Ferry route

Our yearly vacation was later in the year than usual. We had 3 weeks off starting August 3rd. Smyril line has a ferry connecting Hanstholm in Denmark with Torshavn, the capital of the Faeroe Islands, and Seydisfjordur in Iceland. The ferry makes the return trip once a week, leaving Denmark every Saturday evening.

We left at 4 in the morning on Saturday August 4th. We had about 1100 Km (just under 700 Miles) in front of us. Traffic was very light at that time and despite of the heavy rain we made good progress. After about 400 Km it seemed everyone else was awake too and the roads got busier. In northern Germany we even had some back traffic because of accidents. Fortunately our average speed did not slip below 100 Km/hour so we arrived in Hanstholm with time to spare.

M/S NorronaThe M/S Norrona was still being unloaded when we got in line to board. It took a while to get the fully booked ferry all loaded up with only a few centimeters to spare on the car deck so we left Hanstholm harbor 30 minutes later than planned.

After checking in and unloading our stuff in our cabin went to dinner in the ship’s restaurant. The fixed price ‘all you can eat’ buffet was excellent and plentiful.

Sunday morning we got up at 9 but since time on board is the same as on the Faeroe Islands we gained one hour. 8 o’clock was early enough to enjoy the breakfast buffet in the ship’s main restaurant.

Among the many activities on board is a guided tour of the bridge. We got to see the ‘nerve center’ of the Norrona with all the navigation equipment and monitoring system for the fire alarms. We also saw that the ship was really steered by .. the autopilot. A computerized GPS system made sure we were heading to the Faeroes and not Australia :-)

The rest of the day we just relaxed on deck in the 20░C (68░F) sunshine and in the cafeteria. By evening we went to the restaurant for another excellent Scandinavian buffet.

Monday morning at 4 in the morning everyone had to get up and get ready to leave the cabins before arriving in Torshavn. The cabins had to be cleaned to the next trip (to Bergen, Norway). We docked at exactly 6. a.m. as planned.

There was no problem in crossing the border (what border ???) and minutes later we were at our hotel only a few hundred meters from the harbor. Torshavn seemed like a deserted town. There was nothing to be heard on the radio, after the cars got away from the ferry there was no traffic at all and there were no people on the streets. Even the hotel door was still locked. There was someone at reception though, so he let us in and half an hour later we could have breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant.

The rooms were not ready yet so after leaving the luggage at the hotel we set out to make a tour to Kirkjub°ur, a small village on the southern tip of the island Strem°y. We returned to the hotel 2 hours later to get settled in our room and soon were on the way again to make our first ‘real’ trip. We drove to the island Eystur°y that is connected to Strem°y with a bridge.

'busy' roads on Strem°yWhile driving the Faeroes roads I was active on 20 meter, checking in the ‘Belgians on holiday-net’ on 14.306, with ON4ACM, Kamiel, as net-control.

Birdcliffs as seen from the small boatTuesday August 7th was our first ‘normal’ day. After breakfast we called Vestmannabj°rgini, the boating company where we had booked a tour to the bird cliffs, to check on weather conditions.When we set out to see the birds the wind was getting stronger and it got chilly on the M/B Barbara. The trip was well worth it especially when the boat entered the narrow caves and sounds. The hot chocolate and coffee helped us forget the cold on the way back.

Open air museumOnce we got back on solid ground we drove back to Torshavn. Just outside the city we stopped at the open air museum. The buildings are typical for the Nordic countries.

House of parliamentThe parliament of the Faeroe Islands is located in the ‘old town’. A section of Torshavn with typical wooden buildings.

Torshavn lighthouse, FAR-029There was some extra time during early evening so I decided that this was the perfect time to put the Torshavn lighthouse (ARLHS FAR-029) on the air. I parked the car in front of the hill on which the lighthouse was build and started to call CQ on 20m. Within a few minutes I was spotted in the DX-cluster and hell broke loose. I had constant 9+20dB signals coming in. I just wonder what it would have sounded like if I would have used a ‘real’ antenna instead of the mobile setup I was running.

