I truly believe that sometimes things occur for reasons beyond our knowing. Occasionally we are led by some force outside of us down different paths, we’re coaxed to make choices, we’re turned toward certain things and away from others.
So it seemed to go my last full day in Iceland.
The day began with a visit to a secluded puffin colony. At that time, where it would end I wasn’t sure.
Oh, I had made some plans. It had seemed it might be interesting to cap off my trip to this island with a walk in a lava tube.
But, then, after a puffin-filled morning, much of it upon the water, I couldn’t abandon the water. It was the third of three sunny days I’ve had since I’ve been here and the light sparkled off the cold, cold water of the fiord.
I couldn’t abandon that view.
So I clung to the coast, slipping onto a long finger of land called the Snæfellsnes peninsula and just north of Reykjavik. By the time I reached the peninsula, it was nearly 3 p.m. After I had traversed an hour down the coast, I realized I had another three hours ahead of me, so I took a side road to shorten the trip.
The tiredness began draining me. I had been driving in excess of 12 hours a day for seven days now and, quite simply, I was exhausted.
I had at least two hours ahead of me before I’d reach the next major town where I might find a campsite. Finally, at 7 p.m., I pulled into Borgarnes and saw the campground to my right. I pulled in.
It was starkly pretty, right on the water, but there were no facilities at all. And, there were dozens and dozens of campers and tents. I couldn’t imagine staying there for my final night in Iceland. I wanted something more memorable. I pulled out and consulted by guidebook.
I noted there was another campground and cabin complex 20-some kilometers away that might do so I headed out. This time when I arrived, I was told the facility had abandoned its campground but had a single room left in a guesthouse if I would like it.
I was tired. I was hungry. I needed a beer. And something compelled me to take it.
Then I began glancing around me. Children’s books of trolls adorned the shelves. The owner has written them, my host told me. Original artwork covered the walls, mostly of trolls and ancient Icelanders.
Upon entering the dining room, I saw a wall-full of thousands of vinyl records. And on the walls, gold record after gold record hung. Oh yes, my server said, the owner had also owned one of the largest music studios in Iceland, recording Björk herself when she was still a teenager.
Pick a record you like, he said, and we’ll play it for you.
Then I turned to the menu and selected my favorite. I’ll tell the owner, my server said; he’s also the cook.
From the dining room window, I looked over a series of small waterfalls. And on the hill behind the dining room, giant trolls emerged from the ground.
I am not kidding!
And across the grounds, he’s constructed a veritable troll discovery zone for children. He’s also created a separate path for lovers, where he has placed plaques with favorite Icelandic poetry.
This was the memorable stopping-off point I’d been seeking.
It was a luxuriant night that last one in Iceland. The wind was roaring outside my window but I was snuggled down under my eiderdown comforter.
The next morning I headed out to discover a bit of troll lore along the paths and between the descriptive plaques and statues the author had so carefully arranged. It was right here, or so the story goes, that a pair of trolls discovered their paradise, here at the falls behind the restaurant. They wanted to remain in eternity and knew they could do that if they’d let the sunlight strike them.
“They stood close together, side by side, and smiled to each other when the first rays of the morning sun appeared in the bright sky. They felt the transformation as their bodies turned stiff and their skin hardened. When the sun had fully risen, their images had been etched into the cliff where they had been standing and looking over the waterfall. Ever since, that spot has been known as Tröllafossar or Trolls’ Falls.”
That was my last day in Iceland. But before I left, I purchased my own troll book and had the author sign it.
Með trölla kveðjur, he wrote.
With troll greetings.