Hellnar was special. There was one hotel, one six-table restaurant, endless cliffs and even more seagulls. It was here that we felt the most far away, in the best way. We ate fish soup and carrot cake (as it was all the menu consisted of) and went back the next day for more. We sat inside writing post cards and looking out the big windows, and we sat outside on the giant colorful pebbles, freezing and marveling.
On the northernmost side of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a small harbor town called Stykkishólmur. We arrived at the modest bed and breakfast we booked there only to find a sweet woman named Greta, who suggested we stay at her new boutique hotel in town instead. Described to us simply as "the second oldest building in Stykkishólmur, also it's red," we apprehensively set out to find our new home for the night. To our surprise and excitement, Hotel Egilsen turned out to be an immaculately-renovated barn; equal parts quirky and luxurious with careful attention to detail. The town consisted of a marina, a lighthouse, a few restaurants and a grocery store, but it was the most happening town we had come across.
Things I will remember about Stykkishólmur: the white lace curtains at the restaurant across the street (where we had our typical meal: mussels and fish soup), red wine and reading in the lounge that doubled as a library (Wild is an amazing read), the "night guard" (a lovely young girl) making us a breakfast feast, the endless seagulls, the bright orange buoys against the dark blue water, and how cold the wind felt standing next to that lighthouse.
The day we set out toward the Snæfellsnes Peninsula was sunny and beautiful, and we expected an easy three-hour drive to our destination. Not an hour into the trip we found ourselves in an icy-road-blinding-white snowstorm. We drove on, both silently terrified; there was a significant drop off on both sides, no guard rail, buses passing us at high speeds, etc. We couldn't pull over (there was no shoulder), we couldn't turn around, and we didn't know where we were going -- we just had to keep driving. After what seemed like hours but could not have been more than ten minutes, the winter wonderland disappeared and we stopped at the next sign of life (a desolate shark-fishing museum) to figure out where we went wrong. Attempting to avoid driving back through the snows, we detoured to a gravel road for the next five hours. Bumpy riding aside, taking that gravel road was the best decision we ever made. It wrapped around mountains, took us to cliffs overlooking the ocean, through small seaside towns and by so many ponies.