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Topic: ...to Iceland [very many and mostly photographs]  (Read 3465 times)

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Daniel Kalal
It's pronounced Goot-see
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Years Contributed: '07, '08, '09, '10
Years Supported: '11
Motorcycles: Guzzi Daytona, Guzzi Stelvio
GPS: Kansas
Miles Typed: 959

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« on: September 08, 2016, 10:05:39 PM »



Several years back, I wondered what it would take to ride the roads of  Iceland.  The answer was “more time than I had” and I put the notion  aside.  This year, it was time to revisit that question.  If I  need more time; I'll take more time.
 
This will be a ride of Iceland.  I'd first planned to circle the  island-country mostly along the ring road and figure the rest out, along the  way.  But, after checking for an available room in Seyðisfjørður (where  the Denmark ferry lands) and seeing how limited the choice is, I realized that I'd  prudently need to do more planning for this trip than I've ever done.
 
I made advance  reservations for every night around the island--flipping a mental coin to  decide that I'd go clockwise after landing.
 

 
I'd have one week to get around Iceland (to allow for the once-per-week  ferry schedule).
 
It's useful to have some idea of how the distances  compare with something I'm familiar with.  Below is Iceland  superimposed on Kansas.  Seven days to get around?  That doesn't  look so difficult even accounting for possible poor roads and bad weather.   Missing the return ferry would really be a nuisance.
 


I've had a couple nights to adjust to the time zone; it's time to go riding.
 
The blue bag contains my helmet, boots and a small air compressor.   All of that stays in Mandello.  The yellow duffle-bag is what I brought  (as checked-baggage).  It contains another (smaller) yellow duffle-bag,  my riding suit, tools and all the other stuff I'll need while riding.
 
I'll dump both bags on the floor and repack into the smaller duffle-bag,  which is then strapped to the passenger seat (no bungee cords are used).   Nothing is on the rear rack except my Spot tracking device (which generated  the tracks you see in the top map).  I don't  use saddle-bags.  The air compressor fits into the tool tray under the  seat, and I strap the tools I need to the handlebars.  The blue bag and  larger duffle-bag will stay behind when I ride north.
 

 
I'd been over Splügen Pass once before, but it has been several years.
 

 
This is one crazy road. Zigs and zags and hairpin turns  inside a tunnel.  Nuts!
 

 
For all the difficulty of the road, you have to be amazed that a town as  large as Prestone is here.  I don't imagine the towns people just “pop  down” to Colica to buy some detergent that often.
 

 

 

 
It is cold, wet and very windy at the top.  The Italian flag is  blowing straight  out.
   
 
Switzerland
 
The Swiss side of Splügen is comparatively ordinary; a looping ribbon of  road that isn't really so crazy as what the Italians had to do.
 

 
Why are we stopped?  I never did figure this one out.  Best I can  tell, there were just too many cars for the tunnel that narrowed down to two  lanes.  Creep, creep, creep.   Add a little rain and it's less  fun.
 

 
Liechtenstein
 
Schaan, Liechtenstein.  I've been through here a number of times and  knew of this hotel.  It's a pretty good one, with a nice restaurant.
 

   
 
   Austria
 
Lauterach, Austria.  Through a quirk of political geography, the  eastern bit of Lake Constance is in Austria, so you cannot drive from  Switzerland to Germany without going through Austria if you're on the east  side of the lake.
 

 
Germany
 
I didn't need to rush too hard through all of Europe to get to Denmark, but I  didn't have the option of meandering through the back roads the entire way,  either.  So, I split the difference: a few  hours of autobahn with  pleasant roads on occasion.
 

 
Klosterlechfeld, Germany exists because of the church (and monastery).
   
 
Germany really does bakeries well.  I don't know the name of what I  bought, but it's very good.
   
 
The lock and latch to the front door of the church is an interesting thing.
   
 

 
It is amazing how widespread St George is.  This is the town of Georgensgmund,  which has an appropriate sculpture of St. George and his poor,  perpetually-being-slayed dragon in the middle of their roundabout.
 

 
I like the roads that have good pavement, but are too narrow to support a  centerline stripe (Germany has standards for this sort of thing).  They get  you someplace, but there's nothing but local traffic.
 

 
That's a stone house.  Remarkable.
 

 

 
Frauenaurach.
 

 
Mursbach.
 

 
The road I am not on.  Even when you wouldn't think the valley was so  deep as to require a viaduct, there likely will be a viaduct if it's part of the  autobahn system.
 

 
Ebeleben.  I'm on my second detour, I believe.  Often when  construction is being done, the entire road will be closed and you'll need to  follow the detour signs (if they exist), which might put you tens of miles from  your route.  It's also possible that this detour will also have a section  closed, so you'll be running quite far from where you thought you were going.   Such is how I arrived at Ebeleben for the night.
 

   
 
   
 
I'm not sure what is being prohibited; playing in the street, perhaps?   Under those fried unions and chopped potatoes is a nice piece of pork.   The waitress (who is also the hotel landlady) recommended it to me.
   
