The Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Base for two nights while touring the Snaefellsnes Peninsula was the Hotel Stykkisholmur in the town of the same name, which is situated on the edge of Breiðafjörður Bay, on the peninsula's north coast. Our allocated room had a superb panoramic view and the clouds obligingly lifted soon after we arrived to reveal a skyline of snow-capped hills to the east, on the far side of the islet-strewn fjord.
Over the past few decades Stykkisholmur has been transformed from a typical Icelandic fishing village, with its livelihood based on scallop fishing, into the peninsula's main town. Most of the local residents still make their living from harvesting the sea but now tourism also plays a part, with whale and wildlife watching trips operating when weather permits.
Stykkisholmur is a small town by European standards, but an interesting place for a wander. Many of the houses in town have been renovated, with some now operating as restaurants, small museums or art galleries. There is also an outdoor, heated swimming pool complete with pure water 'hot pots' full of minerals reputedly with health giving properties.
Stykkishólmur Church is a striking modern-looking concrete structure with its entrance located between two sweeping arms leading up to the bell tower. Many liken the design to the backbone of a whale. Consecrated in 1980, the church has seating for 300 people and is also used regularly as a concert venue. The church was used for a location shoot in the 2013 movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty starring Ben Stiller, Shirley MacLaine and Sean Penn.
The rear of the church.
In the 1935, the Sisters of the St Francis order arrived and built a catholic church
and a convent in Stykkisholmur. A hospital and printing works were added later.
Stykkishólmur is also the departure point for the ferry boat Baldur which runs to the Westfjords, one of Iceland's, most scenic, but isolated regions. This ferry also calls in at Flatey, the largest of the Western Islands, a cluster of about forty large and small islands and islets.
The town`s 9-hole, shorefront golf course is free of charge for guests staying at the Stykkishólmur Hotel but, as gale force winds seemed to be the norm here, this is definitely the place to open a kite shop rather than one hiring out golfing equipment!
Stykkishólmur's dramatic situation is best appreciated from the top of Sugandisey Island, adjacent to the harbour. A short causeway has since been built linking Sugandisey to the mainland, while at the same time sheltering the moored boats from the worst of the stormy seas when wild weather blows in. A path leads up to the navigation light that's over 100 years old.