Got myself in a slight flap on Thursday night – checking the prices of upcoming hotels and one seemed to have increased over £80 since I booked in February. And I can’t cancel or change that particular booking.
However – it seems out of all the reservations I made that is the only one that was paid for at the time of booking (you would have thought I would have spotted it on the credit card bill) meaning that I got the original deal – when the pound was a little healthier. Phew.
Every penny counts at the moment. Literally. We somehow paid £15.30 for two slices of cake in the first week.
We woke at 10am this morning - unheard of for Stu. But last night was the first night with a blackout blind (I didn’t wake at 3.30 thinking it is time to get up and Stu slept through his 8.55 tablet alarm).
We’re staying in the middle of nowhere at the moment – Siresksstadir, Vopnafjördur. A wooden cottage with a hot-pot (as they call them here) and surrounded by fields and mountains. Apart from the birds screaming in the early hours it is silent.
We’re right at the start of the reindeer territory – so, this morning, we set off to find them.
We saw sheep, cows, every type of bird and horses. No deer.
Of course Iceland is teeming with puffin at this time of year. And we haven’t spotted one since our marathon drive out to the west fjords and the bird cliffs.
That is until today - another marathon drive through some stunning scenery and a variety of temperatures (11C high / 2C low) to the town of Borgarfjördur and puffin hill at Hafnarhólmi. It is bloody teeming with puffins.
They’re like miniature penguins the way they waddle.
A great day. Again.
It's our final night in the amazing and beautiful Nordurland. The latest dream is a house on the edge of Eyjafjörður, overlooking the breaching whales.
We drove a bloody long way today - I think I miscalculated the distance when I booked our stops. We're in a very sleepy town, way up 'on the edge of the Arctic' - Kópasker. We've only seen one other person - the woman who let us in our apartment. She sniffed non-stop and as she showed us around she was putting things back in neat piles / straight lines.
After a spag bol we went out for a stroll. And the same bloody woman drove past slowly...smiling.
All doors and windows will be locked tonight.
Anyway - today. A bit of history (you may want to close the page now) and yet another couple of waterfalls...
Another turf house which belongs to Iceland's National Museum. It used to be a manor house and a wealthy vicarage. Around 20-30 people lived in the house - including domestics. This time Stu decided we were going in - sod the entry fee.
All the separate buildings are joined by corridors (dark tunnels) - some of the house is underground. A bit dark and creepy.
Dettifoss and Hafragilsfoss
Dettifoss falls 45 m and is 100 m wide. It's apparently the most powerful waterfall in Europe. But if you Google it...there's one somewhere else in Europe that claims the same!
The Hafragilsfoss waterfall cascades 27 m into a deep canyon.
That's enough culture for one day!
We saw a top temperature of 18C today - I was the only person wearing a woolly hat.
Day 9 and the second whale watching trip.
I was concerned that we might not see whales this time - or the experience might not be as good.
We went out on the same boat from Hauganes again (definitely recommend these guys - small boat and not jam-packed).
It took a little longer to get company this time - around 15 minutes before we saw our first humpback (we saw a porpoise first - rushing along).
After a couple of hours we were close to one as it took a deep dive. We then waited. And waited. You have no idea where they will reappear when they dive - so we were all scanning the sea around us.
Stu was scanning to the right and I looked left. I got lucky! It breached and it was the most amazing thing I have ever seen (and the most amazing thing Stu didn't see - he's still sulking).
I didn't capture it on camera - but that image will stay with me forever (sorry Stu).
The thrill of fishing
Once again, before we headed back to the harbour the captain let us all have a go at sea fishing. I gave it a go this time. After several minutes I got bored. Anyway - I reeled in my line only to find there was a bloody fish attached to it. I have no clue how long it was there. It must have been traumatised. Anyway...after a quick photo-shoot I gave it a kiss, apologised, and threw it back in.
Heading back up to the bow (that's the front ...right?) I spotted several sea gulls fighting over a dead fish.
Stu's woes continue...
After that, and once Stu was speaking to me again, we headed back to our log cabin at Brimnes and took out one of their canoe / kayak things. Stu wasn't happy - still. It was very unstable, the wind was making it hard-going, he's pulled a muscle in his back and basically he was still in a grumpy mood.