 
Toba.  I'm riding north, back on one of the good roads.
 

 

 
Boitzenhgen.  I'm heading north towards the Elba, but still curving far  enough east to avoid the congestion of Hamburg.  There are not many  crossings of that river, so you need to pay attention to the map.
 

 

 
These windmills are...
 

 
...far more attractive than these wind turbines.
 

 
Bad Bodenteich.  Try to spot a car that is not a Volkswagen in any of  these towns.  You probably won't find a single one.  I'm near  Wolfsburg (the home of VW).  Volkswagens are everywhere.
 

 

 
The River Elbe.  There is another (much larger) ferry on the west side  of Hamburg, but I've been on that one, and I've not been on this one.
 

 
When you cross the river, you're in what was once East Germany.
   
 
Boizenburg.
 

 
Dalldorf.
 

 
I was impressed by this barn (and the relaxing cattle).
   
 
Neumunster.  Some of these cities take an effort to get through cleanly.   When you avoid the larger highways, you sometimes have to contend with the  occasional congested city that gets in the way.  Such was Neumunster.
 

 
Schleswig.  Today I've made pretty good progress, and as it's  raining, I think I'll stop just before the Denmark border (even though Schleswig  was once Danish).
   
 
That's the Schleswig Cathedral (Lutheran).  Construction began in  1134.  Buried within is the body of Frederick, King of Denmark, the  Vends and the Goths (died 1533).
    
 
Being a mirror image of your photographer--whenever I'm riding, this is  how I'm dressed.  Including the riding suit, I've got on five layers.   In the picture, I'm not wearing the polartech pull-over or the electric  vest, which would bring the layers to seven (six layers is the most I ever  needed.  I didn't ever ride with the polartech pull-over although I  used it for walking around).
   
 
It's curious that the center of town (where you might expect to see a  market square) is a cemetery.
 

 
Fish (and some form of pea soup) is on the menu.
     
 
It's always nice when the rain stops in the evening.
 

 
Flensburg.  The last government of the German Third Reich--led by Admiral  Dönitz--was located here (ending May 23, 1945 with the surrender).
 

 
Denmark
 

 
This was the second service station--none will accept my American cards  at the self-service pumps and I've got to find one with an attendant on a  Sunday.  Bother.
   
 
Silkeborg.  I am running through the center of the country, pretty well  avoiding the freeway.
 

 
The rain is heavy when it's raining; but, when it stops, it's quite nice.
 

 
Tvilum Kirke.  This is part of a monastery founded in thirteenth  century.
 

 
Germany road signs are yellow.  Denmark signs are red.
 

 
Farvang.
 

 

 
I don't really need fuel, but it's raining so hard that I think I'll stop  for some road food, just the same.  I've learned that even if it's  raining so hard you cannot see, it won't last long.
     
Laurbjerg.
 

 
That church was built in the mid nineteen century even if it looks much  older.
   
 
They've an interesting custom in this cemetery: small birds on the top of  the headstones.
 
 
Hirtshals wasn't much until the harbor was enlarged to support ferry traffic  to Norway and Sweden (and Iceland) after the war.  It's at a strategic  location, so you'll see large concrete gun positions slowly decaying into the  sand.
 

 
My hotel is close to the water and not far from the ferry terminal.   I'll be leaving tomorrow morning.
   
   
 

 
I'll have fish to start with, and then I'll have the fish.  Tak.
     
 

 
Compared with the Italian ferry I took earlier this summer to Spain, this  ferry company is an amazing thing.  They're organized, give clear  instructions, are friendly and (most important) are efficient.
 
Cars and motorcycles are pre-assembled.  When the ferry arrives,   we'll go through the pre-check area and assemble in the appropriate lane.   Some cars and motorcycles will be departing at the Faroe Islands, so it's  important that they be loaded last.
   
 
The ferry has arrived, and does a nice turning maneuver before backing  into the loading area.
   
 
Motorcycles load first and are sent all the way to the forward bulkhead.   Straps are provided, and we're admonished to “tie your bikes down, well.”
 

 
I watched this other ferry thread the needle into the harbor.  After  it has cleared, we'll be passing through that same opening and out into the  North Sea.
 

 
Looking back at Hirtshals and looking forward to the open sea.
   
 
My cabin is all the way forward, and the window looks towards the bow (which  is still beyond what you see in the photograph).  I don't think this is the  best place to be in rough seas.  It was not.
   
 
The ferry is clean and quite pleasant, but immediately it's difficult to  walk in a straight line.  This might be a rough two days.
     
 Follow that bird to the Faroe Islands...

 
Shetland  Islands
 
I'm not sure why, but on the east-bound leg, we passed the Shetlands on the  south side, but on the west-bound leg, we crossed on the north side.   Perhaps that's a way to keep the shipping lanes manageable.
 

 
That's an Irish coffee (if you ignore the whipped cream).  I think  they've missed an opportunity by not offering a Faroe (or Denmark or Iceland)  coffee by using whatever fermented drink is native to the Faroes (or Denmark or  Iceland)--and, then use real Icelandic cream.
   
