This was going to be the best part of the trip for me.
I had hired a private photo tour of the Snæfellsness Peninsula with Tony from IcelandAurora.
But, as I said in my Day 2 post, Tony sent a replacement because he wasn't feeling well.
And so began the worst day of our trip.
It began when he picked us up at the hotel at noon. He was to pick us up in a 4x4 truck to handle off-road conditions, snow etc. That's one of the things I liked about the tour.
He picked us up in a Hyundai compact that appeared to double as a taxi. no kidding.
I asked where his truck was and he said it was in the shop and we'd be fine.
I should have cancelled then and there.
I had to ask to stop to photograph the horses and a church because he was driving 125+kpm and it was hard to even take it all in and know where else I would have like to stop at. And it was snowing very badly for most of the day. We were quite uncomfortable in the little compact and I just kept hoping and praying there wouldn't be any accidents.
At the first town we stopped at for a restroom break we asked to find a small shop where Kelly could get an Icelandic sweater and we were pleased to find that this little shop was just down the road and Kelly got a pretty handmade sweater.
The first stop was the church at Budir. It was snowing like crazy and I couldn't take any front-on shots of the church because the snow would have coated the lens. So I walked around and tried my best to make the most of the situation.
Meanwhile, our guide, Kiddi, appeared to have a bloody nose and it continued the entire trip as he continually wiped with tissues etc. We came to find out later that he uses snuff which is nose tobacco. seriously. so disgusted.
We stopped at a hotel for some soup, to warm up and to hope that the snow would pass.
We were then brought to a lookout/viewing platform at the shore which wasn't much of anything to me. I took a token picture and then activity in the harbor got my attention. The signs appeared to warn against going down there but when I asked the guide said it was okay [he waited in the car thru much of the day].
Although the fishermen couldn't speak any English they could clearly see how thrilled I was to see a seal and began to feed him for me so I could take pictures! loved that and so did Kelly!
Kelly was pretty miserable with our guide too. She was uncomfortable in the back seat and disgusted by the bloody nose and started getting nausea from his driving too. But she did her best to put on a happy face and get out with me and take some pictures. Love her for that!
It was still snowing pretty badly when we stopped again. At this point I suggested we just turn back and see if we couldn't go somewhere that the weather was better but the guide said no, we would keep going.
We were cold, wet and miserable at this point and his driving seemed to get even faster... did I mention he was missing fingers? and he didn't say a word to us the whole way unless we asked a question or to stop? Yeah, talk about uncomfortable. We were two girls, alone, in a foreign country, with a guy in a taxi with a bloody nose and missing fingers driving at breakneck speeds through snow and ice... a few horror movies came to mind but I tried to keep thinking happy thoughts! ;)
We had driven by this church on the way to the coast and when he drove by it again I asked to go back and stop at it. Again, everyone waited in the car while I got out and took some shots.It was freezing cold and snowing. Still.
I'm so glad I spoke up but was so frustrated that I had to. It was a photo tour to take in the sights and we weren't doing much of that at all.
Next stop on his planned route was this old abandoned farm. I'm not sure why. I didn't see anything special about it. He said it had been a poet's home. "A big guy". That's about all he said. No, we didn't learn anything about Iceland from him.
And then, what I'd been fearful of when we got into that little taxi, we got stuck. Out in the middle of no where. Next to the creepy abandoned farm. You can see all the tracks as he kept trying over and over to get out. We did get out on the 4th try but we had both had about enough of this by then.
As we continued on I saw some horses and asked him to pull over again. I got out, by myself, and stepped into what I thought was grass only to sink into a swampy stream in my uggs. When I tried to step out my feet came out of my boots [and got soaked] and my boots were stuck [and soaked]. Thankfully Kelly came to help me because the guide was useless and could have cared less. It was just the icing on the cake.
Okay, let me preface the next statement by saying there are hundreds of amazing waterfalls in Iceland. Waterfalls like you cannot see anywhere else. Okay? And this was to be an 11-12hr tour thru sunset [which is after 10pm]. And at about 6:45pm we arrived at the last stop on his itinerary, our sunset shot. A pathetic little waterfall next to the road with a mountain [not Snæfellsness] in the background. Really?
At this point Kelly said she didn't feel well and just wanted to go back to the hotel. Truth be told, she was miserable. And so was I. The trip was an #epicfail. We had been assured by Tony that we would be flexible with the weather and I didn't really care if we went somewhere else I just wanted to capture Iceland in photos. So we drove about 90 minutes back to town, without saying a word. Uncomfortable. Did I get photos? yes. Was it a good experience. No.
I did contact Tony, the owner of Iceland Aurora after we returned to the hotel. After many emails back and forth explaining the details of our misadventures [many of which I spared you in the post] he did offer us a partial, but substantial, refund. But on a trip like this we only had two days to take tours. The first day was included in the package and was fabulous. The second day was a total bust. And that's it. There's no do-overs.