Close to the Perlan Building, and directly underneath the path of roaring planes landing at the nearby Reykjavík airport, is the Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach, one of the city’s favorite hangouts.
Like most countries, Iceland has its share of legends from the time of its founding. But unlike most countries, Iceland’s legends are about Vikings, guaranteed to be bloody and exciting. For the uninitiated, the country’s sagas have been brought to life in the excellent Saga Museum.
Jürgen and I have been to our share of pride parades around the world: Boston, Berlin, NYC, Spain. But we’ve never seen a Gay Pride quite like Reykjavík’s, held annually in August. Led by its mayor, the entire city paints itself in rainbow colors and puts on an astonishing celebration of gayness.
The day after our soul-crushing 20-mile trek out of Hellissandur, we hopped on a bus run by Snæfellsnes Excursions which brought us around the southern coast of the peninsula. Sitting in a bus all day and basking in the awe-inspiring scenery of the Snæfellsnes without any walking involved? That was exactly what our aching bones were hoping for.
Our excursion into the Snæfellsjökull National Park was the first big hike we’d embarked on in Iceland, and was an incredible introduction to the country’s nature. By the early afternoon, we had already seen an old Irish well, an amazing crater and a lava-field. But the second part of our day would prove to be even more action-packed.
We set out early from Hellissandur for a big day of hiking around the western end of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. This was our first extended hike in Iceland, and we had planned a promising route through lava fields, to the rims of craters, past waterfalls and across glacial rivers. Well, “crossing glacial rivers” wasn’t actually on the itinerary; it was more like a last-minute surprise at the day’s end.
If you hear the same suggestion from a variety of different locals, it’s smart to listen. And it seemed that everyone we talked with in Stykkishólmur recommended a boat trip of the islands around the bay. So we bought tickets, and discovered that the locals were right. The Viking Sushi Tour was one of the most entertaining excursions we had in Iceland.
With its quaint multi-colored houses and outstanding location in the Breiðafjörður Bay, Stykkishólmur was the best town during our three-day trip to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Though its population is only around 1000, there’s plenty to occupy visitors, including three excellent museums.
As far as most visitors are concerned, there are two important points to know about Icelandic: (a) it’s one of the world’s most difficult languages to master, and (b) almost everyone in Iceland speaks superb English. So unless you’re here for the long haul, there’s not much reason to even try. I contented myself with the ability to semi-correctly pronounce Icelandic: a steep enough task even with 91 days to practice.