 
Faroe  Islands
 
The intrepid on deck looking forward to arriving at the Faroe Islands.
 

 

 
Tórshavn is the capitol and only town of any consequence.
 

 

 
The boat I'm on is the only ferry that does this route.  I gather  it's common for tourists to stop at the Faroe Islands, and then wait for the  ferry to return (either to Iceland, or back to Denmark).  It looks like  and attractive place (notice the Viking long boat in the cove).
 

 
I didn't get off the ferry; we are not here that long.
   
 
Iceland
 
I wasn't able to see the approach to Iceland, we were commanded to go  below to the vehicles.  While motorcycles were the first to load, it  would take longer to unload as we had to wait for the cars to first clear  the way to the ramp.
 

 
Seyðisfjørður.  I'm looking back to the ferry, which is still unloading.   It's raining.  No matter; I'm happy to be in Iceland.
 

 
Very low clouds.  It's either raining, or I'm just riding inside a  cloud.
 

 
I'll get used to views like this in the days to come.
 

 
Egilsstaðir.  I think I'll stop at this coffee shop (that's actually  some sort of Chai Latte drink) to wait out the current rain and to figure out my  next move.  I'm heading south, but there are a couple of ways to do that.   It looks like most of the traffic that just came off the ferry is taking  Highway-1, so I believe I'll take Highway-92, instead.  Eventually, both  roads converge.
   
 
After two days on the ferry, it's nice to be on the road once again. Mostly,  it's just a heavy mist, so not really too bad.
 

 
This tunnel is 3 1/2 miles long.  I'm sure the mountain it runs through  is impressive, but I couldn't say; I never saw it.
 

 
Nice looking farms.  None of the buildings on any of the many farms I  saw ever looked much older than this.
 

 
This is Stöðvarfjörður.  Not only is it raining (a lot), but it's now  cold and windy.  I'm stopping at this coffee shop to warm my hands on a  real cup of coffee (Chai Latte won't do the trick this time).  I'll also  put on my electric vest and plug in for some quick electric heat.  I'm  wondering what I've let myself in for.  As it turns out, this is the worst weather I'll see for the entire week.  I'll  never need the vest again.
 

 
When it's raining, I don't want to bring my camera out.  But, it  stops enough that I can take a moment.
 

 
Not all of the National Ring Road is paved, but Iceland is working at it year  by year.  I think in dry weather I wouldn't even much notice this to slow  down, but when it's raining, this isn't much fun.  Thankfully, it was never  as slippery as it appeared.
 

 
I'm sorry I missed the opportunity to take photographs of the coast road  (due to rain).  I was reminded of California 1 (but, without the  trees).
 

 
The flood plains are huge.  There's no water here, now, but it's clear  that in years past, there's been a serious deluge.
 

 
Pavement requires material that isn't found on the island, so sometimes  the road (I'm standing on it) is super-compressed gravel (similar to  chip-and-seal, but never slippery).  It works.
   
 

 
Near Höfn.  This is my first scheduled night.  I arrived in the  rain, but that stopped for the evening, so I was able to walk around.  Many  hotels in Iceland are converted boarding schools (as is this one).  In the  summer it's a hotel; out of tourist season, it's a school.  It does have  the feel of a dormitory, but it's clean (if a little worn).  The showers  are down the hall.
   
 
The view from the hotel.  Yes; those are glaciers coming down the  valley.
 

 
Icelandic sheep and Icelandic horses.  This is the only type of  horse you will see.
   
   
 
Dropping into Höfn the next morning.  You've seen rows after row of  beef jerky at an American convenience store?  Here it's dried fish.   Who's to say which is healthier?
   
 
I don't think rain will be much of  problem today.  The  temperature is perfect and this is mostly the way it will be the rest of the  trip.  I like cool weather, best.
 

 

 
If you look at that map of Iceland at the top of this report, you'll see  the large ice cap along the southeastern side.  What you see below is  just a small bit of it.
 

 

 

 
Many of these roads and bridges are recent things.  None were here  before around 1950.  At least not paved and manageable by an ordinary  car.  This long bridge, like nearly all the bridges, has only a single  lane.  The longer bridges have occasional pull-out areas, the others,  you need to be aware of any traffic that might be on the bridge when you  approach and who has the right-of-way.  On a motorcycle, it's much less  of a concern.
 

   
 
Everywhere, water is pouring off the cliffs creating waterfalls and  creeks like this one.  This scenery is (un)common.
 

 

 
Kalfatellsstadhun.  Sheep, crops (grain), horses.  That seems  to be the order of things for many farms.
 

 
Traffic was never an issue.
 

 
Do not hit the sheep.  I believe they have the right-of-way.
 

 
Each turn of the road opens up something new.  It's always changing.
 

 

 
The big ice is always “just over there.”  You feel it.
 

 
Glacier ice breaking into the river.  This is moving quite a bit.   The flow isn't high enough for the ice to get out to the ocean (at least not  this time of year), so it just circles around in the bay, always moving.
 

