A 4 month tour through Northern and North-Eastern Europe
This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.
We made an early start Wednesday morning to make the most of our second day in Iceland. By 9 we had hit the road, planning to camp in Vopnafjordur after a hike up to Hengifoss, Iceland second highest waterfall.
It was going to be another hot day so we we're glad to be hiking the 2.5 km steep trek up to Hengifoss before the afternoon heat as we we're fully kitted up so hiking in our bike gear (we trusted our fully loaded bike would be fine parked up). The rough and steep pathway got the heart pumping and the views were breathtaking. We were particularly impressed by Litlanesfoss; a shorter waterfall halfway up. The descent went a lot easier and we were pleased to find all our stuff will still on the bike on our return.
So we hopped on the Guzzi and hit the gravel road along the lake to our next destination; Vopnafjordur. Along the way we spotted a wild reindeer so we stopped for a photo. Unfortunately it had scurried off by the time I had my camera out. As we wanted to ride off, Greg realized something wasn't right and as I hopped off our suspicions we're confirmed: we had a flat tire!
On a tour such as ours you know there is a good chance this happens so Greg had brought a puncture repair kit so we could at least make it to a garage. There was only one problem, we couldn't find the hole. There were no foreign objects in the punctured back tire and we could only find innocent looking nicks. I finally managed to find the culprit and we got to work fixing the thing. Luck wasn't on our side as we struggled to fix it up as described but eventually managed to get something in place. Our hopes we're soon shattered when Greg released the inflation has into the tire: there was a second hole just below the one we had just filled, successfully may I add :-)
With no more repair kit left we had to admit defeat and decided one of us would have to hitchhike to the nearest village to arrange a trailer and bike garage. This wasn't as simple as it may sound as we we're on a rather isolated road with very little traffic. The bits of traffic that had trickled through we kept missing because we we're busy with the self repair or just taking a leak. We finally managed to flag down some kind German travellers who gave Greg a lift to a petrol station where he could sort out a trailer while I stayed with our stuff, playing Angry Birds on the side of the road. Within no time Greg had returned with backup and the bike was loaded on to the trailer on we were all driven to the nearest garage with motorbike tires, which was luckily the town a few miles down the road: Egilsstadir. The mechanic informed us he didn't have the right tire in stock but not to worry as he could have one flown in from Reykjavík by the morning. He then kindly gave us a lift to the local campsite where we enjoyed the evening sun.
So, all in all an eventful day! We are counting ourselves lucky as things could have been much worse. We could have been somewhere more remote, it could have been cold & wet, we could have been robbed again, or even crashed (we saw a biker crash into a car while waiting at the garage. Also, we did need a new back tire and we're planning to book the bike along the way.
We can pick the bike up at noon Thursday so, assuming all has been sorted, we will soon be back on our merry way. If this is the worst thing we encounter we will be very lucky indeed!
This morning I went to check on the bike, the tire had been flown in and fitted, I also got some new back brake pads fitted, which was all done quickly and with a smile. I then thanked them with my best version of thank you in Icelandic!
We then packed up and headed off as it was already super hot. I must mention I have yet to see the sun set or rise and it has not been dark here once yet. I will have to stay awake one night and find out...this might not be too difficult as we always seem to get a few massive bumble bees in our tent that buzz around for hours, if you are lucky you will get two, in stereo! Damn it is loud when they are inches away from your ear. Lucky our tent has a section with netting to sleep in so they can't quite reach us but it was disconcerting the first time it happened, almost like a weed eater next to your head.
So anyway we plotted our route, checked we had enough petrol, put correct air pressure in the tyres and I cranked up the preload on the suspension to stop it bottoming out on the big bumps caused by the weight of the luggage and both of us. The big guzzi must weigh around 230kg add another 20kg of fuel and then about another 30 to 50 kg of luggage and bits and it becomes a heavy beast.
I always wondered how one would go about picking it up if it should fall over. Now as most people will know I don't do much at work, except maybe watch YouTube, so I had watched how to pick up a bike, ride it offroad, repair punctures etc and this has come in very handy. Now it's been about five years since I came off a bike, well today it happened again, although this time Jennifer got the full experience as well.
We were heading down the main ring road, route 1, which was well paved and we then turned off onto route 85 towards the small fjord village of Vopnoforjdur. We cruised up over the snowy mountain and then down towards the sea, the view was splendid so I decided to pull over for a photo, which you want to do in Iceland every few hundred meters as there will be some spectacular waterfall or feature, but you need to restrain yourself or you won't get anywhere. Anyways long story short, when I tried to stop the bike on loose gravel the front end started giving way, lucky we we're only going at walking speed, I tried to steady the beast by taking some weight on my leg by putting my foot on the ground but it didn't help, I think I shouted to Jennifer to jump as the bike hit the ground. I was thrown off and Jen was thinking her legs would be trapped under the bike but the big givi luggage boxes broke the fall. We both ended up on the roadside. After checking Jennifer was ok I put out the side stand and we rolled the bike over and let gravity drop it onto the stand. Lucky we were going so slowly there was just a few scratch marks on the luggage and the bike was fine.
