#8 Fjords, Tunnels & Windy Cliffs

A rather dreary morning awaited us as we departed Isafjördur. Here, tall mountains surrounded us and the road ahead led directly toward a mountain. 

Approaching, it became obvious that we were about to enter a tunnel through that mountain, which continued for nearly 5 miles and, unexpectedly, had a side branch tunnel that continued for several more miles emerging into the daylight on the way to Sudureyri a small fishing village where they processes fish catches. 


We were met by a local resident who led us on a walking tour of this quaint little village, learning more about how they process the fresh catches, using all parts of the fish for various uses, including fish skin which can be used on burn victims helping burnt skin heal. A special bonus of our tour included some samplings of a salmon ceviche, dried fish and fish cakes. Salmon, Atlantic Charr, Sea trout and others are some of the fish they process and ship. 







One can’t live on fish (cakes) alone, so we stopped by a little coffee cafe where I enjoyed a generous portion of carrot cake. Just the thing on a dreary day.

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Continuing on, returning to the tunnel, at the intersection we turned right and went nearly 9 more miles under the mountains. This section being one lane, meant some pull over cut outs allowing plenty of time for approaching cars to pass. The entire tunnel system under the mountains was fascinating to me as an engineering marvel and because it was such a long tunnel with a branch tunnel off to access the village. I estimate the straight thru portion was nearly 14 miles (22.2K), while the branch was over 6 miles (10K) for a total of over 20 miles under the mountains, the longest tunnel system I have ever experienced. 






Out into the daylight once again that afternoon we visited one of the most beautiful waterfalls we had seen. Lying at the base of a fjord, Dynjandisá appears much like a wide bridal veil. 6 other smaller falls descend below the larger. Hiking up as far as allowed I reached the base of the large fall, observing the how gracefully and gently the water flowed down and over the cliff face. Out beyond and below the scene included the fjord tucked between the tall hills on either side with white billowy clouds floating in the bright blue sky.

Most of the afternoon we traveled on unpaved roads, on the trail of a Viking saga hero and to the museum for Jon Sigurosson, an important historical figure involved in Iceland’s independence. While on the road, Steward spied spouting whales in the fjord which captured all of our attentions as we hoped to see some of them breach. Some did partially emerge but not entirely out of the water. 

Returning back along the fjord, we ascended up into the mountains over a rough, rocky road that led us through moon-like terrain differing only in that there were pools of water and snow patches, but otherwise barren. Road construction on top of the mountain road promised a much better future road surface. 

Down from the mountain we were ocean-side, traveling along the smooth seaside road with the ocean as a backdrop, gentle waves lapping the shore and blue skies streaked with both wispy cirrus and masses of cumulus clouds overhead. 

Our destination was the pleasant town of Patreksfjödur situated along the fjord. 

No more annoying sniffles. All of my perceived cold symptoms had ceased and I felt very well. 





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The following morning would have us up early and on the road to a remote cliffside location to hopefully see Puffins. Again on unpaved roads, we arrived at the cliffs and to exceptionally strong, nearly sweep you off your feet, winds. Being cautious near the cliff’s edges at times it was a struggle to stand upright. 

But several of us braced against the persistent gale force winds for optimum views. Not even the many gulls were always good at navigating the breezes blowing in and up from the ocean below where waves incessantly crashed upon the shore. Many of the birds nesting on the cliffside made little progress in forward flight being forced to nearly float in place or blown backward, necessitating a return to their cliffside perches. At least one gull, being blown against the rocky cliffs, fluttered about helplessly with a broken wing. A marauding crow, better at  piloting the vicious winds, mercifully ended the gull’s misery with several jabs at its skull quickly dispatching the bird to Valhalla. Survival of the fittest, the circle of life, in whatever manner to be described, the crow lived on at the misfortune of the gull.

(☜Suzie and Susie braving the blusterous breeze.)


Having not been sent skyward like unbound kites, we swept back into the van and continued on to the port where we boarded a ferry crossing to the West Iceland mainland. On board during the 2 ½ hour crossing we had lunch and, upon arrival, a very quick debarkation as our  van was one of the first vehicles off the ferry. 



Later in the afternoon we approach an unusual mountain that has different shapes depending from which side a person views it. From our stand point it appeared conical with a pointed top. Nearby was the Kirkjufell waterfall, not as impressive as many of the others but worth the short walk to see. 

Lodging was in sight of the North Atlantic Ocean, at Snaefellsbaer on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula where, before dinner, we hiked along the cliffs. The area is in Iceland’s oldest national park, Snaefellsjökull. Tom & I spent a shorter time outdoors, but Susan, who proved to be very adventurous throughout our trip, had proceeded further along. However, as dinner time approached, Susan had not yet returned which started to alarm the rest of us. Had she been swept over the cliffs, fallen and broken a leg or lost her way back? We hoped not as we peered out the windows from the lobby in hopes of seeing her, but to no avail. Just as Reynir began to initiate some activity to find Susan, she was seen walking up a road leading to the hotel. Relief!

The bonding throughout our trip was strong and our concerns for each other was equally strong. Thus, we were reassured of her safety when she rejoined the rest of us. 

 At dinner we presented Reynir with our tip gift to show our sincere appreciation for his guiding and driving us, always with our safety and happiness foremost in mind. 

The next day would have us on the road back to Reykjavik.  

Dynjandisá - Upper falls 

View along one of the many fjords.

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                                               Church in the fishing village Sudureyri. 


















Salmon Ceviche                                                                       Yum! Carrot Cake.     

                                                               Bracing against the strong clifftop breeze.

Get as close as you dare. 


















                                                                                              

         A bridge crossing at the end of a fjord.


Up and over a mountain pass.


u   kdonald940@cox.net © Donald E. Kline 2012