 

 
I've no idea what sort of bird that is, but that's a 1989 Moto Guzzi  Mille (and its proud owner from the Netherlands).
   
 

 
People do hike (and drive) into the interior on the ice, but they had better  be very well prepared.  Help will likely come from you and nobody else.
 

 
Ice and mountains.  It's elemental.
 

 
This is what the Vikings saw.  It hasn't changed.
 

 

 
I wasn't expecting such long, flat stretches of road.
 

 
Skaftafells Jokull.  There's a one mile trail that takes you to the  front of the glacier.
   
 
Of course I filled up with pure, fresh glacier water.  Drekka vatn!
   
 

 

 
In a certain light, the green cover was extraordinarily bright.
 

 
A vast lava field with a soft layer covering it all.
 

 
I wouldn't walk too far on this as you really can't tell when you'll  break through into a deep crack in the ground.
 

 

 

 
Icelandic horses are known to have more gaits than your typical horse.   Apparently, they're quite comfortable to ride for great distances.   There were many places that offered horses to ride, but I never took the  opportunity.
   
 

 
The self-service pumps were a real problem since American cards are  generally not accepted.  Thankfully, a widely available station “N1”  offers a cash card that can be used at all their stations.  I bought  this 10,000 Kroner card and my problems were ended.
     
 
I had reservations at this guest house south of Kirkjubæjarklaustur.   You can't easily see it, but there's a gravel road that leads right to it.
 

 
My room was a small bedroom, and nothing more, but the rest of the house  was plenty roomy.  It also had a full kitchen that was used by other  guests (but not me).
   
 
The view from the guesthouse.
 

 
More sheep. More Icelandic horses.  Both are friendly.
 
 
 

 
Walking several miles through the open fields in the evening.  You can still see  some of the old buildings, but they're quickly reduced to the elements.
 

 


Kirkjubæjarklaustur.
 

 

 
Kúðafljót River

 
Vík í Mýrdal is the most southern town in Iceland.
 

 
The black sand beaches near Vik are always mentioned in guide books, but  you don't expect it, just the same.
 

 
Should volcano Katla let loose (at it last did in 1918), this town is in the  path of the expected large flood from melted ice.  This church might be the  only building that will survive.  During training, the townspeople practice  rushing for the church and higher ground.  They are prepared.
 

 

 
The Reynisdrangar basalt sea stacks.  I'm told that two trolls had something to do  with their creation--or not.  Icelandic trolls can be  good and very  bad.  You definitely don't want to mess with them.
 

 
Puffins!
 

 

 
Black basalt sand.
 
 
 

 

 
The church at Reynir.  This is where Reynir-Bjorn arrived from  Norway around 900 AD.  There has always been a church here.
 

 

 
The Dyrhólaey Nature Reserve.
 

 

 
Skógafoss.  I've got time.  Let's have fish (soup),  followed by fish.
 
 
This is one of the more classically beautiful falls you'll see.
 

 
This land is made for waterfalls.
 

 
Hvolsvöllur.  The rooms are small, but very clean.  The  breakfast buffet is amazing.
   
 

 
Gullfoss.  The water drops across two slashing steps in the canyon of  the Hvítá river.
 

 

 
 Þingvellir,  the “Parliament Plains” is a National Park.  The nation's general assembly  was established here in 930.  This is also where the Atlantic Ridge comes  through.  You could say that Europe is on one side and North America is on  the other.
 

 
Lögberg - the law rock is here (somewhere) along the Almannagjá fault.   The Law Speaker would proclaim the laws of the Icelandic Commonwealth each year.
 

 
Reykjavik is the largest city in Iceland, and mostly where everybody lives.   The core of the city (where I stayed) might look like a small town, but this  core is surrounded by a modern city.
 

 
I found a good place to park, just outside the entry door.  That  green building outside my window?  Another pub.
   
 
This is an easy place for walking.  I do wonder, though, how many native  Icelanders I passed on these streets.  It almost seems the entire world is  here, but (perhaps) the locals have gone elsewhere.
 

 
The hotdog might be the national food (after lamb and fish).
     
 
Through my open hotel window I would occasionally here cheers from the  street (I'm on the 4th floor).  There are several bars/pubs nearby, and all  of them have the Liverpool match on the television.  This one (below)  even has an outdoor screen.  Put your head inside and you'll see most  people wearing red.  Why is Liverpool so popular around here?  Of  course, the local Iceland football team is by far the most popular thing  going.
   
 
I had a difficult time getting to my hotel as many of the streets are for  pedestrians only, and the others are one-way.  In the end, I rode down one  of these pedestrian streets to get there (it didn't seem possible, any other  way).
 

 
Classic Scandinavian buildings, but these are all made from corrugated  steel.  I doubt that any are very old.
 
 
 
Hallgrímskirkja is the largest church in Iceland (Church of Iceland,  Lutheran).  The design was commissioned in 1937, but it was not completed  until 1986.  The design of the tower is meant to be reminiscent of basalt  lava flows (of the sort we saw earlier).
 

