Highlight: Conquering Klakkshaus
Today turned out to a much longer day than originally anticipated, but another one of my favorite days so far. I started my day steeped in Icelandic lore and tradition, starting, of course, with my morning bowl of skyr!
Shortly after scarfing that down I headed over to Berserkjahraun, named after two berserkers that were murdered there. By their boss none the less! Legend has is a farmer hired these two berserkers from the north to help out around the farm. As in most stories, one of them fell in love with the farmer’s daughter. The farmer, who thought his daughter was too good for the likes of them, set out on a task to carve a road between two mountains. Much like the tasks given to Hercules, failure was expected, but as the berserkers quickly started to clear a path, the farmer, nervous about having to give away his daughter, for lack of a better phrase: murdered them.. The daughter’s thoughts on the whole episode remain wholly unknown..
Now, before you laugh it off as another silly Icelandic story, apparently archaeologists did find two male bodies buried there. Now I don’t believe everything I read on the Internet and don’t have the time to actually check it out. But just saying! What I do know to be factual is the insane and weird landscape. Spiky lava flow (over 3,000 years old), mixed with bright green moss, with giant mountains in the background? Sign me up! I liked it so much I drove back again after coming back from Stykkishólmur, where I climbed Helgafell (the right way, therefore was eligible for my three wishes, thank you very much). A productive trip if they all come true!
Now, if you looked at the pictures a;ready, I bet you’re wondering: what’s that hanging up? Meat of some kind? Well, my friends, those are pieces of Greenland Shark almost done with the fermentation process. There is a shark museum that comes with a free sample of the shark. Due to various research I passed on trying puffin (since the mid 2000’s the puffin population has dropped about 30%), and whale meat (I love whales, but was open to try it until I heard it’s more of a tourist gimmick than an actual tradition), but I decided to try the shark. I want to point out that the Greenland Shark is close to being a “threatened species”, but I was told that all the sharks they use were ones caught accidentally in fishing nets. Most sharks, when unable to swim, drown, so when the pull in the nets there are sometimes dead sharks in them.
So, still with some moral qualms, I decided to try it. The meat, when right off the shark is filled with toxins and can be very dangerous to humans, but once it undergoes the fermentation process, through some chemical reaction that was explained to me, but can’t, for the life of me remember, it becomes “edible”. Was it the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tried? No. Will I eat it again? Probably not. I will describe it as a wine for you: fatty and chewy, with (not so under) undertones of salt and decay, leaving a taste of ammonia in your mouth for hours to come. Yum. DId I mention my clothes still smell of rotting shark? The museum was interesting, if only for the fact that unlike most museums everything is there to be touched and felt. Well, except for the shark eggs in jars I guess. They also had a section of things that were found inside dead sharks bodies, like the skin of a baby seal they cured and saved. Cured in the tanning sense of the word, not as in the baby seal is alive. Just to clarify.
It was 2pm; not early enough to go far, but too early to head back home, so I found a hike and decided to climb Mt. Klakkur. It kicked my butt! It was only 5 miles round trip, but straight up and straight down. Some very impressive views from the top of the whole area. The “path” was basically to connect the dots between various, short, green posts in the ground. That is, until, I could not find any more to follow! I wasn’t at the top yet so I kinda had to just make my own way (and promptly got Fleetwood Mac stuck in my head) to the peak. As I got closer I was so excited I couldn’t help start to run there, and as I did, the sun came out from clouds giving me just the extra bit of power I needed!