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We woke up on the morning of our final full day in Iceland in Grundarfjörður, a tiny town of 910 in the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Day One of our roadtrip brought us around the Golden Circle route, while Day Two led us up and around Snæfellsnes. Day Three would bring us full circle around the peninsula and back to Reykjavík.

We had spent the night at Hotel Framnes, a sweet dockside inn. Grundarfjörður has a dramatic natural settling but frankly the town itself is not as picturesque as Stykkishólmur. Walking through the town was the first evidence we saw in Iceland of country coming out of a deep financial crisis just five years prior.

We had a lot of miles to cover on this day so we got an early start. However, once again we were not in the car for ten minutes before we pulled over to explore.

What caught our eye were some old ruins in a field. Normally a family of sign-obeyers, we were emboldened to ignore the “No Trespassing!” warnings by a pair of bikers who were doing the same. It was absolutely worth it.

It didn’t take us long to realize that though the bikers had left we were not alone. A few sedate but curious Icelandic horses were trotting right over to us.

We quickly made friends.

This morning of trampling around ancient ruins and being approached by semi-wild horses with no fence between us and anything stands out to me as one of the highlights of our trip.

My mom snapped this picture with her iPhone! This would be a good place to mention I am insanely envious of all you iPhone users, but side rant: When are they going to make an iPhone with a keypad? I would totally be in line days ahead of time with the crazies in order to get my hands on that.

Our next stop was Ólafsvík, another quaint Snæfellsnes town of less than a thousand residents. Here we marveled at yet another surreal and modern church set among hundred year old houses.

We also stopped by Pakkhús, a museum and general store selling local crafts. We shopped up a storm and left the little old ladies in charge giggling furiously as we tried to communicate without a word of shared language.

Our final stops on the north side of the Snæfellsnes peninsula were Rif and Hellisandur, sister towns I was interested in visiting purely to see what populations of 140 and 390, respectively, look like. Like the other towns in the area, we found charming architecture, futuristic art, and historical buildings. But there was one unexpected surprise — posters advertising an electronic music festival in the area sponsored by none other than Heineken.

As we started curling through the west side of the peninsula we caught first sight of the Snæfellsjökull Glacier the most iconic landmark in the region, and one we had a date to explore that afternoon.

We were in a time crunch at this point but made time to quickly visit the black sand beach Dritvík. From the 16th to 19th centuries over 60 fishing boats were stationed here, and today the remnants of an English tawler wreck from 1948 are found along the sand.

Also found along the beach are a set of “lifting stones” which fishermen once used to test the strength of aspiring apprentices. The stones range in weight from 50 to 120 pounds, which tells me all I need to know about my potential for a career in commercial fishing.

Our arrival at the south coast of the peninsula was marked by waters so blue they could have been Caribbean, if not for the surrounding moss-covered lava fields and maritime churches.

One noteworthy stop was at Ytri-Tunga, a cove known for being drenched in friendly seals in the summer months. Unfortunately we must have scared them away because when we arrived there was one lonely seal in the distance.

But our big destination for the afternoon was Arnastapi, not so much a town as a collection of summer cottages. Here we had a quick lunch and gathered excitement for what would be our final Icelandic adventure.

But that’s an event that really deserves a post of its own — reaching the summit of the Snæfellsjökull Glacier by snowmobile. Stay tuned!

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48 Comments...
  • bristol
    September 17 2012

    Haha who uses keypads anymore?

    Iceland is so picturesque its amazing. You must have been in photography heaven

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2012

      I really was! But yes I need those darn keypads! I take a lot of notes and answer emails on my phone while I’m traveling, and I just can’t fathom doing it on the iPhone touch screen!

  • Huynh
    September 17 2012

    Really nice photo’s.

    Huynh

  • Kelly
    September 17 2012

    Beautiful pictures, as always! The colors are unbelievable. I would love to visit Iceland someday. Sounds like you and your family had a great time.