I enjoyed it. But then for the most part I just sat with my paddle on my knee - taking in the views.
We're leaving here tomorrow - heading further east to our next stop and our final night in the North. We'll be heading down the east coast for the following few days.
We've already been here for a week and a half. The most stressful thing that has happened is when Joe rang to say his tyre is flat (and what does he do, and he can't see any damage, and he's skint, and he's defibrillating (!) and he can't afford a new tyre etc...).
Hey ho...now...where was I? Oh yes...chilling with a glass of red in a log cabin on the edge of a fjord under a blue sky.
ps. I have 11 days left to get Stu back onto a horse.
Quite honestly I don't know why I have been dreading 50. I had no idea I would get a diamond and see whales - all in the same day (though I do think some of my skin sagged overnight. And my boobs might have dropped a millimetre).
And for the first time ever I get to eat a fish that my hunter-gatherer Stu caught. He's googling how to fillet / de-bone / clean / de-scale it as I type.
And I nearly forgot - the owner of the hotel where we stayed for the past three nights presented me with a bottle of red this morning, as we checked out. I would have given his hotel full marks on Booking.com anyway. But now I won't suggest they get better pillows.
Whales (said in a very excited voice)
We decided to go out with a company based in Hauganes (www.whales.is) - as the boats in Akranes come up that way anyway - meaning more travel-to-whales-area time for them. God it was good. We got the Titanic spot at the front of the boat. So had a great view for the majority of the trip.
We tracked three humpbacks very close to where we set off from. Stu didn't have time to get sick as we didn't move far or very quickly. We were alongside them for a while...time to down the camera and just watch. They were amazing.
And then to top it all we all had a chance to do that sea-fishing thing that men like. I caught sod all. Stu caught a bloody great cod in under a minute.
I want to go back out again tomorrow. Is that excessive?
After the excitement of the whales we ate some leftover pizza very fast, before setting off to our next stop - Brimnes cabins.
The hot tub has been filled, Stu has washed some underwear and the cod has been cleaned ready for dinner (he changed the water before washing the fish).
Lake Myvatn and a second stop off at Goðafoss.
My presents are in a gift bag on the bed behind me. He's more excited than I am. But then he's not 50 tomorrow.
And Iceland are getting a hammering.
It's July and our current hosts are worried that summer is over already. In other words - the weather is the same here as at home.
Stu reminds me every few seconds that it is nearly my birthday - just two more sleeps.
On the subject of sleep - lambs don't appear to need any. They are far too nosy. And their mum's are just plain stupid. If they're on the road ahead of the car - they just run...hell for leather in a straight line. On the road. Then stop. Then look round. Then leg it all over again. After about ten minutes they cotton on and go on the grass.
After one night at Mörk Homestay we set off further to the North East - in the direction of Akureyri (with its heart-shaped traffic lights).
We stopped off at some turf houses en route. But as we're saving pennies we didn't venture in. But I did take a peek. Pretty impressive. I thought they would have mud walls with worms sticking out - but what I saw through the window was far more liveable in.
As we were a little too early to check-in at our next stop (Hjalteyri Hotel) we took a ferry over to one of the islands - Hrísey - as the guidebooks promised hundreds of Ptarmigan roaming the streets (yep...we didn't spot one). Two hours later, 3000isk lighter, we were back on the mainland.
Hjalteryri hotel is pretty nice. With a great view over the fjord. I would have liked to book the penthouse apartment but, apart from the fact is was ridiculously expensive, it was already taken by a german man with BIG hair and his lady friend who wears white (its muddy here).
We drove down to Goðafoss (waterfall of the God) this morning before setting off on 'the road to nowhere'*.
*It was a road to somewhere - but we never got there. We almost did - after two hours of crossing rivers etc. Then we were beaten by a beast of a ford. Stu waded in to check it out. The water was up over his knees. Which was some way up the door of the Kuga. So we headed back. For two hours. Through several thousand river crossings.
Then we watched whales in the fjord.
Remember...just two more sleeps...