I described in my post before last, the drive from Hvammstangi to Blönduós in the north of Iceland. In this post I continue the journey on to Akureyri.
I’d been watching the road conditions on the Hringvegur (Route 1) between Blönduós and Akureyri for some weeks. The reason being that I’d driven the road across the mountains to Akureyri on my previous visit to Iceland. I remembered the road as being challenging, and with snow and ice on the road along with the threat of blizzards, I was a little nervous to say the least. It was along this road that we encountered a truck surrounded by debris, clearly from a collision, and a pick-up truck off the road down a steep ravine. The man’s screams are still with me. Thankfully there were many people on hand and as we picked our way through the broken glass, a bumper and a few other bits and pieces, I could see blue flashing lights in my rearview mirror indicating a dose of morphine was on its way to hopefully relieve the man of his pain. We’d driven on in silence for many miles..
Talking to the owner of the cabins we were staying in at Hvammstangi, she suggested we take the road around the fjord and through the tunnels rather than across the mountains. I was quite happy to take her advice besides, I’d wanted to revisit Siglufjordur which would now be on route. This was where we saw the northern lights on our previous visit to Iceland.
As we set off from Blönduós it was getting on for lunchtime and we were both in need of a break so we took a detour. One of the beauties of going your own way is that well, you can go your own way. We saw a sign for a place called Hólar, the mountains in that direction looked inviting and with a hint of sunshine here and there, we took the turn.
Finding ourselves in the small village of Hólar we were surprised to see such a large church and even more surprised to find the village had a university. Hólar University College specialises in aquaculture and fish biology, equine studies and rural tourism.. Figuring any university worth it’s salt would have a refectory offering reasonably priced wholesome fayre, we wandered in.
There was absolutely nobody to be seen, it was the university equivalent of the Marie Celeste. There was plenty of evidence of people being there at some point but they’d simply vanished. We could smell food however so we pressed on down the highly polished corridors, following our noses, literally, we soon found the refectory. We were greeted by a chef in whites, clearly enjoying a break and a cup of coffee at one of the empty tables. She explained in broken English that we could help ourselves to the buffet lunch for 1000 kr. This is about a fiver or 7 bucks which by Icelandic standards, makes for a cheap lunch. She didn’t explain the empty dining room..
There were various salads and a big cauldron full of a meatball type casserole/stew with chunks of potato and various vegetables. It was indeed wholesome fair and despite the fact that we seemed to be the only ones in the entire university, bar the chef, with this lovely buffet laid on for, well, us I assume given there wasn’t anyone else about, it was a memorable lunch, with an even more memorable view from the windows of the refectory.
Setting off once more, bellies full and happy, the sun deserted us and all I could see ahead of us on the road was a wall of white that was all too familiar from our drive to Hvammstangi.. there were blizzards ahead. It was going to be an interesting afternoon. The road as it turned out was as challenging as the one I remember going the other way only more so with the icy surface and snow.
The snow showers were sweeping in from the sea and as we wound our way around the fjord, the showers were coming thicker and faster all the time. It wasn’t long before all photography became impossible. All that could be seen was few metres of road ahead. We were in our own little snow cocoon. We had no option but to press on, we checked in with 122, the Icelandic emergency services who would log our position each time we pressed a button on my mobile phone. Our five most recent positions would be logged giving a direction of travel. It was so reassuring to know that if something should happen, we would be located easily. I knew I wasn’t going to be seeing Siglufjordur or anything much else again for the rest of the day.