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2012

      This was definitely a trip we will always remember! I’m so lucky I have a family who lets me drag them to all these crazy locales…

  • icoSnap
    September 17 2012

    Totally beautiful photos 🙂 I’m excited to read more of your blog. And thanks for the info – I’m going to Iceland probably next year or so. BTW I’ve added you on my fave links 🙂
    icoSnap recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2012

      Thank you so much for the compliment, and I’m glad you’ll be reading more! Thanks for adding me to your faves, I’m flattered!

  • Chrystal McKay
    September 17 2012

    Beautiful. I won’t lie – Iceland looks like a fairytale world to me. Its just to perfect in its cuteness; one story buildings, fields of green, pointy churches. Perfect!
    Chrystal McKay recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2012

      Iceland definitely has a surreal, fairy-tale like feel to it! I adore everything about it, clearly!

  • Ashley
    September 17 2012

    All these posts about Iceland are making me want to book a flight to Reykjavik!

    I’m also with you on the Iphone thing, I need a phone with keys. Iphone 6, maybe?
    Ashley recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2012

      Like I said, I’ll be camping out with the crazies if they ever do it! I fear they won’t though because it won’t look sleek enough. But function over beauty for once, please!

  • Elaine Burr - Gram E
    September 17 2012

    +
    Beautiful, and as interesting as always. You spice up my mental life. Gram E

  • Sarah Somewhere
    September 17 2012

    There’s those dang horses again!!! Gorgeous! You images are so crisp and clear and I can just about feel the fresh air. Looks like you had you had a beautiful time with your family, what an awesome trip together that you will never forget!
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2012

      I feel so lucky that my whole family loves to travel 🙂 My mom announced on this trip that she didn’t see the point in leaving us an inheritance… she’s rather use it all to travel with us instead! Ha. I told her that’s just fine with me!

  • Sarah Somewhere
    September 17 2012

    P.S Meihoukai, I can’t seem to tweet your posts!
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2012

      Well thank you for trying! 🙂 Hmmm, maybe the problem fixed itself because I see some others have tweeted it and I seem to be able to from the share buttons…? Ugh I don’t understand the internet.

  • Hannah
    September 17 2012

    Best. Photos. Ever. Put me in line to buy prints of your horse shots – I love them all! Did you use your Canon S100 for any of these? I’m about to buy a new camera this week before we head to India – still trying to decide what to go for.
    Hannah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2012

      You know the quality is so similar between the s100 and my dSLR that I had to go back into Adobe Bridge to see which camera I used for these shots! Believe it or not all of those first horse pics (the ones without me in them) were taken with the s100! I can’t recommend it more. Oh and if you do end up buying it and doing it through my affiliate links I’ll owe you a drink ! 🙂

  • Rickshaw Run Diaries
    September 17 2012

    Meihoukai, you have such a gift for making the already beautiful seem even more so. Your photos are all absolutely stunning 🙂
    Rickshaw Run Diaries recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2012

      Thank you ladies! I can’t wait to see your photos of INDIA!

  • Haha Sarah took my comment, I was going to say wahooooo the horses again! Seriously, what gorgeous photos!!!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2012

      Lol, I’m going to get a reputation here! These are the last of the horses, I swear 🙂

  • Gaelyn
    September 18 2012

    You put together a great story enticing us to Iceland. I’m sure that “no trespassing” sign wasn’t meant for you other wise why would those awesome horses have greeted you.
    Gaelyn recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2012

      Haha, I like the way you look at things 🙂

  • Dad
    September 18 2012

    Really cool pictures. When you are on the Big Island you will find more black sand

    • Meihoukai
      September 18 2012

      And green sand too, I recently learned!

