After a number of Murvi-van holidays exploring Scotland, Orkneys and Shetland Isles we felt that now was the time to be a little more adventurous. We had the idea that for our ‘first time foreign’ Murvi-van holiday we would continue our travels northward, and visit Iceland and the Faroe Islands. After all it did not look to be too much further north on the map!
We were delighted when Julia and Roger decided to join us in our adventure. It was such fun travelling in company, being able to share our experiences as we travelled, and knowing that we were not alone so far from home.
The only way to take a ‘van to Iceland is via a ferry from the top of Denmark, and as the ferry to Ejsberg no longer runs we had to take the cross Channel Ferry to Calais. We had time to enjoy our journey through the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark and a week later we caught the Smyril Line “Norrona “ ferry from Hirtshals, Denmark to Seydisfjordur, Iceland, via the Faroes. While moored in Torshavn for a few hours we were able to go ashore, this worked well as we were able to check out the Tourist Office and campsites for our return.
Personally, I think this has to be the best way to travel to Iceland, it makes one realise just how far away this remote country is. “Norrana” is well fitted and the food is excellent provided the sea is not too rough! We took advantage of the meal deal.
We were in awe at the scenery as the ferry cruised up the fjord to Seydisfjordur harbour. We could not have had a more spectacular arrival sailing past towering mountains with snow capped peaks under a clear blue sky in bright sunshine albeit with a bitter cold strong wind blowing across the deck. After a prolonged very cold spring the Iceland summer season was six weeks late.
Between the three vans we had three guide books, The Bradt Guide, Lonely Plant and Rough Guide, with many maps. We found the Rough Guide to be the most useful for planning but enjoyed reading the Bradt guide which gave an overview and interesting information on many of the places we visited.
On the “Norrona” we had purchased a Camping Card which gave us access to a number of campsites, some with pretty basic facilities but on the whole not too bad at all.
In the main travel on the tarmac roads was good, while the gravel/unsealed roads could be quite rough in places we were well rewarded with wonderful scenic views by using these, particularly in the Westfjords.
Fearing shops would stock just the traditional Icelandic fare I had filled every available space in the Murvi with staples, tins of peas and fruit, pasta, couscous, lentils, quinoa and spices to liven up any dish I created. In the event shopping for food proved to be no problem at all, and it was easy to adapt recipes to make use of the the pretty good selection of vegetables available. But buying salad other than cucumber, peppers and tomatoes was a problem and there was not the most inspiring selection of cheeses.
The country is full of wonder; we will never forget the magnificence and splendour of the scenery, including spectacular waterfalls, clear pollution free skies, the amazing glaciers, icebergs, mountains, deep blue fjords, volcanoes, geysirs, midnight sun, and a swim in a natural hot spring pool. It is also a nature lovers paradise. We saw many birds on our travels including puffins, razorbills, guillemots, kittiwakes, fulmars, harlequin ducks, Slovenian grebes and Arctic terns.
We enjoyed four weeks in Iceland and felt any less would have made for a very rushed schedule.
We had just ten days to enjoy the Faroe Islands and spent four of these exploring the north east, staying at a small campsite in Klaksvik on the island of Bordoy. This turned out to be an excellent base to visit different islands in the North and North East each day. Driving our Murvi’s through the narrow, low, single lane, unlit tunnels through the mountains did not appeal. After checking bus and ferry times with the extremely helpful Tourist Office we decided to make use of the bus service instead, enabling us to enjoy exploring a couple of the other islands stress free.
We also used the Atlantic Airways Helicopter service to fly to the island of Fugloy, an island in the north, and as return flights are not allowed on the same day returned via the inter-island ferry.
I can confirm everything the tourist guides say about Iceland and the Faroes, they are truly wonderful countries.