On the path of a meaningful life

Texts, photographs and videos by Claire B.

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16 October 2019

Snæfellsnes, end of a trip and gloominess

Last kilometers by bicycle around the Snæfellsnes peninsula.
Snaefellsnes, Iceland © Claire B. - Please do not use without authorization

I am back in lava fields. They are covered with green moss. After two weeks in the fjords, I welcome the change. I am pedaling  along the north coast of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. The sun has reappeared between the big black clouds and my body is aching everywhere after yesterday’s day.

This morning, after almost two days of storm, the weather has improved a little. The wind has calmed down and the sun is back. I spent a quiet morning walking in the pretty little center of Stykkisholmur and its colorful houses. I have trouble realizing that my crossing of the Fjords is over and that I arrived on the peninsula of Snaefellsnes. The transition was too fast and too many emotions stormed my mind during the last difficult day. But I am here, pedaling quietly along the snow-capped mountains. I only have forty kilometers to reach Grundarfjördur, a small village at the foot of the famous Kirkjufell mountain and its peculiar shape. Tourists are back. The peninsula is only two hours drive from Reykjavik and much more accessible by car than the Westfjords. An unexpected downpour soaks me instantly and I feel tired. Tired and disappointed. From the bad weather for the end of my bike trip. These are my last kilometers after two months of not easy travel through the landscapes of Iceland and they are gonna be done in the rain. Or not done at all, if the rain does not stop. A last camping night probably and the rest of the week will be in hostels.

A few pink clouds embellish the sky when I wake up. The rain has stopped and I watch my first successful sunrise since landing at the end of July. Today, Tuesday is the only “beautiful” day of the week. The only day with some sun. Kirkjufell, the mountain which, for the Icelanders, has a shape resembling that of a church, stands proudly at the exit of Grundarfjördur. The waterfall at its feet is overflowing with people and I do not stay long. I do not want to be annoyed again against the influx of tourists still present. Soon, by the end of September, I will have Iceland for me alone. For my last weeks on the island. Or so I hope. My bike trip is over but I have three weeks left. Two to volunteer on a farm and one in early October doing a road trip to finish my tour of the island and focus on photography.

I drive along the coast for about thirty kilometers. The mountains in the center are already dressed in their winter coats. Rif, a small outlying district of Hellissandur, at the end of the peninsula, appears and with it, the hostel where I will spend the next days. A storm is coming again and I refused to spend the next two to three days under the angry elements. I take the last hours of the day to go for a walk in the Snaefellsjökull National Park. The small park around the glacier and volcano that apparently resembles Mount Fuji. Except I do not see much, the top being in the clouds darkening visibly. All around the mountains are large lava flows covered with green moss and reddish heather. And the sea as far as the eye can see. The hostel in Rif is a former fish factory today transformed into a youth hostel and cultural center. There are drawings everywhere, it is nice, but all the young travelers in the area have decided to take shelter here during the storm apparently. It is not really the atmosphere I like but it is like that.

The small port of Stykkisholmur.

Grundarfjördur. 

Kirkjufell.

Snaefellsnes national park

The next three days are long and rainy. I watch the rain falling without ever stopping. The landscape is covered with a thick white veil and my mood is going down. The tour of the peninsula is not gonna happen and I hesitate on the way forward. Should I still continue my lap despite the bad weather, be wet for three days and not see much but finish my bike ride? Or simply abandon the planned route, stay dry and forget the kilometers? In either case, anyway, I will not see much. The landscapes of Iceland have decided to remain mysterious. So the easy, the rest or the effort and the fulfillment to the end? But I chose the easy option, the option to stay safe. And despite the fact that I think there is not much sense to be soaked for three days, I can not help but to be disappointed with my choice. But it is like that. The hours pass slowly and I feel caged. The small museum of Hellissandur is closed and the tour of the village and some graffiti is done quickly. All that remains is the little cafe for a quiet lunch, soon filled with tourists attracted by the glowing comments on the Internet. I am stuck here, at the end of the Snaefellsnes peninsula, protecting myself from the rain and the wind, resting, trying to advance on the writing of my posts and the only thing I want is to leave on the road, conclude my bike trip. After two months of travel, moving every day, I have a lot of trouble managing this imposed immobility. I feel uneasy so I eat, I eat all the time even when I am not hungry. Food as a placebo cure to a morose mind.

