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Búðardalur, Iceland

Thursday, June 8, 2023 - 6:00pm by Lolo
170 miles and 3.5 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


Scary tunnelScary tunnelDay 8 on the Ring Road was definitely our most challenging.

We had spent a nice morning at the Herring Era Museum in Siglufjörður before continuing around the tip of the Trollaskagi Peninsula and south down its western side.

The big winds that McRent had warned us about were upon us at last, making it a tough drive for Herb, as big gusts would actually move the van, sometimes too near a precarious edge. Plus, there were more of those two-way, one-lane tunnels, which were frightening in their own right.

We were hoping to make it a short driving day, staying in the town of Hofsós, where there is a beautiful infinity pool set at the edge of the sea, looking out over Skagafjörður and the islands of Drangey and Málmey, creating the illusion of it being an infinity pool.

Tortellinis in the vanTortellinis in the vanWhen we got there, the winds were whipping so hard we could hardly open the doors of the van. It was pretty cold and unpleasant. Unlike the thermal baths which are about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, this was a heated pool, set at about 87 degrees.

We stared at the pool for a while, trying to size each other up, as to whether anyone wanted to go in it, but there were no takers.

Damn. This was my plan for today. Now I wasn’t sure what to do except just head to our next known destination which was Kirkjufell on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, about 4 and a half hours away. There was no way we were going to make it all the way there today, so we figured we would just start driving towards it and find somewhere to stay along the way.

In about an hour, we were back on the Ring Road in the town of Blönduós, at the mouth of a glacial river. In hindsight, we should have stopped there. It had already been a long day, and this town did have a campground.

Trampoline FunTrampoline FunI don’t know why but we decided to continue on.

Then things got even worse. For some reason, Google had us turn off the Ring Road on Road 59 and start heading north along the western edge of a fjord that we had just come down along the east side of.

Still things seemed pretty okay, until the road turned to gravel and continued to be gravel for the next 20 miles or so. Sometimes Google seems to think that the best route is the shortest one, without taking into consideration the road quality. We should have just stayed on the Ring Road even though that would be more miles to our planned destination.

Where you going Paul?Where you going Paul?I was really upset that with all my planning I had gotten us into this mess. Everything had gone so perfectly up until now. If I had only used the Nat Geo map rather than Google, I would have seen that this was a gravel road.

All I knew was that we were headed towards a village called Búðardalur, population 266, but it did have a campground and other services like gas. Seemed like the only option for us at this point.

The town was situated on the Hvammsfjörður at the north-eastern end of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, putting us in good position for our drive to Kirkjufell tomorrow.

Across the heath to HvammsfjordurAcross the heath to HvammsfjordurWe got in around 7:00 and found that the campground's grassy field had been blocked off because it was too wet and campers might get stuck, so we parked in the gravel parking lot instead. Hilda and I went to check out the showers, or more correctly shower, and it was very dark and depressing. We decided we were clean enough and went back to the van to cook dinner.

It was tortellinis with pesto and some veggies that night, which was actually quite good.

After dinner, I felt unsatisfied with our action level for the day. All we did today was a Herring Museum and lots of stressful driving. I suggested we go for a walk, even if it was already close to 10 pm. It never gets dark here in the summer, so what the heck.

Must be a troll's houseMust be a troll's housePlus, I needed to pull myself out of my bad mood from feeling that I had screwed up today, so I tried to put things in perspective. What would I be doing if I was home now. Probably cleaning up the kitchen and watching some TV. Instead here we were in a tiny Icelandic village about to wander across a heath to a fjord in the land of the midnight sun. Not bad.

Not long into our walk we discovered a large trampoline. It was the birthday party Paul and I had dreamed of. Paul and I hopped around like we were eight year olds and managed miraculously to not hurt ourselves.

Búðardalur HarborBúðardalur HarborNow that we were all fired up, we couldn't just go to bed, so we decided to hike to that amazing little red-roofed structure in the distance, even if we had to trudge across some pretty marshy land. I have no idea what the purpose of this tiny structure was, but it sure was picturesque.

10:15 and still light out. I guess it hadn't been such an uneventful day after all.

One more walk to the Troll HouseOne more walk to the Troll HouseBefore leaving Búðardalur the next morning, we took one more walk out on the heath to the bluff overlooking the Hvammsfjordur fjord.

That little red-roofed structure at the top of the bluff kept drawing me in. Three of the main Icelandic Sagas (Laxdæla Saga, Saga of Eric the Red, and Eyrabyggja Saga), which were written way back in the 12th century, are all set in Búðardalur. I bet a troll lives in that building and has cast a spell drawing me back to it.

So, what I thought was going to be a real dud of a stop, turned out to be really fun. When would I ever again wander around in broad daylight at 10 pm and jump like I was a kid again on a trampoline in some remote tiny Icelandic village, or wander through a marshy landscape to a picturesque structure overlooking a beautiful fjord.

Up to today, everything had gone so perfectly, right down to the fantastic weather and the magical appearance of rainbows whenever we needed them, but sometimes it’s the unexpected, unplanned bumps in the road that can turn out to be pretty damn fun.

Búðardalur location map in "high definition"

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