Iceland Road Trip – Chapter One: A Tale Of Puffins And Hot Dogs

puffin iceland

Mission Inpuffinable

Forget about the brutal waterfalls and idyllic landscapes you’ll meet during a road trip through Iceland. Iceland is really about one thing: puffins! These odd little creatures are the country’s kick ass unique selling proposition and the main driver of the national postcard industry.

This is a story about an epic voyage of three guys venturing through the heart of Ultima Thule, in quest of the Atlantic puffin. By all means, me and my friends will try to find them in their natural habitat or if things go bad, eat ’em stuffed in a burger.

The Mission: close encounter with our feathered friends, dead or alive

The Team:

  •  D. : Dutch platoon commander with killer Van Damme moves
  •  J.  : Antwerp zythologist and heavy metal consultant
  •  G. : that’s me, a ‘free range and corn-fed’ philosopher

Mode of Transportation: a 2008 Toyota Yaris lowrider. Oh yeah, strictly for the ladies.

Our Toyota Yaris car rental in IcelandBeer Hunting in Reykjavik

Arriving in Reykjavik we collect all the necessary supplies our puffin-expedition needs in order to survive: a strict diet of coffee and beer. The Icelandic beer culture has evolved rapidly after the beer ban was lifted in 1989, with microbreweries exploding all over the island. After a romantic weekend of hardcore empirical research at Reykjavik’s five leading craft beer bars (aka the 5 point palm exploding liver technique), we head off to the liquor store to harvest our liquid gold. Meanwhile we bite into the culinary delight of Viking cuisine: the hot dog! Yes, ever since Nordic tribes invaded Iceland in the 9th century, they cultivated the hot dog as the country’s national dish. As a result, Icelanders now take their Frankfurters very seriously. I even heard about a parliamentary bill proposal to put a hot dog on the national flag. Respect.

craft beer reykjavikHot Doggety

The notorious BBP food stand at the Reykjavik harbour is considered by many to be the best hot dog experience in Iceland. No wonder my stomach is massively craving for a juicy next level ‘haute dog’. Nonetheless, disappointment arises when we order ‘one with everything’ and my favourite organ starts clashing with an industrially produced sausage slipped into a spongy bun from Wonderbread oblivion and topped with a lethal amount of ketchup, sweet mustard and crispy fried onions.

What the heck is this? Where’s the relish? How about a natural casing filled with organic meat and a high quality bun? I wonder what Bill Clinton must have thought when he ate here back in 2004. Probably contemplating on how Monica would handle such a dirty Wiener.

hotdog-bbp-reykjavik-roasters

Road Trip Around the Centre of the Earth

We lodge a formal complaint with The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council of Iceland and move on to Reykjavik Roasters, the local caffeine dealer. The baristas are happy to supply us with their first grade honey smooth Rwanda for a daily Cup A Joe.

With a trunk full of beer and coffee, we hop in the car, fill up the tank and take off on a magical road trip. Today’s destination: the Snæfellsnes peninsula, a rugged arm of Iceland’s west coast crowned by the mystical Snæfellsjökull ice cap, which was the setting of Jules Verne’s ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’.

But first we take a break at Glymur, the second highest waterfall of Iceland with a cascade of 198 meters. We climb the path along the east side of the river Botnsá and take in the sweeping views over Hvalfjörður. Ropes are available for the more obese species to prevent them from tumbling down the edges of steep drop offs. Unfortunately for those with a metabolic disorder, they don’t sell oxygen tanks at the parking lot, so you get to bring your own. At the top of the waterfall we cross the river barefoot and hike down via the western trail back to our car. We nearly survive. Les Stroud would be proud.

glymur hikeglymur waterfallglymur river crossingIn Snæfellsnes we pitch our tents near the cliffs of Arnarstapi. No signs of puffins though. Maybe they got intel of our movements. But we won’t budge, the force is strong with us.

Will we get to meet these little clowns? Read all about it here.

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