  • Stephanie
    September 19 2012

    I just stumbled across your blog whilst looking for another place to travel to…i love your travel blog and have spent hours and hours on it (whilst actually i was meant to be working)…you are living my dream! I really admire you, it takes a lot of courage to leave everything behind and go do this on your own. I love travelling and photography, and i do work to travel but havent gotten the courage yet to leave on my own and travel for such a long time and give up everything at home.
    Cant wait for your new pics and posts!
    Take care,
    Steffi

    • Meihoukai
      September 20 2012

      Hi Steffi! Thanks so much for commenting! That courage will come… start with small trips and baby steps and maybe someday you’ll realize you’re ready for a big solo adventure! Or maybe not, it’s not for everyone and that’s okay too 🙂

  • Soffía
    September 20 2013

    I’m glad you travelled Snæfellsnes, my hometown is Ólafsvík but I’m currently living in Reykjavík while I study at University of Iceland 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      September 25 2013

      I stopped through Ólafsvík! We talked about what it would be like to be from such a charming small town. Now I know someone who is!

  • Kelly
    December 18 2013

    Hello, I am going to Iceland in March with one other person. How hard was it to figure out a driving path through the smaller towns you visited and how far in advance did you book your hotel stays outside of Reykjavik? We would like the freedom of a self tour, but not the confusion. Thanks for the blog post!

    • Meihoukai
      December 20 2013

      Hi Kelly! We just booked a GPS with our rental car and I don’t remember having any issues — everything was very straightforward and well marked. I think we booked the hotels a few months ahead but to be honest I can’t really remember. It’s definitely very easy to do! Best of luck!

  • Ross
    January 10 2014

    Great photos. Iceland is so picturesque.
    Ross recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 10 2014

      Thanks Ross! Iceland is stunning, it is easy to photograph!

  • Michelle
    March 2 2015

    2 questions:
    1. Where did you rent a car from or I guess what company did you go through?

    2. When you start planning a trip where do you go? What sites do you go to? What apps do you use?

    I love your blog! I just got a job with an airline so I plan to travel a lot. And I’m thinking about starting a blog. But I’m nervous. I’m not a great writer. Anyways, you’re awesome!

    • Meihoukai
      March 3 2015

      Hey Michelle, I can’t remember who we rented the car from — I’m guessing we just went on Expedia or a similar site and grabbed the best deal we could find 🙂 When I’m travel planning I usually start with a Lonely Planet guidebook, check my favorite blogs, and have a look around Tripadvisor. It really depends on the destination! Hope that helps. Congrats on the new job and happy travels.

  • yrf
    January 22 2017

    “What caught our eye were some old ruins in a field. Normally a family of sign-obeyers, we were emboldened to ignore the “No Trespassing!” warnings by a pair of bikers who were doing the same. It was absolutely worth it”.

    This really pisses me off, which is one reason we have grown tired of tourist. Horse owners for first are fed up with people coming to pat their horses, feed them, making them difficult to handle. And fields are baiting fields – for animals, and other fields – the grass when walked upon you can´t hey it – so becomes useless.

    I know you think – it is just us, and the two bikers – but when that happens every day, all the time. It actually is a problem.
    We don´t want Iceland fenced off, that. you have to pay for everything.
    Not sure if you did – but loads of people do – if you walk on moss it takes decades, if not centuries to grow back.
    So please.
    Responsible tourism – not just your own gratification!

    • Meihoukai
      January 31 2017

      Interesting perspective and I didn’t think of it that way at the time. Thank you for reminding me to always be conscious!

      • yrsa
        January 31 2017

        Yes unfortunately a lot of horse owners are tired, it makes their horses too domesticated, difficult to handle to ride and so on. And these days it´s not only us, but there are 330 000 population versus 1.8 million tourists…

        • Meihoukai
          February 6 2017

          Yup, have to say you are definitely outnumbered there!

  • yrf
    January 22 2017

    And by the way, I came across your blog searching for things in Peru, and I have enjoyed it. Keep it up – but please be a responsible tourist!

    • Meihoukai
      January 31 2017

      Thanks! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it and hope you’ll stick around 🙂