled out and went walking, carrying the laptop (thankfully, it's tiny and relatively light), as I was sure there'd be wifi somewhere in the village. At the far end, I found a pub with an adjacent cafe - with wifi in the cafe! Yeah! Naturally, I was too crook to update the website, as it takes sooooooo long to do.
After staying there in Myvatn for 3 nights and not feeling any better, I just had to pack and leave as I was only on the island for 7 days, or else I wouldn't make it around the island and back to Seydisfjordur in time to catch the ship back to Europe.
I set off and came upon this tiny village surrounded by little volcanoes, although I wasn't feeling up to climbing to the top like the people pictured below. Volcanoes everywhere, tiny, small, medium and large - all shapes and sizes.
The major city of Akureyri appeared far down below the road I was on, on the banks of a fjiord, with cruise ships lining the harbour. It was time for lunch, so I tootled down and around the city till I found somewhere to park (illegally) outside the "in place" for those wanting to use the internet. A bustling cafe/bookstore, the meals were good and relatively reasonably priced - for Iceland! And the wifi was free, of course.
There was still a fair way to go to get to Reykjavik, the capital of this far flung island, and I wanted to get there before dark, so I pushed on till a roadhouse beckoned at dinner time. OMG, it was totally packed!!!!! It seemed as if everybody in Iceland was here at this time. I eventually got my meal and ate it as the hordes finally thinned out. Then it was back on the road to the capital.
Fortunately, this far north the daylight lingers for a looooong time. It was about 9.30pm when I arrived at the campground almost in the middle of the city and set up camp for the night.
I'd found that there was a Suzuki dealer listed in the mapping software on the GPS. But as I wasn't using Garmin software, but OSM (Open Street Maps) unfortunately it didn't show much else. And I couldn't use the "Find" function to find streets or addresses - only the businesses/places with which it came pre-loaded. But at least this was better than nothing, so the next morning I set off to the dealership [basically cars, but a few bikes as well ], only to find that there was no mechanic attached to it! Yikes! But they were very good, saying that they never keep parts for the WeeStroms "as they never break down". Yeah, right! So they got onto the private mechanic who does any work the dealership needs done. Luckily, it was his first day back from 3weeks of holidays, so he said he'd have a look at the speedo problem. The dealer gave me the address - weeeeellllllll, sort of! I couldn't really understand all that he said, and the GPS wasn't having a bar of taking me where I needed to go.So I went from one side of the city to the other, backwards and forwards, asking people where I should be going, only to invariably be turned back the way I came.
Finally, someone told me where to go, describing the way by means of buildings/structures (and their colours) that I would pass, rather than street names which meant nothing to me. I arrived - not at the 3pm as previously arranged, but at 4.50pm! Thankfully, the mechanic was still there and came up to street level to get my bike and take it back down to his workshop below, as I couldn't work out how to get down there.
Alas, he was unable to do any real tests, as he didn't have another sensor to test it with, although after removing it for a close inspection, he thought the sensor looked OK. And he again verified that they don't carry WeeStrom parts, as they don't break down. OK, so it still isn't fixed. Nothing for it but to keep on without the speedo, and just rely on the GPS for accurate speed readings.
On the way to the dealer's that morning, one of my pannier lids had gone sailing down the multi-lane road behind me. I braked and parked the bike half on the road, flashers going, and ran back to pick it up, hoping that noone would run over it and squash it before I got there. Phew! Safe! Apparently I'd not latched it down correctly before I left the campground. Hmmmmm, this is the sort of silly little thing that sneaks up when one is not feeling too healthy and bright. I'd need to keep my wits about me a bit more, methinks, or I'll lose another one ....
Although the city baths, thermally heated, were almost next door to the campground, I just couldn't bring myself to walk there, as it was surprisingly hot weather. and I wasn't feeling very well at all.
Rejkjavik is roughly half the loop around the island. I had a little over 2 days to get to the dock at Seydisfjordur.
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