After three days of waiting, I take the bus back to Stykkisholmur. I do not have enough time to go around the peninsula and it is still raining. It is Friday and I must join by Sunday the farm where I will volunteer. So I am going back. I am angry, disappointed, resigned. All of this. But I can not do anything about it. The rain has no ears, it does not hear my prayers. I spend another day in Stykkisholmur waiting for the weather to improve. I think about the post-Iceland. About the future. On this big question mark regarding the continuation. The following events, the rest of my life. Because at the age of thirty, I have to decide on a slightly clearer and more stable orientation for my future. There are so many things I want to do, on which I wish to work, reflect, learn. But I have to choose a path. Or at least a main road to follow among many small paths. To embark on something concrete. To embark on the adult world. Forget the doubts and make a decision.

On Sunday, the last day of my bike trip, I set sail for Budardalur, a few hundred kilometers from Stykkisholmur. It is there, in a small valley not far from the village that awaits me the roof which will accomodate me during the next two weeks. Two weeks to help on a dairy farm and exchange with Icelanders. Or at least that is what I hope. I leave in the rain with the sun appearing for two hours of great weather. But a last wave of big black clouds covers the landscape until the end of the day. The wind is strong and I have  headwind. The day is long and the wind is painful. I am happy to finish my bike trip, to get into something else. A sense of satisfaction, accomplishment mingles with the excitement of starting a new adventure. I arrive at the farm in the early evening, a little exhausted. I am greeted by a young woman milking cows. Who immediately takes me to her side to show me the work. No time to rest, the cows do not wait. That’s it, I am arrived. My bike trip is over, another one begins.

Street art in Hellissandur.

Going towards Búðardalur.

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Chapter V. Confrontations

Ísafjörður, westfjords, Iceland © Claire B. - Please do not use without authorization

Iceland

Iceland is a country like nowhere else. Its landscapes are magnificent and inhospitable and its atmosphere is special.

East fjords, Iceland © Claire B. - Please do not use without authorization

At the pace of Iceland

Iconic landscapes of Iceland. Landscapes of a rough, inhospitable and beautiful island.

Snaefellsnes, Iceland © Claire B. - Please do not use without authorization

Driving on my footsteps

End of my trip to Iceland. I travel for the last time the extraordinary landscapes of the island.

Myvatn, North coast, Iceland © Claire B. - Please do not use without authorization

The large North

Pedaling around Tröllaskagi peninsula and the Myvatn oasis.

South coast, Iceland © Claire B. - Please do not use without authorization

Southern delusions

First week cycling along the south coast of Iceland, from Keflavik to Svinafell.

Highlands, Scotland © Claire B. - Please do not use without authorization

Quick visits

Last days in Scotland. A short tour of Loch Ness following the Great Glen Way and a visit to Inverness.

Skye, Scotland © Claire B. - Please do not use without authorisation

The Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye, located in northwestern Scotland, is the largest island in the Inner Hebrides archipelago.

South Uist, Outer Hebrides, Scotland © Claire B. - Please do not use without authorization

The Outer Hebrides

The Outer Hebrides are an archipelago of islands east of Scotland that I crossed on foot following the Hebridean Way.

Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland © Claire B. - Please do not use without authorization

Exploring Harris and Lewis

Last part on the Hebridean Way through Harris and Lewis. An end of a hike full of discoveries and encounters.

South Uist, Outer Hebrides, Scotland © Claire B. - Please do not use without authorization

Windy monotonies

First part of my hike on the Hebridean Way through the Outer Hebrides archipelago.

Highlands, Scotland © Claire B. - Please do not use without authorization

Across the Highlands

Part two on the West Highland Way. The return of the sun, a feeling of accomplishment and the great green mountains.

Highlands, Scotland © Claire B. - Please do not use without authorization

One foot after the other

A week of hiking on the West Highland Way. First part across the Highlands, in the rain and with a head full of questions.

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