The weather in Iceland is unpredictable.
Even the day is sunny in the morning, it may become cloudy or rainy in the afternoon.
It's a good day in the morning. Most clouds melt away, and I could see the blue sky.
The itinerary today is driving. Yes, Driving.
I will drive from the north (Akureyri) to the west (Stykkishólmur).
Thanks to the good weather that I could enjoy the road trip today.
Leaving Akureyri in the early morning, I drive westwards along the ring road. The first part of the attractions are churches. The scene is always good in the sunny day.
Before reaching the first church today, I arrived at a town, Varmahlið.
You could see the roof of the tourist center is covered by turf.
So you may image that the Viðimyri church, Viðimyrarkirkja, is also famous for its turf roof, too.
The road sign is clear. In Iceland, the attraction has a special sign before its name.
If you don't notice the cross on the top, you may consider this church as a normal farm house.
Going to Blönduós, you will find a special-shaped church beside the gas station.
The shape looks like a volcano crater.
I buy a coke and a chips before photographing, but I could not catch a good image of the caldera church.
Maybe I need to find a higher position for viewing.
By the way, the weather becomes pretty hot now.
My favorite church in Icelnad is the Pingeyrar church.
This church was built by stones in the years 1864 to 1877.
Driving along the ring road, you have to turn right into the road No.712.
I see some Icelandic horse. This black horse is nice.
For about ten minutes, you will find the stone church in a wide hill with grass.
I feel peaceful at this place.
By the way, the interior is not open for free, but you could join the guiding tour.
Because I'm alone and there is no other tourist here, I didn't join the guiding tour and only photograph outside the church.
The scenery is so beautiful that I would like to be buried here after death.
There is a information center beside the church. They introduce about Pingeyrar and the history of the stone church.
This map introduce the churches in the north-west area in Iceland.
Saying goodbye to the lovely church, my next stop is Osar.
According to the information from the backpackers, that is a good place for watching seals.
So you may not want to miss it.
Driving along the ring road, the way to Osar is road No.711, and The condition of the road is quite bad.
Before I approach the Osar Hostel, I've already seen the special scene of the sea and river.
The blue colors are different.
I park my car near the hostel, and then walk along the path to the sea.
If you have time, it will be good to stay here for a day.
It's noon now so the seals rest on the beach. It's interesting that they sleep in a row.
But my camera only has the focus of 200mm, it's not long enough to take a clear picture of the seals in the opposite.
It's good that I've seen seals in a very close distance in New Zealand last year.
If you didn't see seals before, telescopes or camera with focus more than 200mm (maybe 300mm, 400mm or 500mm) is recommended.
Although the condition of road No.711 is bad, the scenes are quite enjoyable.
It may be one of my favorite driving experiences in Iceland.
In the halfway, as I eat the chips as my lunch, I meet a tourist.
I think that he is looking for the seals. So when he walk close to the resting area, I speak to him and tell him about the seals around Osar.
He comes from France.
I'm not surprised that I could meet tourists from any other country in the world.
I don't know how long does it take to drive to the end of road No.711, but when the road becomes flat and you see a town, Hvammstangi, it means that the trip is finished.
Returning to the ring road, you could see the snow on the mountains far away.
Precisely speaking, that should be the glacier. I guess the glacier is Langjokull.
It's amazing that you know these mountains and glacier are quite far away, but you still could feel the spectacular of the scene.
I don't take any photo of that scene, for I know it's hard to capture this atmosphere into the picture.
Before passing Borganes, I visit the Grábrók crater.
According to the wiki, there are three craters around this area: big-Grábrók, Grábrók Fell and Lesser Grábrók, but the name Grábrók is always referred to the largest crater. It's about 170m high.
It's easy to climb to the summit via the footpath. As I walk upwards the steps, the wind blows so violently that I could not stand stably, even I'm a heavy man, and I'm a little scared.
In the meanwhile, I recall the craters I've seen in Iceland.
Kerið or Viti crater could be watched very easily. You just park your car nearby, take a easy walk, and then you see the crater.
As for the mountain-like craters in Myvatn, they are pseudo-craters, not the real.
Therefore, Grábrók is the first crater that could let me experience crater-climbing.
