Wednesday. ‘Welcome home to Hölar!’, we are greeted in this way by Bjäkk, our tour guide for this morning. This is the traditional welcome for all people, no matter where they come from, or where they are headed, for Hölar is regarded as home to everyone.
We breakfast early on cereal, fruits, yogurt, cheese and salad – the Icelander’s definitely know how to do the first meal of the day. This is followed by a leisurely hour in the blissful heat of the outdoor swimming pool watched over by cloud covered peaks and the cathedral tower. The cloud soon clears leaving sunshine for the rest of the tour.
Bjäkk – for ever after known as the fish man from Hölar – introduces us to the history of Hölar cathedral, the sometimes gruesome history and it’s artistic splendors which include a very exquisite carved soap stone baptism font signed by the artist with ‘angel faces”.
He then show us a restored and a reconstruction fo Icelandic turf roofed houses, and takes us on to learn of his aquaculture research, showing us round his aquarium and explaining the limited diversity of Iceland’s freshwater fish. There are only six types of freshwater fish and three are arctic char, salmon and brown trout. Bjäkk goes on to explain how despite this, with the differences of rocks and lava formations beneath the surface, it is possible to have variations within species even with the same lake or river.
By one o’clock we are saying goodbye to the City of Hölar and are back on Route 1 and going travelling around the perimitre of the country.
Faced with ever changing scenery of stunning proportions – lava fields to lush revenues or grassy plateaus – we next stop briefly at Akureyri – Iceland’s second metropolis. We get an opportunity to explore the shopping precinct and stumble into a child’s baptism in the church whilst Chas and Sara gather further provisions from the local supermarket.
As we head off towards Husavik, we leave behind clouds and journey into clear blue skies and warm sunshine – if also a cool, and sometimes bracing breeze.
bv5185.n3At six-thirty and with conditions that are of about two in the afternoon back home, we arrive at our campsite at Vesturdalur and strike camp. With homes erected we make drinks of coffee and hot chocolate and wak up the cliffs to survey our territory. From a high outcrop of rock we can survey first our camp and the ranger’s hut sitting in a garden of green behind a dry stone wall, overshadowed by flag poles and surrounded by the desolation of a dried up river bed – like a zulu encampment waiting for the cavalry to attack. From here we can also see when when Chas returns with the van and trailer with further provisions nadn the mess tent.
All is action again as one group make the night’s supper, another erect tables and chairs, and a further group struggle (easily) to make the mes tent fit in the area between the bushes.