 
I arrived just in time to buy a ticket to a performance on this organ by  Christoph Schöner
 

   
 
The works selected were thundering things meant to show off the power of  the organ (and the skill of the performer).  In particular, The Brahms  “variations on the Choral St. Antoni” had the large ten-meter pipes vibrating  your body.
 


 
 
The pews have reversible backs, so the audience was all facing towards the  rear of the church (at the organ).
 

 

 
Attractive modern buildings...
   
 
...and at least a few old ones.
   
 
Not far west of Reykjavik, the ring road dives under an inlet through a  tunnel, cutting off quite a few miles of the old road.  The weather was  looking fine, so I took the old road along the coastline.
 

 

 

 
Borgarnes.
 

 

 
The settlement museum gives a good overview of the settling of Iceland as  well as some of the old sagas from the day of the Vikings.
   
 
There was a noticeable increase in traffic within a thirty mile radius of  Reykjavik.  Beyond that, things return to the empty stretches of road that  I've become used to.
 

 

 

 
At times the rain was quite hard, but mostly I was riding in a steady  drizzle that seems more typical of Scotland.
 

 

 
Hvammstangi is on the Miðfjörður fjord, a few miles off the ring road.
 

 
Since I hadn't stopped as often as I might have if the weather was  better, I arrived pretty early.  I'll sleep with a sad seal looking at  me.
   
 
Arriving early is good; It'll give my warm gloves a chance to dry before next morning.
 

 

   
 

 
The Icelandic Seal Center sponsors seal research and conservation and has  a good museum of the old seal industry.
   
     
 
What's for dinner?  Lamb.
     
 
Throughout Iceland, you'll find very nice swimming pools and hot tubs.   Seemingly, no matter how small a settlement, they'll find a way to build a  pool.  The water is naturally heated, and comes straight from the  ground without any chlorine added.  For this one, my hotel key gave me  free admission, but the cost is never that high.  On a cold winter's  day, I can't imagine anything better, and it's not so bad on a cold summer's  day, either.
 

 
Friendly rock-folks saying hello.  What's Icelandic for “hello”?   Halló.  A sign post, miles from any settlement, is kept warm.
   
 
Riding north.
 

 

 
Saudharkrokur.
 

 

 
Hofsós.  The population is less than 200, but their pool is amazing.   Have a hotdog (with unknown stuff).
   
   
 
Riding the north shore.
 

 

 
That's a 15% grade.  You might want to slow down before going airborne  over the top...
 

 
Keep going that direction and you'll pass over the north pole before landing  in Russia.
 

 
Perfect riding weather.  This is a spectacular place.
 

 

 
You can see the entrance to one of four long tunnels in this area.  The  older ones are only a single lane wide.  There are pull-outs within the  tunnel.  You need to be aware of which direction has the right-of-way.
 

 
Siglufjörður.
 

 
Looking back towards Siglufjörður.
 

 
This newer tunnel (about 3 miles long) has two lanes,  which is nicer.   Before the tunnel?  You'd be on that dirt road to the right.
 

 
Ólafsfjörður.  Let's stop for a break.
 

     
 
Akureyri is the largest city in northern Iceland, and the fourth largest city  in the country.  For all that its population is only 18,000.
 

 
Fjord Eyjafjörður.
 

 
I misread a sign and rode ten miles down this unpaved road before stopping to  check the map.  Oh well, it's a pretty area.  Turn around.
 

 
Góðafoss.  In the year 999, Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði (the law  speaker) proclaimed Christianity to be the new official religion of Iceland.   He tossed all his statues of the Norse Gods into these falls, and that's  where the name comes from (falls of the gods).
 

 
Þingeyjarsveit (Laugar).  This is a rather large boarding school.  I  had more beds in my room than I really needed.
   
 
Every evening's routing:  wash yesterday's things in the sink and  charge batteries.
   
 
It's such a nice thing, these warm pools.
 

 
Lake Mývatn.  The name means “midges.”  Small black flies that  are not pleasant.  I kept my helmet on when walking about.
 

 

 

 

 
Geothermal activity is everywhere.
 

 
Námafjall, Hverir geothermal area.
 

 
You can walk out there if you want, but if you fall in, it's your fault.
   
 
 Krafla Power Station produces 60 megawatts and was completed in 1977 (with  expansion projects since then).
 
 
 
Krafla Caldera.
 

 
Ódádhahraun Lava Field.
   
 

 
Tour busses parked while people walk the path to see Selfoss and  Dettifoss.  Not many years ago, the roads on both sides of the river to  the falls were unpaved.  Today, it's paved to the parking lot.
 

 
Selfoss.
 

 

 
Dettifoss is the largest waterfall in Europe (measured by power).  Not  only are these falls large, but the ground vibrates.  You feel it in your  chest.
 

 
As with many of these locations, if you want to be stupid, you can be  stupid.  You'll see few barriers beyond the simple rope line next to  the pathway.
 
