Hvalfjörður 2

These are Instagram photos I posted during a serial hike along the coastline from Reykjavík to Hvalfjörður. I think these are from the second hike in the series.

#utivist #hike #hiking #hvalfjörður #iceland #landscape

A post shared by Jo (@icenetla) on

#utivist #hike #hiking #hvalfjörður #iceland #landscape

A post shared by Jo (@icenetla) on


My VW Caddy in Hvalfjörður

Although it is a very simple, clean look (only until you get closer: white cars are a nuisance to keep clean), I think the Caddy looks a bit plain with the original white paint job. I would like to get some tasteful decals to decorate it, but I don’t want it looking like it belongs to a rental company. Right now, of course, it looks like one of the things it was designed to be: a delivery van. Maybe I’ll use some of my photos, or perhaps some drawings? Decisions, decisions.

The mountain is called Þyrill.



I’ve said it before: I think barnacles look like little houses and clusters of them like villages or cities. Just look at these:



This village also has some high-rise buildings:


The Anvil – Steðji (Staupasteinn)

Iceland_road_sign_E02.61.svgThe peculiar rock in the photos below is hidden in a small vale on the south side of Hvalfjörður, a short drive off the main road (turning right). It is marked as a place of interest (see the sign on the left) and the road-sign sign says “Steðji”, which means “Anvil” and is one of several names for it. Others include “Prestur” (“Priest”), “Karlinn í Skeiðhól” (the Old Man of Skeiðhóll) and “Staupasteinn” (literally “the rock on which goblets are placed”, although I think the “a” was probably inserted to make it easier to say the name rather than to indicate plurality, so Goblet Rock is probably a more correct translation). It used to be a stopping point by the highway, but must now be sought out specially. It has been a protected natural monument since 1974.

Unusually for a lone standing rock, it is not considered to be a petrified troll (although the Old Man… name seems to indicate that perhaps it was once seen as such), but rather the home of a friendly elf hermit named Staupa-Steinn. Incidentally, the American TV series Cheers was called Staupasteinn in Icelandic, a very suitable name for a bar, and in fact you can find at least one bar of that name in Iceland. It, however, postdates Cheers and is probably named after the TV series and not directly after the rock.

From this angle, it looks like a slightly misshapen goblet, a fist or perhaps a tree. What do you see?



I wonder what other nationalities would call it? Seeing it from this angle I am pretty certain an American would call it the “Catcher’s Mitt”.



Seen in a wider context:



When I am heading north and I’m not in a hurry, I often take the Hvalfjörður road instead of the tunnel that goes under the mouth of the fjord. The tunnel is faster and cheaper, especially if you buy discount tickets or are a subscriber, but the route is very scenic and worth taking if the weather is good. It takes about 40 minutes longer to go around the fjord rather than under it, but there are compensations. For one thing, the road is fun to drive, especially the part that weaves and undulates like a roller-coaster. Also, the landscape is just fantastic. If you’re not in a hurry, you can birdwatch, or pick mussels, or take a walk (or a mountain hike). The area is also rich in history and of considerable interest to World War II enthusiasts.

There is also a Saga connected with the area,  Harðar saga og Hólmverja (The Saga of Hörður and the Islet-dwellers), and a number of places around the fjord take their names from it, including Harðarhólmi (an islet that is correctly called Geirshólmi), Helgusund and Helguskarð. In my opinion, this Saga should be titled Helgu saga hugrökku (The Saga of Helga the Brave), because Hörður was not much of a hero (by modern standards) while Helga (his wife, by the way) was as brave and noble as they come and saved her two sons through a heroic swim followed by a hike over a steep mountain and then used considerable cleverness to get sanctuary for them. Maybe one day I’ll retell that part of the Saga here, but first I’d need to get good photos of the locations where the story took place.


This is a view from the south side:



And here is a panorama.

I made the panorama with the free online panorama-maker Dermandar (click to see full size):


 This is not bad, considering the service is free, although the shoreline bulges somewhat in the middle.

As you can see, there was almost no wind that day, a rare occurrence in Iceland, a country that could very well have ended up being named Vindland (Windland).


Þyrill is a beautiful and striking mountain:


More from Hvalfjörður tomorrow.