July 16, 2021 – Iceland Day 8
To view short video clips of this day, click here.
After saying our goodbyes to Inga mid-morning, we made our way east with a plan to drive a loop within the peninsula and then head for Reykjavik. As it would turn out, just about everything we saw was steeped in folklore. Snæfellsnes is actually the location of the beginning of Jules Verne’s novel Journey to the Center of the Earth. I didn’t snap any photos, but I believe one or more of my videos has the Snæfellsjökull glacier in the background, which was the opening that the main characters descended into for the beginning if their adventure.
Just up the road from the Oxl Guesthouse, we came upon a marker for Iceland’s most notorious (and only) serial killer Axlar-Bjorn. The area we were in was part of the old Oxl Farm where many of his victims were gruesomely killed, sometimes dismembered and buried.
Iceland’s only serial killer “In 1596 Björn Pétursson, better known as Axlar-Björn, was executed for his heinous crimes. Björn confessed to having killed 18 people but no-one knows how many his victims were. Almost all of his victims were unsuspecting travelers who happened to pass over his lands on Snæfellsnes peninsula, south of the iconic Snæfellsjökull.”
Another 15 minutes down the road, we spotted Rauðfeldar Canyon. We didn’t know anything about it, but we parked and contemplated hiking towards it. We ultimately decided against it. After watching and reading reports of others who did hike into it, part of me is glad we didn’t and part of me wishes we had.
The story from the placard outside tells a story of Bárður Snaefellsas, half-man and half-troll, who lived with his daughters nearby during the 9th century. Bardur lost his mind over a prank that his nephews pulled on his daughter and killed them. He pushed Raudfeldur into this canyon and pushed Solvi off the nearby Solvahamar Cliff. Afterwards, Bardur was said to have gone into the glacier and was never seen again.
Next stop, the beautiful Arnarstapi where we would meet up with Mr. Snaefellsas himself in the form of a giant sculpture.
Bárður was apparently more than just a short-tempered man troll. He is credited with being an original settler of this area who held near-godlike status. After his descent into madness (and the glacier), he became known as the Protector of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
We continued the loop and drove through the Snæfellsjökull National Park to Olafsvik and then back south past the Bjarnarfoss waterfall.
There was so much more we could have explored, but after 8 days of driving, my teenager was long overdue for some city life, so we made our way south to the capital city of Reykjavik.
Once there, we spent a little leisure time in a local mall and then spent some time strolling the lively and colorful Laugavegur street. We ended our day at the Island Hotel to rest up for our second attempt at the volcano.