Ever since my parents went back to Denmark on Monday morning, I’ve been spending my days in the Westfjords in North/West Iceland. As I wrote in my latest blog post, Steve and I are staying with Thorhallur in Thingeyri.
Westfjords is a place that most tourists don’t visit on their travels in Iceland, as it’s not on the ringroad and quite far from all the popular tourist attractions in the south. Therefore, it’s less accessible than everywhere else in Iceland, especially during the winter time, where many of the roads are closed. All Icelandic people know this and have learned not to listen to the GPS that always finds the “quickest” way, but apparently doesn’t know about closed roads in Iceland. While driving to Thingeyri, Steve and I found that out the hard way..
I had rented the GPS for about 700 DKK for 10 days, which is really expensive in my opinion, so I expected it to know about road conditions and make sure that we got to Thingeyri without getting lost. But that was obviously too much to ask of this GPS.
We started driving from Reykjavik on Monday at 12.00 AM and according to the GPS, we would be in Thingeyri at 6.00 PM the same day. But as you’ve probably guessed by now, that is not how it went.
When we reached the Westfjords at about 3.00 PM , we saw a sign to Isafjördur, which is close to Thingeyri, on a road turning right, but the GPS wanted us to go straight, so we did. We trusted this little thing blindly and didn’t think anymore of it until an hour before we were supposed to arrive in Thingeyri. By now, the weather had changed for the worse and a snowstorm was brewing.
We turned off to a gravel road, which should have taken us to Thingeyri in an hour, but there was a huge sign telling us that the road was impassable. But, adventurous as we are, we decided to drive past the sign and see if we could prove it wrong. Unfortunately, the road turned really bad a few hundred meters later with snow covering it and the car almost sinking into the gravel like quicksand.
We had to turn around and take another road that would get us to Thingeyri 1,5 hours later than expected, but as it turned out, this would make us even more late.
Just as we passed the small village of Bildudalur at about 8.00 PM, we saw another “impassable” sign that blocked the road and we could go no further. Again, we tried, but failed. I rang Thorhallur to tell him what had happened and he apologized for not telling us about the impassable roads (not his fault, just terrible GPS and horrific road signs). When I told him where we were, he laughed and said that we were 700 km. from Thingeyri… I couldn’t believe my ears.
By now, I was so tired and frustrated, I just felt like giving up. The only positive thing about it was the fact that the area that we were driving in was so beautiful. Honestly, I’ve never experienced anything like it and I don’t understand why they didn’t put those signs up at the beginning of the road. But anyways, we tried to keep an open mind and even though we had wasted time and petrol, we got to see so much of the Westfjords and because of the beauty of the place, we were kinda glad that we got lost. We actually also met two other tourists, who had done exactly the same thing as us, which made us feel a little bit better.
We drove back to the bigger village of Patreksfjordur, bought some food and then headed back to the main road. Steve was a real darling, as he offered to drive in the snowstorm, while I slept most of the way. His plan was to drive all the way back to the main road with the sign to Isafjördur before going to sleep and he managed to get there by 2.00 AM. We then found an area to park the car and slept really comfortably in the car.
Steve woke up to the sound of a snowplow and the driver had seen our snow-covered car, so he came over and told us that the roads were now okay to drive on. We drove for another 3 hours through windy and snowy mountain areas before finally arriving in Thingeyri at 4.00 PM.
It had been such a crazy experience, so we were really glad to see Thorhallur. He lives at the end of the village in a beautiful house with a stunning view of the mountains on the other side of the fjord.
Steve and I had a bedroom each and every night, Thorhallur would cook dinner for us and although, I am usually very fussy, he actually got me to eat something decent for a change.
Steve and I stayed with Thorhallur for 5 nights and spent the days relaxing, driving around to the nearby villages and exploring Thingeyri and in the evenings, we played cards with Thorhallur, listened to his inspirational life stories and songs and chased the Northern Lights. I always thought that it would be quite lonely living in such a remote place, but the nature in the Westfjords is so beautiful and it’s such a safe place to live with everyone knowing each other, so I can understand why people would choose to live there.
As Thorhallur describes it himself, the Westfjords is truly the best kept secret in Iceland. There are not many tourists to be found, especially in the winter time, which makes it so much more special in my opinion. I love seeing areas of the world that most people don’t come to and despite getting very very lost, I have had a lovely time exploring the Westfjords. I have a feeling that the Westfjords will soon be discovered by a larger number of tourists, but I hope that it doesn’t ever get as touristy as the south, as the untouched nature and remoteness of the place is what I love so much about the Westfjords.
When I come back to Iceland sometime in the future (which I definitely will), I want to come during the summer and visit Westfjords again.
Westfjords is beautiful in the winter, but I would definitely like to spend some time here during the summer, as the opportunities here are much better at that time of year. Thorhallur was telling us how he would take us sailing, fishing, horse-back riding and other activities that can only be done in the summer. But even though we didn’t get to do those things this time around, I’m so very glad we came and discovered this amazing paradise of the north, which should be on the top of the list for anyone visiting Iceland. I’m very grateful that Thorhallur opened his home to us and gave us the opportunity to explore this wonderful place.
Now it’s almost time to leave the Westfjords and say goodbye to Thorhallur, as Steve and I are heading to the Snæfellsness peninsula for some more sightseeing, before I leave Iceland to go to Oslo and Svalbard on Tuesday.