Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hótel Hellissandur, Hellissandur, Iceland

Slept just fine, though woke up at 11:45 to a repeating rolling and banging crash. I first discerned if I was awake (yes), and figured out what the sound was (fireworks) and by the time my foot hit the floor to check the view it had finished. Bastard fireworks.

I woke up in the morning with two phone calls – the first from my dad at some early hour asking if I was ready for breakfast (I declined and went back to bed), then later saying that the Hertz car guy was there to pick us up (I directed him to my parents and went back to bed).


After eventual brekkie and re-packing we packed into the car and went back into center city. I picked up a slew of yarn for full-on cheap and we hit the settlement museum. It’s way high tech with table-top touch screen computers with ghostly figures wandering through old longhouses and clobbering seabirds (really).


(A mini longhouse)

It was culture day (which explained the fireworks) and there was a marathon going on. Cars got stuck at the crossroads where the runners were crossing and had to either wait or do u-turns.


(I just don't get running)

We bought some burgers from a grill set up on the sidewalk and started the drive up to Hellissandur. Some wrong turns, weaving roads and roller-coaster hills led to landscapes that I can only call “Colorado plus ocean.” Stark, yes; desolate, yes; charming, oh, you betcha.


The roads can be tricky – animals aren’t shy about, well, sitting smack dab in the middle. We nearly smacked into three sheep who decided that it would be very good, thank you, to pass right in front of our car.

Sheep brazenly crossing the road

(Sheep in the road)

Then there’s a stretch of road – with a warning sign, mind you – on which arctic terns like to chill. Their nests must be nearby and they must really enjoy the feel of concrete beneath their little toes, because they gravitate towards that road like it’s their job. And they’re not so good at getting out of the way of cars, unfortunately.

(not shown)

Finally we arrived at one of the tinier towns you’ve ever seen. Hellissandur, and its neighboring town Rif, containing a whopping 580 people. Total. There’s one hotel in Hellissandur which contains the one restaurant. We were checked in at the desk by a woman with a buzz cut save a tuft of hair fountaining out the back.

Hellissandur hotel

(Our very charming hotel)

We walked along the beach, though some fields for a while before returning back to our sparse rooms.


(The edge of Hellissandur)

Drinks and dinner in The Restaurant, where the gentleman serving us was charming, and they played the same song over and over again. One song. “My Way.” Played poorly on the piano. Over and over and over. It was impossible to tune out and made us laugh (with some hysteria) every time it re-started.

The white-splotched cliff is where arctic terns nest

(I'll give you three guesses as to why that cliff is white-splotched. Click on the picture for the answer).

Now I’m in my room, watching the sun setting slowly over the sea (at 9:30pm) and watching “The Matchmaker” on TV (there are a whopping four channels and no paid movies).


For the record, in this tiny little Podunk town in Iceland I get full cell phone reception. No wireless internet here, though. Pah.


(The town of Hellissandur. The whole town of Hellissandur.)

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