Part Five: Egilsstadir to Höfn
Taking the advice of our hotel host as we left Egilsstadir, we did not use the more direct Route One to our next destination Höfn, which is situated at about five on our Icelandic clock. Instead we headed directly for the coast through the Fagridalur valley in the mountainous southeast corner.
When we reached the ocean we turned westwards to follow the coast-road as it winds its way along a series of fjords, before joining up with Route One for the final leg to Höfn. The scenery throughout was spectacular and at times the narrow road was squeezed between high cliffs and the Atlantic.
You can imagine that with many roads not surfaced, vehicles become covered in mud or dust. When this happens the windscreen wipers cope up to a point but it becomes impossible to see out of the side windows. To cater for this, filling stations have racks of hoses with attached broom-heads freely available and these are much in demand. The colour of our car was white to disgusting according to how long since we had used one of these facilities.
Icelanders are very much into folklore, particularly elves, the hidden people and trolls. Elves are said to be generally kindly disposed, but it is as well not to damage their known haunts, and the hidden people only react badly to those who do not respect them. Trolls are the big worry as they are giant-sized and cruel and it is definitely best to stay well clear of them. As you drive along you will see from time to time carefully placed piles of stones intended for one or other of these folks. We were never quite able to establish exactly the reason but certainly it was to help the relationships along in some way.
Although it attracts many species, the Arctic Tern is the bird most associated with Iceland. It is very highly regarded by Icelanders as for them it is the harbinger of Spring which must be especially welcome after one of their Winters. Many Arctic Terns travel 17000 kilometres or so to Southern Africa and return each year to breed.
They do not welcome you visiting their breeding grounds where you are likely to find yourself suddenly being attacked in a scene reminiscent of the film Birds. Alongside the road around the harbour at Höfn, nests are built very close together on open ground with hundreds of parent terns in close attention looking for an excuse to dive on you as you approach.
Breakfast in Iceland is of the healthy type with a selection of fish, cheeses, yoghourt, preserves, bread, fresh fruit and, nearly always, cod liver oil capsules!