Waiting for the ferryWaiting to board the Norrona in TorshavnWednesday was departure day. Torshavn looked very somber that morning. It was only 14░C (57░F). We spend some time in the shops nearby, looking for a typical Faeroes souvenir and a map with all the lighthouses. We also went to the new natural history museum where we could see stuffed bird and skeletons of different whales. We learned that some small whale species are still being driven to shore in large groups and slaughtered. The last ‘hunt’ was just a few days earlier. Around 16.00 we drove the short distance to the ferry terminal. While we were waiting to board I started to run a pileup again from FAR-029, the Torshavn lighthouse.

First view on Iceland from NorronaWe left Torshavn an hour late because the incoming cars had to be disinfected because of fears of Foot and Mouth decease. We got an information flyer that the same precautions were taken in Iceland. The sea was getting rough once we got in open sea so after dinner we got to our cabin.
We were supposed to arrive in Seydisfjordur at 9 local time but it seemed that the weather during the night was worse than expected so we docked at 10.30.

Decontamination upon our arrivalAfter driving through a pool of disinfectant and even getting out of the car to wipe our feet we officially entered Iceland. Customs and immigration was only a formality.

We had 200 Km to drive to our first destination, Lake Myvatn. Finding the right road was easy, there’s only one main road on Iceland, the N1. This road circles the island and a large part of it is asphalt.

The ringroad around IcelandA short detour from the ring road brought us to Modrudalur. Here is a farm with the highest elevation above sea level in Iceland as well as a church, build by the farmer himself.

Modrudalur church

After checking in to our hotel late afternoon we began the tour of Lake Myvatn. We stopped at Hverfjall a 2500 year old crater that’s 1 km wide. There is a path to walk up to the edge of the (no longer active) volcano.

A few kilometer further is Dimmuborgir a collection of sharp edged rock formations that were created by hot lava.

Sign at the end of the roadThe next morning we left Myvatn for Husavik. This only a 150 Km drive through a National park. Somewhere on the way into the park we must have missed a sign, or it might just not have been there, and took a 21 Km road that, as we later found out, was for 4x4’s only. It took us 90 minutes to travel this short distance without even seeing another car. I hate to think what would have happened in case we had a breakdown...

Dettifoss with rainbowAt the end of the road, the view was spectacular. The sun rays created a rainbow in the spray of the Dettifoss. The view on this waterfall can be seen after a short walk from the parking place. A few hundred meter further is another waterfall, Selfoss.

Leaving the Dettifoss area was via a slightly better road changed into asphalt road after about 20 Km. Here we found Asbyrgicanyon a canyon shaped as a horseshoe.

HusavikWe continued to Husavik. We had no more things to see so we stopped a few kilometers short of the city at the Tjornes lighthouse (ICE-092) where I found out that Iceland is very popular on the HF bands. Further down the road there was Manareyjar Lighthouse (ICE-014). Very soon I had a small pile up running that I broke of when it was time to go back to the hotel. While driving we already saw the Lundy and Husavik lighthouses too.

We continued to Husavik. We had no more things to see so we stopped a few kilometers short of the city at the Tjornes lighthouse (ICE-092) where I found out that Iceland is very popular on the HF bands. Further down the road there was Manareyjar Lighthouse (ICE-014). Very soon I had a small pile up running that I broke of when it was time to go back to the hotel. While driving we already saw the Lundy and Husavik lighthouses too.When we woke up it was gray and wet. Fortunately the drizzle stopped around 10 o’clock, the time we set out on the Knorrinn for an excursion in the fjord looking for whales. After about an hour we got lucky and saw the first dolphins. The skipper tried to give us a good view, turning the boat as the dolphins continued their hide and seek game. Just before we were to head back to the harbor some minky whales showed up.On our return we visited the new Whale museum and the Husavik city museum with pictures and artifacts of past times.

Godafoss, falls of the godsSunday was another overcast day with drizzle. We had the whole day to drive just 100 Km. About halfway to Akureyri is Godafoss (waterfall of the gods).

Akureyri cathedralThe first building that catches the eye in Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest city with 15000 inhabitants, is the Cathedral. It’s build overlooking the city and the fjord. We stayed in Guesthouse Akureyrar in the center of town.

The Christmas shopA short distance from the city, there’s a Christmas shop. The house of Santa is made of candy... at least that’s what it looked like....

Next page