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Snaefellsnes Peninsula

This fascinating penninsula is home to Snaefellsjokull, a volcano featured in Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. It was a worthwhile, even though much too short, detour before my trip to the Westfjords.


Hvalfjordur

I got up at 2am. I had a long day ahead of me having booked a night in Paetreksfjordur, one of few towns of any size in the Westfjords, and planning a detour to some sight on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. It was the first of June, and it does not get dark at all that time of the year in such northern latitudes. The sun rose about a half an hour after I left Reykajvik as I was driving along the fjord of Hvalfjordur. The mountains above the fjord still carried plenty of snow. Together with the sunrise light, this made for some really scenic views. A few minutes later, I stopped by the road to see a group of Icelandic horses that grazed calmly in the dawning sun.

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Moonset above Reykjavik Farm and Hvalfjordur Horses and Hvalfjordur Hvalfjordur scenery Barn Barn
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Icelandic horse Black horse Face to face Grazing duo Backlit mane
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Calm of the morning


Borgarnes and the south

As I crossed a river to reach Borgarnes, a small town at the southeastern start of the penninsula, I was drawn to its church prominently beckoning to travelers from its location on a small hill. Farther west, the highway winds its way through a beautiful landscape that features volcanic mountains rising from coastal meadows on which sheep and the beautiful Icelandic horses were grazing.

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Bridge across Borgarfjordur Bridge across Borgarfjordur Bridge across Borgarfjordur Church in Borgarnes Scenery along Hwy 54 Horse and mountains
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Horse and mountains Rental Nissan on Hwy 54 White horse White horse Highway 54 Snow speckled mountains
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Curve Curve on Snafellsnesvegur Church along Snafellsnesvegur Crosses Icelandic horses Along a creek
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Horses near Snafellsnesvegur


Kirkjufell

It seems that these days no photographer misses this erect nipple of a peak on the north coast of the penninsula. I arrived around the time low clouds broke up and gave way to sunshine. It was mid morning and well after some interesting light could make for a more interesting scene, but it was not a letdown by any means. I enjoyed the elements - the incredible gale that accompanied me the rest of the day was just picking up and made the place seem raw enough even in the sunshine. Yet, as striking as the mountain is, it did make me wonder why so many converge on the same places.

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Rest area at Vatnaleid Bridge across Hraunsfjardarvatn Kirkjufell reflection Kirkjufell in BW Kirkjufell in BW
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Kirkjufell Nipple Kirkjufellsfoss Kirkjufellsfoss Kirkjufellsfoss Kirkjufell shower
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Photographing photographer Kirkjufellsfoss in BW


West

Continuing west of Kirkjufell, the highway follows the north shores of the penninsula. Sheep and horses grazed on the pastures between the mountains and the beaches. The wind seemed truly primal. Now I could understand the warning from the rental car company that the most common damage was from car doors being wildly by the wind as people opened them. The wind and the chilly temperatures did not seem like a place for babies, but it was the beginning of summer and a newly born, and still wet, fowl did not seem to mind the wind as it stood by its mother. It soon became clear that much of Snaefellsjokull will remain in the clouds for much of the day and I turned around some distance before Olafsvik after enjoying the view of the surf on a black sand beach.

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Road toward Brimilsvellir Surf near Brimilsvellir Waves and the mountains Sheep crossing
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Ram Mare and foal
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Mare and foal Fanily Feeding


Grundafjordur and the north

On the way back east I stopped in Grundafjordur, a fishing town of colorful houses just a couple of kilometers east of Kirkjufell, to buy some groceries and supplies for the trip. As I continued east along the north shore. I passed a cyclist braving the gale and could not help but admire his determination. It seemed a wise course of action would have been to wait out the winds in Grundafjordur, but this guy probably set out to re-enact heroic acts of Icelandic sagas documented on a display by the roadside. I hoped he would make it wherever he was trying to get that day.

Much of the Highway 54 east of its intersection with Highway 56 was not paved. I was not sure if that or the continuously impressive scenery slowed me down more.

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Oystercatchers Harbor in Grundarfjordur Colorful Grundarfjordur Harbor and Kirkjufell Cyclist
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Resilience Waterfall Grundarfjordur Pastoral Iceland
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Ship and Kirkjufell Eyrbyggja saga Road west of Kolgrafarfjordur Hwy 54
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Qashqai Alftafjordur Church and Hvammsfjordur One lane bridge


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Last updated: May 3, 2016
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