Northern Peninsula, Glaumbær, Vídimýrarkirkja & Hvitserkur Rock
Ben and I decided that we wanted to stray away from the Ring Road and explore some roads less traveled by tourists so we headed to the peninsula north of Akureyi to see what we could get in to. This was an exciting route because we got to drive up and down mountain ridges against amazing scenery (duh!) and through one-laned mountain tunnels! Ben and I have been to the Big Sur in California a couple of times, but this was like the Big Sur on steroids! We zig-zagged between beautiful mountains with the navy blue ocean following along with us. We came across red sand beaches with snow-capped mountains in the background. We walked along rich, black sand beaches with crazy looking islands out in the distance. We were just trying to take it all in and make mental photographs as we trekked along.
After we made it around the peninsula, we stopped at the Glaumbær turf farmhouse and museum in Sauðárkrókur where we got to see what it was like to live in Iceland back in the 18th and 19th centuries. Iceland has several grass-roofed houses and churches still standing and they are precious! Glaumbær farmhouse is built of turf, stones, and timber. It contains 13 little houses where some of them are connected through passageways and each had its own purpose and function. There’s eating and sleeping rooms where they also did their daily hand work. There’s also a kitchen and food storage room, guest rooms, a blacksmith’s shop, and a couple of store rooms. Visiting places like this always make me long a bit for simpler times of days past. Next door to the farmhouse is a quaint, white church that was built in 1926.
We didn’t quite get our fill of these hobbit-esque houses so we headed to Víðimýrarkirkja, a popular grass-covered church painted black with pops of green and red color. This church is a true masterpiece of Icelandic architecture. When we first arrived, I was really bummed because the church appeared closed even though the sign said it should be open. After a few more people arrived to see this little beauty, a man who lived right next door came and opened it up for us and I squealed with excitement! He told us that the church was built in 1834 and that the wood they used is driftwood from Siberia that takes three years to arrive to Iceland and another three years to dry out so it can be used for building! There’s many old objects within the church like the altarpiece from 1616 and the pulpit from the 17th century. It truly is a remarkable gem and a must-see if visiting northern Iceland!
As we walked to our car from Víðimýrarkirkja, we noticed that another couple had accidentally pulled their car off of an uphill ramp while trying to turn around with one of their front tires completely dangling in the air and the other front tire barely holding its grip. We immediately ran to their aid where the lady and myself hopped in the trunk and Ben in the backseat to weigh the back-end of the car down so it didn’t go forward over the edge. Some of the locals also came to help and thankfully one of them had a rope and was able to pull the stranded car up from the ramp’s edge it was hanging off of. Even though it was such a frazzling time, especially for this sweet couple, it was so beautiful to see everyone quickly come together to support and help these precious strangers. After the car was secure and we all cheered, the lady came and gave Ben and I a big hug and she gave me kisses on my cheeks. It was truly such a sweet moment in that church parking lot and reminded me that this is exactly what the Church should look like.
Next, we headed to our hotel in Hvammstangi which I was starting to think didn’t actually exist because we drove forever down a rough, gravel road in the middle of nowhere to get to it! Thankfully, the hotel was the real deal! We quickly checked in and headed out yet again for the ten minute drive to Hvitserkur rock. We were like energizer bunnies and kept going and going! It’s easy to lose perspective on the time with all the daylight hours, but this definitely allowed us to see a lot of sights each day. We had an Icelandic traffic jam on our way out to the rock with a group of sheep that obviously own the road! This will happen to you numerous times while driving around Iceland!
Hvitserkur is a uniquely shaped rock formation beautifully scorched in black and white colors. When the tide is out, you can actually walk up to the rock and climb on it. The tide was in when we visited, and the rock stood tall and untouchable against icy water. When you visit Hvitserkur, there is a platform you can walk to from the parking lot that gives you views from the cliff looking down onto the rock. You can also hike down from the cliff to the black sand beach and walk along the water’s edge over large, gray stones. Either way, you are sure to see amazing views! Beware of the birds that are nesting in the tall grass near the beach because they will swoop down and fuss at you! Check out pics of our adventuring below.