Detour at Kirkjubæjarklaustur

We had to pinch ourselves. For the third day in a row, we were blessed with sunny blue skies! If you didn’t venture outside, you would have thought it was summer just looking at the sky. And mind you, Vik is one of the wettest spots in Iceland so this was more than what we could have hoped for. Seeing that it was so nice, we decided to get out of our room and go for a walk to the beach. Of course, the teenager was happy doing his teenage thing (i.e. sleep) so we wisely left him behind.

Vik in the early morning and a horse getting a workout

Another view of Vik, this one from the beach

It was an easy walk and since it was still early, there was no one else but just us. We walked all the way to water’s edge which gave us a closer look at the “trolls”.  These lonely looking basalt rock columns must surely have been part of a cliff line that has been eroded ages ago.  Sort of reminds us of how powerful the waves are on the south coast of Iceland. The black beach also looks different in the day but no less dramatic. We wondered if it ever gets warm enough to swim off the beach here in summer. We know in Santorini, the black sand beach there can get so hot that they put planks on the beach for those guests who have more “delicate” feet. It is certainly hard to imagine that standing on the sand when we are wearing three-four layers in minus 5 deg C.

Black beach of Vik

What looked like a breakwater structure extending out from the beach. To the right are the “trolls” – basalt columns

Reinvigorated by the walk and fresh crisp air, we were ready to embark on the last leg of the drive. Today our drive takes us all the way to Höfn; a 206 km journey which was the furthest we had planned to drive on the Ring Road.

I can’t help but agree so far that the self-drive option is the ideal way to explore this Iceland. It is not so much the distances that is the problem. But it is the beautiful vistas that open up before your eyes as you zip along. You are constantly bombarded with breathtaking scenery that it is hard not to get distracted. You are constantly trying to keep the car on the road whilst snapping your head left and right to admire the unfolding views. It was just plain exhausting! Our friends following in their car behind us sometimes wondered if we were not dozing off at the wheel. (when our car drifted from side to side)

Moss covered lava rocks stretching as far as the eye can see

So, seemingly soon after we left Vik, we arrived at Kirkjubæjarklaustur for a fuel stop. This is a popular stop midway between Vik and Höfn. It is also here that you can find Kirkjugólf, an interesting formation in the ground that are actually made up of the tops of basalt columns. Meaning ‘church floor’ it looks so much like man-made tiles on the ground that it could easily be mistaken for a floor of some ancient structure that is now long gone. We had been successful so far in finding what we were looking for but this one stumped us all. Signposting in Iceland is not the best unless they are very popular tourist sites. This I guess was not one of them.

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Sign of what to look for in Kirkjubæjarklaustur which we mistook for the location of the ‘church floor’ itself

Firstly we drove up a wrong road and found only a sign with a photo. So we searched around the area and after ten minutes of trudging around in the snow, we gave up. (As it turns out we were nowhere near. That sign was totally misleading.)  We then drove to the end of the road but saw no signs of these formations. (At least we saw a turf house that was seemingly still in use!) Naturally, we stopped a passerby to ask and he pointed us in the direction of some hills back the way we came. So we drove all the way back and turned into the right road this time. Thinking that since they are the tops of the basalt columns so maybe they are located on a hill somewhere, we tried to find a turnoff along the road. Of course, there was none.

Another turf roof house which looks like it is used as a storage barn

So we finally we stopped at what seemed like a gate that had the tourist symbol and walked across the snow towards one of the cliffs. Thinking all the while, where are these formations? Surely they cannot be this hard to find. After 15-20 minutes, we admitted defeat. It was windy and we were cold. So we retreated back to the cars. Kirkjugólf will have to be for another day. We also worked out that it was possibly not the easiest thing to spot if it is covered in snow! Looking at some of the photos on the internet now (in hindsight), I think we were right. We could have been standing right on top of it and would not even know!

What we were looking for – Kirkjugólf or ‘church floor’. Looks like its in the middle of a field (and almost definitely covered with snow whilst we were there)


Bottom photo : wikipedia commons

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