Though Grábrók is not as huge as Helka, the feeling of viewing the caldera and lava is still nice.
It's better than doing nothing.
After circling the crater, I meet a tourist at the entrance.
He asks me about the scene on the top.
I say: Nice, but the wind is very strong.
About 3 o'clock, I pass the industry town, Borgarnes, where is the commerce center for a large area of western Iceland and also a transportation center between Reykjavik, Snæfellsnes Peninsula and Akureyri.
Lonely Planet doesn't introduce any must-see spots around this town, and I have to drive hard to visit two recommended towns around Snæfellsnes Peninsula, so I don't stop here and drive towards road No.54.
P.S: the number inside the white circle is the distance between two orange circles. N1 gas station is blue circle No.15, Amarstapi is No.20, Hellnar is No.21-23, and Stykkishólmur is No.34. If you can't see the distance clearly, here is the photo in original size
Snæfellsnes Peninsula is another popular visiting area close to Reykjavik. It's also a good choice to join the one-day tour from Reykjavik, especially for the tourists who only have a short vacation in Iceland.
If you visit Snæfellsnes in the right time, you could see many birds here. The Peninsula includes mountains (Snæfellsjökull volcano), small waterfalls, nice views of the sea, and fishing villages. Amarstapi and Hellnar are the two recommended towns for visiting, and my destination, Stykkishólmur, is the place where tourists take ferry to the Westfjord.
I don't count how long did I drive, but I think it's more than 9 hours as I departed from Akureyri.
When approaching the intersection of road No.54 and No.56, I take a break at the N1 gas station.
I find the information about the distance to Amarstapi on a map.
Though I have driven for a long time, 58m is not a long distance for me.
Therefore, I don't go to Stykkishólmur via road No.56 right now, and drive to Amarstapi.
As I drive westwards, the sun is quite BIG!
Oh, Jesus. I forget that it's not a good time to drive westwards in the late afternoon.
Even I put on my sunglass and pull down the shading board, the sunlight is still shining and HOT!
Yes! It's quite hot. I never felt so hot in Iceland before.
Good weather is not always good for everything, especially at the time that you drive towards the sun.
For about forty minutes, I arrived at Amarstapi.
Amarstapi is a small village where you could see a stone statue as you drive close to the cliff, and I think it is popular for many tourists visit here.
Is this statue a guardian, a soldier, or a spirit?
You could find some birds around the cliff.
And the small harbour is lovely for this small village.
Hellnar is about 5km from Amarstapi.
Before turning into the road to Hellnar, you could see the snow on the summit of the mountain.
Hellnar is smaller than Amarstapi, but there is a hotel here.
These two fishing village is quite similar so Hellnar is not as nice as Amarstapi, only if you want a accommodation.
For me, Amarstapi or Hellnar is just fine, not excellent, because I've seen lots of beautiful scenes in Iceland.
After a short stay at these two village, I drive back to the N1 gas station and go to Stykkishólmur via road No.56.
As I arrived at the Stykkishólmur campsite, my driving journey today is finally finished.
I'm really tired so I don't want to look around the town today.
The campsite is beside the golf club which is the office for the campsite.
The time is perfect now. It's a good time to watch the sunset.
The facilities of this campsite is quite simple.
They only provide toilets and sinks. I don't find the bathroom or other facility.
I find a location around the bushes that protect my tent from the wind blowing.
It's important to keep the tent away from the wind that you could have a warm sleeping in the night.
After that, I climb to the hill nearby to watch the sunset and the view of this town.
You could see the special-shaped church far away.
The daytime in Iceland is quite long, so it means that the night will come very quickly.
This is the first time that I watch the sun sinking so obviously.
I think the driving today should be my longest driving in Iceland.
It's unbelievable that I could drive for such a long time.
Tomorrow, I will take the ferry to the Westfjord.
In the meanwhile, I get a feeling of sadness.
Though I still have a few days in Iceland, I know the end of the journey is oncoming.
Iceland is such a beautiful country that the good time is always not enough.
Attachment：Travelling Route Map
I：Snæfellsnes Peninsula - N1 Gas Station
J：Snæfellsnes Peninsula - Amarstapi
K：Snæfellsnes Peninsula - Hellnar
L：Snæfellsnes Peninsula - Stykkishólmur