Monday 26 June 2006

Newcastle to Gothenburg. Shetlands, Faroes, Iceland, Denmark.

Bloody hell. Here I am sitting in an internet cafe in Gothenburg's railway station after a fortnight of travels. I've had some good times and met some great people. I think getting drunk on the ferry between Iceland and the Faroe Islands with some Faroese fishermen was the most ridiculous thing so far. These lads had been fishing in Icelandic waters and were in a political mire having just been released from an Icelandic jail. Luckily for them, one of their Dads was the Faroese Foreign Minister! I watched England's first two 2006 World Cup group games in Iceland, and the third one in Denmark.

The beginning, Aberdeen, Shetlands, Faroes.

After months of planning I was finally off. Day 1 involved a slow bus journey from Newcastle to Aberdeen armed with only a backpack. I met some Jakeys and drank in the Schooner bar near the ferry terminal as I was so excited about finally getting underway. I gained first hand experience of Scotland's smoking ban which will impact England next year!

Getting drunk and having a smoke outside with this bloke in Aberdeen after 7 hours on the bus from Newcastle. He couldn't believe I was waiting for the Shetland ferry to begin a global odyssey!

On the ferry I drank with a geezer from London making his way to Greenland. We hit the Shetland Islands where I pitched my tent on a Lerwick roundabout and slept for 6 hours.

I woke, spent my last sterling pounds on a fish supper and made it to the Torshavn ferry where I waved goodbye to the UK. My last sight of the UK were the Shetland Islands attenuating on a bleak southern horizon. I had a Faroese meal with a pint in a Torshavn pub. Check out the grass roofs.


From Torshavn onto Seydisfyordur, East Iceland where the ferry terminated at the head of a spectacular fjord. I camped nearby and found myself up to my neck in a hot tub while taking in the surrounding icy mountains. I remember ogling a lass who looked a bit like Bjork - an Asian stunner in contrast to all the blonde Scandinavian folk. I thumbed a lift to Egilsstadir where I explored a nearby lake and made friends at the campsite. I hired a car at the airport agreeing to take a Dutch lad with me if he chipped in for petrol. Iceland is very expensive and it was cheaper to hire a car than take a bus - public transport is almost non-existent here.

We drove northwest through volcanic deserts before hitting the Myvatyn Lake area where we saw geysers, mud vents and sulfuric gases steaming out of the ground. These were the geological wonders I'd come to see. Iceland is a large country with a small population (300,000) making it a very sparsely populated land. You don't see many trees or much traffic here!

I then took a long walk up to see the azure waters of Volcano Viti's 300m crater lake. The crater was formed during a massive volcanic eruption in 1724. The eruption continued for 5 years leaving this stunning legacy.

I drove miles down a dusty gravel track to reach the impressive Dettifoss waterfall. It is Europe's biggest waterfall by volume having an average flow of 193 cubic metres per second. It's 45 m high and 100m wide. Great stuff.

Next was Akureyri, the largest town in northern Iceland. I pitched the tent but couldn't sleep because it was too bright. June in Iceland is permanent daylight. Around midnight, there were some kids playing football on a nearby field so I joined them. The lack of darkness plays havoc with your body clock.

I drove to the small fishing village of Dalvik where this dolphin had been inadvertently caught in the fishermen's nets.

I came to Dalvik to catch a small boat to Grimsey Island, 40km off the north coast of Iceland and straddling the Arctic circle. I don't know why but I'd always wanted to visit this remote outpost. I walked 2km (the entire north/south length of the island) past huge colonies of puffins to the edge of the gruesome cliffs on the island's north coast. This is a shot from the ferry. The snow-capped mountains of Iceland's north coast behind.

The Arctic circle marker on Grimsey Island with mainland Iceland in the background. From here I took the ferry back to Dalvik and drove the hire car 305km through spectacular northeastern Iceland back to Egilsstadir. From there I hiked most of the 27km back to Seydisfyordur. An Austrian couple in a caravan stopped and offered me a lift for the last few km! They couldn't believe I'd hiked over the mountains. From Seydisfyordur I caught the ferry to Denmark.


It was a 2 night ferry cruise to Hanstolm, Denmark. I drank beer with some German Hell's Angels who gave me a lift from the ferry to a campsite in Thisted. You should've seen the campsite manager's face when a squad of Harley Davidsons turned up. He was relieved when only I wanted to stay. I headed, by bus, from Thisted to Aalborg to Frederickshavn where I spent a drunken night watching England power past Ecuador. On the bus from Thisted to Aalborg I was sitting with a drunk Norwegian oil worker. He listened to my tales of Iceland while swigging whiskey from a brown bag. As we got off he stuffed £10 worth of Danish krona in my hand wishing me good luck!! That paid for a few beers later!


At 0345 I drunkenly caught a ferry to Gothenburg where I now wait about to catch a bus to Malmo and then onto Karlshamn for the ferry to Lithuania, then onwards again to Latvia, Estonia and Russia. Sitting in Gothenburg observing the rat race is brilliant.

What a start!

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