Iceland 2009: The West

Tuesday 2nd June: Borgarnes - Flˇkalundur (111 km)

You know you are cycling in Iceland when ... you eat hot dogs as a special treat.

What do the people of Iceland eat? The traditional specialties eaten during the midwinter festival of ■orrablˇt include rot-cured shark, singed sheep head, horse meat and ram testicles. A traditional alcoholic drink to accompany this food is brennivÝn, which has the nickname 'black death'. For the squeamish, we recommend a more normal traditional dish: Icelandic Meat Soup.

When Icelandic chef Hakon Mar Orvarsson won a Bronze Medal at the Bocuse d'Or World Cuisine Competition in 2001, the rest of the world had to take Icelandic cuisine seriously. During our holiday we ate at restaurants four times and the food was always great.

So what do the locals eat? They eat lamb and fish - though not so much cod, which is exported. They eat salads, bananas and skyr. They eat waffles and rhubarb jam. And they eat hot dogs.

Route 54

The man-made objects are the only colourful things in this landscape

Route 56

A volcanic landscape on Route 56


The harbour at Stykkishˇlmur


The peaceful campsite at Flˇkalundur

Karen's diary:

I slept very well until 4.15am and awoke refreshed but physically tired after yesterday's effort. I didn't feel like food so didn't eat enough (or drink enough) and suffered for it later. The road was deserted today - everyone has gone home. We set off at 6.30am - we had to be in Stykkishˇlmur to catch the 3.00pm ferry.

The first 70kms were very hard: dull, boring, cold and windy and we seemed to make little headway. The countryside was rather bleak - long, flat stretches of stones with patches of tussocky grass and a few low shrubs. Everything was a dull grey or a dull brown. The weather was gloomy but there was no rain. After 70kms of slogging we stopped at an N1 roadhouse for a snack - hotdogs and chocolate milk - which restored a little energy. N1 is a chain of service stations - many of them have cafes and some have supermarkets.

From there our route turned inland and headed for a low pass, about 300m high. It was great - the wind had died down and the road surface was good. We climbed up amongst smooth, grassy hills and descended to a strange, volcanic landscape of colourful craters and lava formations. We would have liked to linger but we were in a rush to get to the ferry. At the bottom of the pass we turned right - 18kms to Stykkishˇlmur and for half of it we had a roaring tailwind. We arrived at 2.00pm; there was time to buy groceries and ferry tickets but not enough for exploration or photos. It was a pity as Stykkishˇlmur is a very attractive town, the nicest we've seen so far.

We tied our bikes to a railing on the car-deck and went into the warm, cosy passenger-lounge for the three hour voyage. The cafÚ was open and we splurged on french fries and hot chocolate. The weather was fine as the ferry docked at BrjanslŠkur at about 6.00pm. The camping ground (marked on our map) was nowhere to be found so we rode 6kms to Flˇkalundur on a quiet, narrow, paved road. We saw plenty of sheep; all the ewes had baby lambs and they came in lots of different colours.

The hotel here maintains a campground which is free outside the main tourist season - so we had free camping and free hot showers. The campsite is level, grassy and reasonably sheltered from the wind. The outlook is lovely. It is much nicer than Borgarnes and we are feeling quite happy.