A one-way suspension bridge over the Jökulsá á Fjöllum.
 

 
In the morning, I had every intention of taking the longer coastal road  instead of the ring road, which cuts across through the inland region.   But, some of that road is unpaved and since it rained all night, and is  still lightly raining this morning, I decided to stay on the ring road.
 


Iceland does have trees, but they're not especially large, and you won't  find any around here of any size.
 

 

 
 Crossing the Jökulsá á Brú.
 

 
Egilsstaðir.  This is where I had that Chai Latte a week ago.  I'm  back, but coming from a different direction.
 

 
Lamb soup is what is offered.  The rich, yellow Icelandic butter  reminds me of Jersey butter.
   
 
Looking back for a high view of Egilsstaðir and Lagarfljót (Lake).   You've got to first climb this hill (there's more behind me) before plunging  down to Seyðisfjørður.
 

 
Seyðisfjørður, once more.  I've come through the same cloud layer  that was here when I first arrived.
 

 
I had a room reserved for the night; they are very limited.  Most  people taking the ferry are staying in Egilsstaðir (over the hill), but this  is a more interesting place and it makes it far easier to have a relaxing  breakfast while you watch for the ferry to arrive.
   
     
     
 
Mostly, in Iceland, you'll be eating lamb or fish (or hotdogs).  Tonight  I had  fish at the Aldan Hotel Restaurant (the best of the entire trip).
   
 
It's a glorious day.  The ferry has arrived, and it's time to strap  the bike down for the two-day journey back to Denmark.  One strap over  the seat is really all that's necessary, but I added one more on each side,  in case an Icelandic Troll steals aboard.  The gloves are there to protect the seat.   I strapped my helmet to the passenger seat using the same straps that  normally secure the yellow duffle bag.
   
 
Motorcycles load first, and then there's a long wait while everybody else  loads.  Far to the rear, you'll see a few more motorcycles.  Those  are the ones that will be getting off at the Faroe Islands.
 
Our ferry flies the Farroe Islands flag (Tórshavn is its home port).
   
 
Sigh... Why couldn't I have had days like this during my ride?  No  matter; the days were fine enough.
 

 
Unlike the rough seas when I came to Iceland, the trip back was calm.
 
Norway
 
Sunrise over the southern coastline of Norway (looking through my cabin  window).
 

 
 " alt="" height="54" width="71">  Denmark
 
 Time to unload.  Many of the bikes that were on the ferry with me going  out, are also with me coming back.  I don't know that I've seen so many  overloaded motorcycles in one place.  To the left of me, the right of  me, and in front of me:
 
     
 
That BMW to the right of my motorcycle toppled over just after I took  this shot.  Luckily, it fell to the right and not to the left, in which  case it would surely have taken mine down with it.  The owner was  unscathed, and with multiple hands we put the thing back on two wheels.
 
Viborg.  The name comes from the Old Norse words for “holy place” and  “fort.”
 

 
I stayed at the Palads Hotel.  My usual routine to find a hotel works  well: ride to the  center of the oldest part of town, park the bike, look around for a hotel  that looks interesting.  This won't work in the United States.
   
 
Clearly, this isn't a peak tourist day, nor time of day.
   
 
The Viborg Cathedral dates from 1130, but this current building dates only  from the nineteenth century (and is now Lutheran).  I think bits of the  crypt are all that remains from the original.
     
   
     
     
 
 
Straight, verticl walls are rare.
   
 
Maintenance:  1) Check the tire pressure, and inflate as needed  using the small air compressor.  2) Tighten the exhaust collector  flange bolts, which will come loose (after which the engine sounds like a  Briggs and Stratton and has about as much power)
   
 
Running the back roads through central Denmark.
   
 
It's a great morning.
 

 
Vejle.
 

 
Christiansfeld.  This town was founded in 1773 by members of the  Moravian Church.  It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 

 
The Moravians put down the streets in a regular grid.  They were not  (and still are not) much for unnecessary embellishments.
     
 
The pulpit is deliberately not at the head of the room, that wouldn't be  showing proper humility.
 

 
Germany
 
I am back to the land of schnitzel and potatoes as the standard menu item  (and chocolate milk).
   
 
Erdbeeren field (strawberry).
 

 

 
Verden an der Aller.  I was intending to ride south along roads I hadn't  been on before.  I pulled into Verden to look for a likely hotel, but on  seeing that cathedral knew “I've been here before.”  Well, the last time I  entered from the south, and this time I entered from the north, so that's  different, at least.
 

 
This is about as strikingly modern a hotel as you'd expect to see.   It's as if they'd rather not even put up a sign for fear it might detract  from the look of the thing.  The bed has blue glow-lighting around the  perimeter that would come on whenever I put a foot down.  Clever.
 
 
 

 
Dom zu Verden was built starting in the twelfth century (these things take a  long time to complete).
 

 
St Andreaskirche.
   
   
 
St. Johanniskirche.  Next to the kirche is a monument to Jewish citizens  of Verden who were sent to the death camps (along with which camp they were  sent).
   
