West Iceland’s Hvalfjörđur: Worth A Detour

Whale fjord

I‘ve been thinking about our little detour around West Iceland’s Hvalfjörđur (Whale fjord) a lot lately. I don’t know why. It could be that I’m just missing Iceland in general and the drive around Hvalfjörđur was the last item in our itinerary before we headed down to Reykjavik to spend the last two nights of our two week road trip around Iceland, so it was one of my last memories of Iceland. But it could also be because it was surprisingly beautiful. Like, breathtakingly beautiful.

Hvalfjörđur used to be a busy route because it used to be the only way for people in Reykjavik to get to the town of Borgarnes, which is like the gateway to the beautiful Snaefellsnes Peninsula. However, in the late 1990s, the tunnel Hvalfjarðargöngin was opened for public. For a small fee, people are now able to bypass the 62 km detour around Hvalfjörđur by taking the tunnel. When we were there two years ago, the Hvalfjörđur route had very little traffic. Driving around the fjord on a drizzly and foggy day, I felt like we were the last two people on Earth!

Perce and Île Bonaventure: Birds, Boats, and Beyond

Some places you just know you’re going to love even before you’ve ever been there. Percé is one of those places for me. Every time I saw a picture of Percé Rock, I fell more and more in love with the idea of visiting it. Of course I had to add it into our Québec itinerary. And when we finally made it to Percé and saw the big rock, it was love at first sight for me. Who knew you could fall in love with a big chunk of rock. ;-)

While we were hanging out at the marina, taking pictures of the rock at sunset after a long drive from Prince Edward Island, we saw what would be my new favourite animal: the northern gannets! We were simultaneously impressed and amused by the way the sea birds dive into the water to catch fish. So confident, with no reservation whatsoever. They sure know what they’re doing! I just knew I wanted to get to know them better. So, on the next day, we bought our tickets for a boat tour around the Percé Rock and a round trip to Île Bonaventure, where the world’s most accessible northern gannet colony in the world is located.

A Visit to the Beautiful Magdalen Islands, Quebec

I had been wanting to visit Iles-de-la-Madeleine (Magdalen Islands) ever since I saw some beautiful pictures of it that someone posted to Flickr about three years ago. We already made the decision to go to Iceland by then so the idea to visit the islands just stayed in the back of my mind, up until earlier this year. You see, this year in May we celebrated the 10th year of us being together as a married couple, so we were bound for a big road trip!

For our honeymoon 10 years ago, we went for a two-week road trip all over the Canadian Maritimes, which was amazing. Except for a night we spent in Quebec City at the end of the trip, we pretty much just skipped Quebec. Deep down I knew we must’ve missed out a lot by skipping Quebec, so, for our 10th anniversary road trip, I told my husband that I’d like to see more of Quebec, including Magdalen Islands.

№ 20 – Fisgard Lighthouse, British Columbia, Canada

Of all the lighthouses I’ve ever visited, Fisgard Lighthouse in British Columbia is my most favourite one to date. When I think of a lighthouse I would like to live in, an image of this lighthouse would appear in my mind. There is something very appealing and, dare I say, very romantic about it.

Historically, Fisgard Lighthouse is the first lighthouse on the west coast of Canada. It was built in 1860 on Fisgard Island out of materials shipped from Britain. In 1950-51, a causeway was built out to Fisgard Island from the shore of Vancouver Island at Fort Rodd Hill by the Canadian Army.

We saw a deer at the parking lot of Fort Rodd Hill! You have to walk through the fortress to get to the lighthouse. The fortress was also pretty interesting. We learned a bit more about Canadian history there. It was a lovely spot that seemed to be under-appreciated, but maybe it was only because we were there on a week day.

Iceland Road Conditions and Weather Information

So you have a road trip around Iceland coming up but you’re not quite sure what the road conditions and the weather will be like (the weather part will also determine whether you need to pack your winter coat or not). The following websites are your friends and they will show you just what you need to know. We found them very useful during our visit.

Road Conditions

For road conditions, make sure you bookmark Vegagerdin (Icelandic Department of Transportation) website. This clickable road condition map is essential. Don’t hit the road before consulting it first. If that’s not enough and you need to know what road conditions are like in (almost) real-time, there are road web cams, ready for your perusal.

№ 19 – Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Rebecca and I had been online friends for, like, ever. As in more than 10 years. Maybe 13 years? She lives in Australia. She went to Canada several years ago but was in the wrong part of the country so we didn’t get to meet. She was finally in the right part of the country last year in October so I made a point to meet up with her. Even booked a hotel room so we could spend as much time as we could.

It was dark out when we finally met, but I would recognize her anywhere, what with her blue hair and all. When I saw her, she was taking pictures of the falls. I tapped her back and an awkward moment ensued. But then we hugged, had our picture taken by my husband, and it wasn’t so awkward anymore. We had dinner together that night.

The next day, first thing in the morning, the four us (Rebecca, her friend Grace, my husband, and I) headed down to the Niagara River to take a voyage under the falls on the Maid of the Mist. The Maid of the Mist boat tour was one of the items on my bucket list so I was super excited about being able to finally scratch it off the list, and even more so when I learned that we would be on one of the last voyages of the iconic Maid of the Mist from the Canadian side. They’re replacing it with a modern catamaran-type boat this year and you’ll only be able to take the Maid of the Mist from the American side.

The boat tour was just as amazing as I’d imagined it to be. I was expecting it to be a little bit scary, but it wasn’t at all. But even with a raincoat on, I still got soaked from the mist. I was a little worried that the mist would kill my camera because I just couldn’t stop taking pictures and videos of the falls, but surprisingly it survived! The picture above was taken from the boat. I have many other, better pictures of the falls but I just had to post this one just for the fact that it was taken from the Maid of the Mist. It was such a great experience and I’m so glad that I got to scratch something off my bucket list with my old pal Rebecca!

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