The sign says picnic spot and invites me to drive in. I need no second invitation and am pleased to draw to a halt. The sky, the road, the mountains and Sundini, the deep channel between Streymoy and Eysturoy, are barely different shades of grey. For a moment, when the cloud descended, I knew not which was road, mountain or fjord so the idea of stopping was welcome. I have obeyed the sign and eaten my roll, finding myself hungrier than I expected. The rain beats heavily and from my secure driving seat I can barely make out Eysturoy across the water. I sit a while. It’s good to have a companion to converse with even if Siri says she will not work without internet connection.
I am surprised that the distances seem smaller when driving than walking and hitching. Barely had I left landmarks I know than I ascended sharp mountain ranges with bends that made me anxiously check my position on the road. Ears fogged and popped as I began a long descent which culminated in a tight hairpin bend before crawling deep into the bowels of a subsea tunnel that stretched for miles, joining Vagar with Streymoy.
I dislike dark tunnels, underground, anything that makes me feel shackled, repressed, trapped. I become claustrophobic and fear for my life. Today, i imagined the water would come bursting though the rock and I would drown. I tried to decide on a plan of action, exit the car before it submerges or wait for things to settle?mIf I got out, before the car submerged, I would risk tons of rock landing straight on me but may make my way up towards the surface or at least die trying. if I sat in the car until everything settles I think I would stand no chance, for the car would be crushed and buried by mounds of rock and I would endure slow suffocation or drowning. Risking myself to the water as soon as I can seems a better bet.
I continue to descend andam surprised when my ears fog and finally pop with the depth I have dropped. A motorbike clings too close to my tail, almost nudges me to speed up, adds to my anxiety. The limit is 80 but I think 70 sufficient for me now, thank you. I find myself pushed by him and note in alarm that I’m now doing 83 and it’s too easy as we are still descending. I brake gently and try to suppress my rising irrational fear that I won’t reach the other side. It must be near though, I must be near.
With relief I note the beginning of an ascent but it is short lived and levels off again. I drive for what feels like many more miles, tense and anxious. Eventually I see daylight and with relief, watch out for the service station at which to pay the £10 toll.
My picnic is eaten, the windows steamed up. Any attempt to have windows slightly open just results in everything getting wet. Rain drives from all directions. I have studied my map and despite the lack of road signs hitherto, I think I will know my route when I get to Hvalvik, I just need to go left then stay left. Choices are limited on an island when driving by the sea.
The rain continues but my picnic has all gone. I want to hold on to this place of sanctuary and stay just a few minutes more but as I drive away the rain suddenly departs and the roads become dry. I can see the Streymoy mountains on one side, the mountains of Eysturoy on the other and the waters of Kollafjørdur between us. Im pleased to stop and take a photo, waterfalls such as this have accompanied my route for some time. The rain has ceased but the skies are still grey.
As I notice my turn and leave the main road, my heart skips as I begin to drive my first buttercup route. I notice multiple pull in places for photos or sight seeing but wonder what there is to see, it looks pretty uninspiring. It soon dawns on me that these are notbviewing spots but pull ins where a driver on the right must give way to the right, unless it’s a lorry then give way to the left or if you are going downhill you must always give way to right or left over a car coming uphill and in a tunnel you do what it tells I think unless you meet a lorry. Or something equally confusing. Just as I had to stop earlier, unsure of speed limits I’m now unsure of the rules of the road. Nor, I realise, do I and have my driving license with me. I stop, but my Bradtt guide does not cover the rules of right and left give way. I conclude that for a lorry I will not always move out of its way, especially when in a single track tunnel and cars? Well I’ll see what sort of seems to make sense and no doubt other drivers will soon put me right if I get it wrong.
Buttercup routes are rather aptly named as the ground is littered with buttercups all over the islands. My heart now lurches rather than skips as I find myself on narrow single track roads that drop on either side and whilst not particularly dangerous, would nevertheless ground a small car and need a rescue truck to retrieve. I drive carefully, if I hit a sheep, I have to report myself to to the police and pay compensation to the owner and sheep roam freely at will.
Sometimes there is too much to say and not enough time. Sometimes there are so many memories, so many thoughts that occur, that I would need to record them in the moment and cannot do so. I think I will remember them but my drifting kaleidoscope of thought trains has gone. I wonder if the mental act of driving has temporarily taken my memories away, sent them to some distant corner where they wait to surface. I could look at my photos and regurgitate but my writing comes from my heart. I am saddened that I have no more words for the moment but suffice to say I’ve been a tourist today and there will be a point where I can record it.
It’s only 10.45 and I’m in bed. This is the earliest I’ve been to bed since arriving and it’s definitely lighter than it will be in an hours time. The birds too are different, I hear them chattering a goodnight to each other whereas I’m used to just hearing those that call on through the night.
It’s been a long day but my brain is tuning in. I’m too far behind to write now but forgive my notes for these things belong here and will be done in good time
Saksun: Smell of smoke, Just like uk history, hay silage, Gov supporting wool market, Spinning wheel, Building with wood, Bbq polluting, Smell of pine, stacks of turf, Icelandic ponies contentious, rye, wild plants in turf rooves, sheep drying , Birch bark, polluna,
Allotments, cyclists, dried fish, arts and crafts, black sand, angelica, Risin, Kellingin, hippies, sun on water
Linear Kollafjørduron, Card games cafe chill