Icelandic Language Blog

The epic berrypicking roadtrip. Posted by on Aug 29, 2012 in Icelandic customs

Today’s blog post is once again about traveling within Iceland, and due to the amount of material I’m going to divide the entry in two for easier following. You see, what was supposed to be only a short trip to pick blueberries turned into something that included Iceland’s natural wonders and a church that has a reputation for working miracles! Or perhaps I should just simply say it was a very ordinary road trip on the Icelandic scale. It’s just hard to get used to the fact that over here you don’t even need to travel far away to see them – all of the things we saw were merely an hour’s drive away.

On very clear days Snæfellsjökull in Snæfellsnes (= Snow Hill Glacier, Snow Hill Cape) can be seen all the way to Reykjavík. This map might give you an idea of the distance: look for a peninsula on the west side of Iceland.

Driving in Iceland can be hazardous any time of the year, so plan even small trips well. If the map shows stretches of unpaved road you should probably choose a jeep. We certainly were happy in ours. This mountain area that we drove through is barely half an hour’s drive away from Reykjavík but the road was rather challenging. Steep ups and downs, narrow parts where the side of the road was collapsing away, potholes, you don’t always need to go to the Moon to find out how it’s like to drive on its terrain.

The text on the sign says “Allur utanvega akstur bannaður – no offroad driving”. These signs should always be taken seriously, because if you don’t and end up in danger you’ll end up paying Björgunarsveitin, Iceland’s rescue unit, a handsome fee for their trouble! That is of course in case they’ll find you in time. I’m not trying to merely scare you into behaving here, it seems that every year some tourists lose their lives in Iceland by doing something that has been specifically banned.

All of a sudden we saw lots of steam coming up from the ground. The area below Reykjavík is volcanic and includes for example the Krýsuvík* volcano which has been in the news lately, therefore hot springs are also found there.

These ones aren’t the kind of hver, hot springs, that you’d like to take a bath in though. The mud in them is acidic and boiling hot and the smell of sulphur alone is overpowering.

For some reason the Icelandic text says “Danger! Changing hot springs” with no mention of steam eruptions what so ever. The smaller sign in the corner says “Höldum okkur á stignum (= Let’s stay on the path) – Protect the nature, stay on the trail”

Signboards like this one are very common and often have info not only in Icelandic and English but other languages too. So far I’ve witnessed at least Danish, French, German, Russian and Swedish on various signboards across the country.

Of course I first read the line on top as “Center of the erupting streakers” and giggled mindlessly about it for longer than I care to admit.**

This seems to be either a freaky natural formation or the remains of a bridge long gone.

The hot springs themselves, or more of them. The area has several groups of these mud springs, some even on top of the mountain.

The colours were amazing!

Finally after we had walked through the hot springs area we continued on our way towards the south coast of Iceland. The whole area is famous for berrypicking and we did see cars parked on the side of the road all the way there. We however we’re headed towards Hliðarvatn (= side lake), a small lake with a large area full of blueberries right next to it.

Here’s some of the catch and not all are blueberries either. On the left side there are:

Bláber = blueberry

Hrútaber = Stone Bramble

Krækiber = Crowberry

In the latter half of the road trip I shall be telling you of the dangerous wildlife we saw on our way and of a church that can make financial wishes come true. See you soon again!


* I could not find a translation for the name Krýsuvík no matter which way I looked: I did, however, find this story.

**I’m mature like that.


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About the Author: hulda

Hi, I'm Hulda, originally Finnish but now living in the suburbs of Reykjavík. I'm here to help you in any way I can if you're considering learning Icelandic. Nice to meet you!