That was embarrassing, lucky only one car came past and they slowed to see if we we're ok. Made a mental note to not do that again ;-)
So we got to our destination and setup camp at the empty campsite. The village is small, can't be more that a thousand people here. The lady at the info centre said they we're not open for the season yet, but we we're welcome to camp and make ourselves at home, so free camping and the facilities are all clean and adequate, nice.
As the weather is so damn good, we decided to braai. We bought some meat which we guessed was beef in marinade and had a feast with the left over rum from the ferry.
The village has a small fish processing plant, which I guess most people work at and is the main livelihood of this place. It is tucked into the bay and has a natural harbour from the rocks. The mountains opposite us are all snow capped with waterfalls gushing down to the dark sea, caused by the melting snow.
We spent the night here after trying to get a swim at some hot springs 12km down the road,but they we're closed. So this morning, Friday, we will continue on route 85 around the peninsula past Kopasker down to Asbyrgi and find a campsite on the way. Where we will do some hiking in the massive horse show shaped crater that hides a lush forest in it. Well that is the plan but so far nothing has gone to plan and anything can happen :-) guess that is what adventure is all about. Not sure when this will get posted as we need to find some wifi. Have a good weekend. Below should hopefully be some photos.
07.06.2013 - 09.06.2013 20 °C
We haven't had much opportunity to blog so there is lots to update you on. Therefore I'll have to keep it short or this entry will go on forever...
We headed to the horseshoe-shaped Asbyrgi canyon which is 3,5 km in length and 1 km in width. Our campsite was at the start of this wonderful place. The myth goes that this peculiar yet spectacular canyon was created when Sleipnir, Odin's flying 8-legged horse, accidentally touched earth and left the good print. The scientific explanation is less fun so I chose to believe the Sleipnir reasoning ;-) We went on a 8km hike through the canyon, admiring the huge walls on either side. At the end we climbed the wall and admired the downward view, which is equally as spectacular. Later on in the evening we went for a shorter trek to the end of the middle 'island' where we admired the view over a cup of wine. Because of the 24-hour sunlight we can make the most of our days, and watching the movement of the sun is very interesting. Luckily we are not having any difficulty sleeping through the lightness as we're usually completely knackered by the end of the day!
On route to our next stop, lake Myvatn, we rode through Husavik which is known for whale watching. We managed to spot a few distant whales although we didn't hang around very long. As we we're riding out of town we spotted a natural hot spring. After concluding it was safe we whipped out our costumes and went for a gorgeous dip. It was quite an exciting moment.
We set up camp right on the waters-edge at Myvatn, a large lake which has a unique ecosystem which miggies thrive upon. So everything was covered in the harmless black flies, and the massive swarms we're unavoidable. It's a pain in the beginning but you swiftly get used to them. Also, well be encountering lots of mosquitoes in northern Scandinavia so it was good to get some 'practice' in. From our base-camp we had a camping day exploring the area:
1 We rode out to see Dettifoss and Selfoss waterfalls. The actual walk to these beauties was through thick snow.
2 We viewed the wonderfully weird fissures (steaming vents) which reeked of rotten eggs thanks to the sulphur.
3 We took a quick peek at the Krafla geothermal powerplant.
4 We hiked up the amazing Hverfell crater. Greg was actually made enough to make the steep trek to the middle of this huge marvel of nature.
5 We ended our evening by taking a relaxing soak in the Nature Baths which are soothing, healing and ridiculously hot (even though they are chilled as naturally the water bubbles up to 80-100 degrees)
On our way out of Myvatn we visited 2 things we hadn't been able to see the day before. Firstly we stopped off for an hour's trek around Dimmuborgir which is a unique lava field containing lava rock formations and caves which. Afterwards we went to see the pseudo craters which were caused by underwater steam eruptions. We then hit the hit to Akureyri, Iceland second largest urban area although it has less than 18.000 inhabitants.
We have had a truly amazing time visiting so many iconic Icelandic treats. It's all those things you associate with Iceland from tv and books, but to experience it in real life is something else. It's not just about the seeing, it's the feeling, the hearing, the smelling... Sorry I've had to keep it short and can't add links, I would recommend you Google some of these wonderful things for some more information.