 
I know a labyrinth is meant for meaningful contemplation of higher things  and not puzzle solving (as with a maze), but really, there ought to be at  least a slight challenge to the thing.
 
I did wonder what the internal floors and walls to this house might look  like.  The leaning is so severe, that surely they'd have to do  something to keep all the furniture from sliding to one end of the room.
   
 
Lippstadt.  What's this?  It's the headquarters of HELLA KGaA Hueck  & Co.  They're the supplier to Moto Guzzi for the driving lights that have  been the bane of all Stelvio owners.  “High quality” is not normally used  to describe these lights.  “Hell” means “bright” in German.  Should I  demand to speak to the engineers?  No; I guess not...
 

 
Anröchte.
 

 
Berghausen.  I'm now running south on some pretty small roads.
 

 
Reiste.
 

 
Menkhausen.
 

 
Bracht.
 

 

 
My favorite roads: great pavement, but no center stripe (which usually means  no traffic).
 

 
Diez.  It's near a time for stopping, and this looks like a fine  place to stop.
 

 
My room was more a studio apartment than a hotel room.  It      embarrasses me to say that I had to ask the landlady for a bath towel, and  she smiled and pointed to the large flower on the bed.  Oh...
     
   
 
The view from near the top of the Count's castle.
 

     
 
Beer and Schnitzel and potatoes.  Of course.
   
 
Behla.
 

 
I'm on the southern border.
 

 
Switzerland
 
Rheinfall.  I'd earlier seen the most powerful falls in Europe, but you  might ask what falls are the largest if you don't include Iceland as part of  Europe?  That would be Rheinfall.
 

 
It's only when you notice the people (and two boats) that you get some  idea of how big these are.  Even so, they're not anywhere near as  thunderingly scary as Dettifoss.
   
 
After the falls, the Rhine will behave itself all the way through Cologne and  then to The Netherlands and the North Sea.
 

 
This is something of the national soft drink of Switzerland.  It's  not especially anything to go out of your way for, but I always have a  bottle when I'm here.
 
 
There's an old rail tunnel through part of the Alps starting in  Kandersteg that I've never been on.  That's where I'm heading.
 

 
That bridge carries the tracks as the rails work their way up the valley.
 

 
Kandersteg.  There are no roads that can cross the mountain.  The  train tunnel is the only way south.
 

 
I keep track of my position on this laminated map so I'll have some idea  of getting back to Mandello on the right day.
 
     
 
It's an art gallery with only one subject.
   
 
I guess I'll have the Rösti.
     
   
 
Lotschbergtunnel was dug in 1913 (with a cost of thirty-eight lives).   The cars enter from the rear of the train and drive from car to car, all the way  forward.  Passengers stay in the car for the duration.  Motorcycles  are in the most forward car, and therefore load first.  Ropes are provided,  but the ride is so smooth, they probably are not required.
     
 
I wanted to catch the exact moment when the train entered the tunnel.   The tunnel is nine miles long and takes twenty minutes to get through.
  
 
 The southern end.  From here the road winds all the way down to the  Rhone Valley.
   
 
I've been on many of the Alpine passes of Switzerland on previous trips,  but have somehow missed Furka--perhaps the most famous of them all.  I'll do that  now.
 

 
The ride up the valley seems a sensible start, but then the valley ends  and the road starts to get serious about climbing.
 

 
Looking back, that's Grimsel Pass on the right, and the start of Furka   on the left.  The memorial is a good reminder not to be stupid; there's  nothing to be gained.
   
 
It cannot have been easy to build these roads.  Very likely, foot paths  have been here for centuries.  You can sometimes see the old trail across  the valley.
 

 
At the top are the old barracks once used by the Swiss Army (watching for  invaders).  Today, some of these buildings are used for high Alpine  scientific work.
   
 
It's not really a classic pass, is it?  There's a valley on each  side of these mountains, but getting across from one to the other is hard  work.
 
[img]http://www.dankalal.net/2016trip17/photo1011.J
« Last Edit: September 09, 2016, 10:38:30 AM by Daniel Kalal » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2016, 10:07:15 PM »

A bus and a truck were head-to-head on the road with not enough room for  them to pass by each other.  There was barely enough for my motorcycle  to get by, but cars were stacked up on either side and stopped.  I'll  assume the drivers worked something out, but I kept riding.  How do you  convince a whole stream of cars to back up?
 
 
 
The next obvious route would be to cross south to Italy over St. Gotthard  Pass, but I've been on that one enough.  Instead, I'm going to cross  over Oberalppass at Andermatt and then turn south across Molare Pass, which  I haven't been on in several years.  I like it better, anyway.
 

 
I stopped for the photograph (above) and then notice that both my driving  lights are hanging down, held in place only by the electrical wires out the  rear.  Revenge of HELLA.  This is why I carry extra zip-ties.   If you check earlier pictures of the bike, you'll notice that the lights  look fine.  This probably happened today (although the now-failed bolts  were slowly cracking for many miles).
 
