Danny Yee >> Bushwalking & Travel >> South Iceland

Reykjanes - Grindavik, Blue Lagoon

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the Laxá valley
From Þingvellir, instead of going straight to Reykjavik, we went north to Hvalfjörður, along a road that runs through farmland down the valley of the Laxá ("salmon river"). Across the fjord there were views of a huge cement works and of Akranes, but we saw no whales.

Reaching Reykjavik, we drove around looking for somewhere to have dinner. After a visit to a supermarket near old harbour, we ended up eating catfish in a cafe "Gallery 22" on Laugavegur, right near Anna's flat. This was just like a Newtown cafe here in Sydney - the video screening list included Manufacturing Consent - and there were two men playing chess and a man and a woman playing backgammon.

Anna wasn't home - and she'd left note on her door, but on the inner door where we couldn't reach or read it. There was no response on her mobile, so we left a note on her door and waited in the car, a bit depressing. But she eventually turned up and found us - she'd been invited to a farewell party for a fellow student (in a swimming pool, as is apparently common in Iceland).

Wednesday 3rd September

Heading south out of Reykjavik, our first stop was Kleifarvatn, a large "dead" lake - this was slightly eerie, but not that exciting. Just south of Kleifarvatn is a small geothermal area with half a kilometre or so of boardwalk, and some coloured lakes.

We stopped at a lovely little reconstructed church at Krísuvík, then went out to the Selatangar beach, where fishermen used to bring boats in and out of the water. It wasn't stormy, but you could still feel the immense power of the sea here - I wouldn't want to have been taking a small boat out even in good weather!

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geothermal area
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Krísuvík church
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the altar

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Grindavik
It was raining lightly so we pushed on to Grindavik for lunch, which was an excellent meal in a fish restaurant - monk-fish for Camilla, haddock for Anna, and "three kinds of fish" for me. The Icelandic Salt Fish Museum has a surprisingly fascinating history of salt-fishing in Iceland; there's also an attached art gallery. They were selling saltfiskur (saltfish), and Anna bought a bag just to try it - it has the consistency of cardboard, with a slight fish taste (for some reason it's popular in Spain and Portugal).

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Blue Lagoon from afar
Blue Lagoon (Bláa Lónið) utilises waste-water from a geothermal power plant to heat what is effectively a huge outdoor swimming pool. It's a big complex and something of a tourist trap, though it wasn't that busy when we were there. We swam around the "lagoon", playing with the therapeutic mud, a tame waterfall, and other attractions, and made a brief visit to the sauna. It was good fun despite, the gusting rain, and we spent maybe an hour there all up. It was too wet for photos, except for some very blurry ones taken from inside through the windows or from a distance when we were leaving.

Back in Reykjavik, we left the car in same spot I'd picked it up and rang the car hire company to tell them where it was. We had dinner in Gallery 22 and Anna explained her computer woes - the hard drive on her laptop had carked it, and getting a new disk drive and having it installed was so expensive in Iceland that it was more practical for her husband buy a entire new laptop in Australia and FedEx it to her!

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[Alternative spellings: Hvalfjordur]

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