Ferries to and from Hrisey

Unlike the previous two sites, there were actually campers here. I guess Dalvik has more going on? Looking around it doesn’t seem so, but the migration patterns of Icelandic tourists are not my area of expertise!

Another fine setup, tucked into a corner.

Morning in the Dalvík campground. So that's what it looks like!

My plan for the day was to catch the short ferry ride from Dalvik to the island in the middle of the fjord – a small chunk of land with a cute little town on it called Hrísey – then catch another ferry from there to a town just a little bit farther down the coastline called Árskógssandur on the same day. It wouldn’t save any time – I’d lose a few hours at least – but it would add some variety to the journey.

I rode down to the docks and hunted out the ferry office. The woman behind the counter told me at first that the ferry I wanted didn’t exist, then she made a long phone call to someone else and when she hung up she told me that yes, there’s a boat that makes a run to Hrisey in about an hour, and I needed to pay a small fee for myself as well as my bike which would be treated as cargo. I paid her and she gave me several pieces of paper stapled together that would act as my ticket.

The building where you can get transport to Hrísey in the early afternoon.

Lots of nets!

Business done, I cycled over to the ferry boat and ate lunch near the water: A chocolate muffin and another huge piece of vacuum-packed fish. I was really liking this easy access to pollution-free fish. The sunlight was almost warm.

I thought about how hard the fishermen must work on their boats to bring in the fish that I sat here comfortably eating, and how lucky I was just to have the time to enjoy it without watching the clock. I thought about how amazing it is to have an economic system where I can be paid money for work I did in California, and use that money to buy transportation and lunch – two things that involve work done on my behalf – in a town thousands of miles away from where I was paid.

And then there’s that weird business with exchange rates… Money I am paid in one place could buy much more work in some other place. In the context of the messy world economy with its multiple currencies this makes sense, but when confronted directly, it seems like nothing but exploitation. Well, there was none of that going on here at least. My American money wasn’t actually as strong as the Icelandic money and every time I paid a bill with my phone, the dollar got into an arm-wrestling match with the kroner and lost.

When the crew of the ferry boat arrived, I handed my paperwork to the woman who looked like she was in charge. She glanced at it, then motioned for me to bring my bike around to the back of the boat and load it over the steel ramp, into the cargo hold. I did as she asked, then tethered the bike in place. It was more of a gesture than a requirement, since the sea of the fjord was quite calm.

Kickstanded and tethered to a wall, for the overseas voyage.

I climbed up the stairs to the seating area and was amused to discover that I was the only passenger.

I was the only passenger on the ferry that day.

I had fun staring at all the information posted on the walls as I waited for the ferry to complete the short ride.

More like the candy of "give me some right now, quick!!"

I really like how these diagrams are posted on ships. Fun to look at.

When we arrived, I untethered my bike and pushed it over the loading ramp on the side, then stood around chatting with the crew as some workers from Hrisey loaded a diverse pile of boxes and hardware onto the boat. Apparently this was the primary method of exchange between Hrisey and everywhere else.

I exited through the cargo ramp, and they began loading in shipments from the island.

I saw a nearby kiosk which gave some interesting history:

Then I went poking randomly around the island, as a bike tourist does.

One of these things is not like the others...
Bicycles sure have evolved!
Mini golf, anyone?
Never been much of a church-goer, but I always appreciate the buildings.
A very pretty little town.

I wound up at a local restaurant, where I did some writing and route planning over a gigantic mug of hot chocolate. My creativity was inspired by the constant feed of 1950’s rock’n’roll songs playing quietly on the speakers, and the charming paintings in the windowsill nearby.

This is MY COW! MINE!!

A bit of saucy local art

A man I thought was the proprietor came over and chatted with me about America and the experience of being a bike tourist. He had that usual awkwardness that I’ve come to know in rural Icelanders: He was very curious and intent on being friendly, but also struggling to come up with ways to start the conversation, and very unsure about what the correct amount of personal space was.

He would come over from the kitchen and stand about two meters away from me in the otherwise empty restaurant, staring at a point on the floor to my left, and then abruptly move up next to my table and say something. Then we’d talk for a minute or two, and he’d walk about three meters away, stare out at the ocean for a bit, and then either turn around and repeat this little ritual or retreat back into the kitchen.

Nevertheless, he was friendly. I learned that he wasn’t actually the owner of the restaurant, and that the restaurant was struggling.

“Oh? Is business bad or something? Not enough tourists?”
“Well, more tourists is always better. But is actually because of bad reviews on Yelp.”
“Why do you get bad reviews?”
“We don’t anymore. We used to. Because the owner would come in and serve people right after his work on the fishing boat and all the customers said he smelled so strong of fish that they couldn’t eat the food. So now I tell him, stay away from the restaurant please, until you take some showers.”
“Hah! Not just one shower, yeah?”
“Oh no. Two showers, maybe three showers.”

He was fun conversation and I suggested that the next time he visit America, he check out the desert in Utah and Arizona, because there isn’t really anything like that in Europe. He said he would keep it in mind. Before I took off, I got a photo:

He's been to the US several times, but hasn't seen the desert yet, so I recommended that.

And then I had just enough time to get down to the dock for the other ferry boat that would take me to Árskógssandur.

The much smaller ferry between Hrísey and Árskógssandur.

Tethered to the luggage rack.

Band-aids can fix a lot!

This ride was even shorter, and as soon as I unloaded the bike I climbed aboard and started pedaling. I had a good chunk of miles to cover before reaching Akureyri.

The tiniest little gas station I've ever seen.

Another roadside mushroom. Quite a find in snowy Iceland!

I passed the time with goofy radio shows from the BBC. “Bleak Expectations” was my current favorite. Hours rolled by.

The road behind.

I tried to keep up a good pace because I wanted to get into town before all the restaurants closed. There was one in particular I was aiming for: A Thai restaurant. I hadn’t seen one of those for weeks.

The sun went down and it got cold but I pushed those pedals hard, and made it to the restaurant just in time to get a takeout order of yellow curry with chicken. VICTORY WAS MINE! I took it over to my hotel room and scarfed it while I did another round of bathroom sink laundry and dried it next to the radiator.

Time for the twice-weekly shower!!

I was back on my touring legs, and although it would have been great to stay in Akureyri and check out all the cafés and museums and trails, I needed to keep covering ground if I wanted to make it across Iceland in time to board the boat to Denmark. I looked over my maps and saw that tomorrow would be a tough day, with a massive climb right at the beginning. Could I keep up my pace?

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