 
 
Dötra.
 

 
The Ticino River Valley.  I'm still in Switzerland, but you wouldn't  know that by the names of the towns (and rivers), nor by the language that is  spoken by everybody (Italian).
 

 

 
Italy
 
Lago Lugano.  Heh; the fact that cars are doing their best to pass me  along this shoreline drive tells me I'm now in Italy.
 

 
Menaggio.  I'll catch the ferry to Verenna across Lake Como here.
 

 
Lake Como and Verenna in the distance.  I guess it's appropriate that I  finish my trip with another ferry.
   
 
The Gelateria in Mandello del Lario.  It's the best.  The  motorcycle is returned and I've repacked everything into the larger yellow  duffle-bag.
   
 
Evening in Mandello del Lario.  That's Onno across the lake.
 

 
Arrivederci, Mandello.
   
 
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« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2016, 11:01:43 PM »

Spectacular report Daniel. I know I'll come back to vicariously relive Iceland many times. Thanks so much.
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« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2016, 12:31:04 AM »

Tremendous landscapes and scenery.  Thanks for posting another great ride of a fascinating, far off place.
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« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2016, 09:46:14 AM »

Dammit. This has been on my list for two years now. SOMEDAY I´ll get my chance!

I was surprised to see so many bikes on the ferry. I didn´t think it would be that popular to take the two-day ferry, rather than fly ´n´rent (costs not being considered heavily here, of course).

I´ll have to take a more careful read of your return, but I see that you were in Kandersteg. When were you there? Dan and I were there on August 28th and watched the cars unloading from the train while we waited for our own train. Of course, we weren´t go anywhere but home after a day´s hike in the mountains Smile
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« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2016, 10:03:20 AM »


...Dan and I were there on August 28th ...


We were close.  I was there the evening of August 23rd.
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« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2016, 10:40:31 AM »




We were close.  I was there the evening of August 23rd.


We really ought to plan these things. Although I also understand that having time constraints can be a really bummer.  Wink
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« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2016, 11:26:09 AM »

Quote
This newer tunnel (about 3 miles long) has two lanes,  which is nicer.   Before the tunnel?  You'd be on that dirt road to the right.

 

Do they usually leave the old road, or is it blocked off from general use?




Also... YOU'VE NEVER BEEN ON FURKA PASS BEFORE THIS?!?!?!?  EEK!
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« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2016, 11:35:06 AM »

Do they usually leave the old road, or is it blocked off from general use?

It looks like nothing is ever blocked off.  I'm sure it would be a spectacular route.

Quote
Also... YOU'VE NEVER BEEN ON FURKA PASS BEFORE THIS?!?!?!?  EEK!

Yeah... I had been across the parallel Nufenenpass just south of it, but not (yet) Furka.  But, now I've done all those well-known passes around Andermatt.
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« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2016, 08:25:54 PM »


   Hail  WOW!

(I hope ST.N is paying you for this?)

This report belongs on a disk, for sale.
If I was a geography - history teacher it would be shown in my class.

Daniel, thanks for sharing.  Thumbsup

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« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2016, 09:53:25 AM »

Great pictures as usual Daniel.    

I am now starting to think about my next big trip with Sue for next year and Iceland is on the list of options. I will definitely get her to look at your pictures.    

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« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2016, 10:53:02 AM »

Awesome. Thanks.
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« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2016, 11:02:46 AM »

Good stuff!  Thumbsup

I'm wondering why you decided against just renting a bike in Iceland.
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« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2016, 11:59:34 AM »

Quote
I'm not sure what is being prohibited; playing in the street, perhaps?


Nothing. It's the traffic sign for the end of the 'Verkehrsberuhigter Bereich' (and thus also of its speed limit of 'walking speed' and some other traffic laws only applicable there).
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« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2016, 05:40:07 PM »

Fabulous trip and wonderful report! I have longed to do a  moto trip to Iceland since spending two days there when our cruise was forced to skip the Shetland Islands due to a storm.
With six layers on I find that it's a real struggle to get my damned helmet buckled because I can barely bend my elbows.
Thanks!
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I see what you did there.




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« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2016, 09:48:22 PM »


Good stuff!  Thumbsup

I'm wondering why you decided against just renting a bike in Iceland.


Because riding there from Italy would be fun.
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« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2016, 06:41:46 PM »

Nice trip, I'll never get there - so thanks for reporting on it.
I looked at most, but admit was overwhelmed by the number of photos.  
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« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2016, 11:34:27 AM »

Brrrrrrr

This post has me thinking COLD just by looking at the Pictures
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« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2016, 10:14:22 AM »

I really enjoyed that. Both the writing and photos. Has me dreaming of trying to ride in Europe again.
Thanks for taking the time to post so much.
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« Reply #19 on: December 28, 2016, 01:39:52 PM »

Great write up and pictures. Brought back many memories..I was 17, in the Navy and was stationed at Keflavik
For about a year..the base is gone now. 😢
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