EPILOGUE - ICELAND - EASTERN CANADA - MAINE - 2018
I am writing this almost a year after starting this bicycle tour last year on June 2, 2018. Hopefully, I'll remember some highlights without re-reading my entire blog. To generally summarize, here is where
I was, how many miles ridden, elevation gained in feet, nights camping, and rest days taken;
WHERE DAYS MILES ELEVATION NIGHTS CAMPING REST DAYS
Iceland 39 810 36,192 1 20
Canada 64 2,340 94,625 8 16
Maine 3 157 6,949 0 0
TOTALS 106 3,307 137,766 9 36
In addition, here is a link to my entire itinerary of where I was and went every day (in Excel);
I will start by saying that I think Iceland should be on everyone's bucket list. I've heard that 2018 was a record year for tourism there. Outside of the few population centers and the Golden Circle, I wasn't burdened with the traffic. Most sane tourists fly into Keflavik, rent a car for one to three weeks and drive the Ring Road, staying in hostels, B & B's, guest houses, hotels, farm stays, or camping. I was lugging my camping equipment around, but only used it one night in Iceland. Most of my nights were in hostels and warmshowers connections coming into, and before leaving the country. With proper planning a bicycle tourist could reserve rooms and forego camping entirely if that is your cup of tea,
(and obviously my preference).
As I said in one of my blogs, Iceland is "no country for old men". Here, I'm talking about bicycle touring and mainly the weather. I was there in the early summer and you will get rain, cold temperatures, and very high winds. Many more days were delightful however, and I recall one day getting over 70 degrees!
So, what's to like? Almost everything! For me and my camera, the countryside is absolutely amazing. The vistas are breath taking and unlike anywhere else that I have been. The glaciers, rivers, water falls, lakes, and thermal areas are all over the top. Although I didn't seek out puffins or whales, the farm animals are wonderful, especially the horses. The cities have art and unique architectural displays both modern and old. And last, but certainly not least, are the people. They are warm and welcoming, polite and very articulate. You will not have any problem communicating in English. Try speaking Icelandic and you could hurt yourself.
When on a bicycle tour, even for many days, you cannot see everything. The Ring Road is great, but getting off of it and into the less touristy areas is even better. I particularly enjoyed the far north and the road up to Siglufjordur and in the east around the Vattarnes Peninsula. I have a list of things that I didn't see and want to on a return trip; Snaefells Peninsula, the Western Fjords (huge area), the far Northeast, the eastern port city of Seydisfjordur, some of the interior. The next trip there will be with a rental car and taking hikes and leaving the bicycle at home.
From Iceland I flew to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Canada is a treat, no matter what part, and I have been to most areas before, but not the Maritimes and just a touch of Quebec. I proceeded to do a loop more or less around the perimeter of the island. It is very green, lush forests, gorgeous ocean views, and tons of history involving the English, French, and Americans. I did manage to be in a heat wave of very hot and humid weather for almost two weeks. I didn't expect that. There were many opportunities to ride on rail to trail segments which I did mainly to avoid some hills. And speaking of hills; Cape Breton Island has some doozies which were unavoidable. I was still carrying my camping gear on my 90 pound bike and these hills were soul crushing! I did manage to use my camping gear a tad more in Canada.
After seeing and enjoying a lot of Nova Scotia I took a ferry to Prince Edward Island. This is a very bucolic and wonderful island. The charming city and capital of Charlottetown was just great. I continued across the island and after only three days there, went over the Confederations Bridge to New Brunswick. A person should and could spend a couple weeks on Prince Edward Island. Next trip.
I hovered north along the coast of New Brunswick through quiet little towns until reaching Miramichi. From here I went around an Acadian peninsula where French became the predominant language. In some ways, this language thing made it feel more foreign than Iceland. People were always nice and it was never a problem however. Through Bathurst and Campbellton and then into the Province of Quebec. It was very much a French speaking area now.
My plan was to bicycle around the Gaspe Peninsula, and so I did. The southern part was relatively easy going with the north being very hilly with a constant headwind coming down the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. I crossed the Saint Lawrence River on a ferry from Trois-Pistoles and continued all the way up to Saguenay before heading south to Quebec City. What a magnificent city! Put this city on your bucket list.
From here I headed south through Quebec's delightful countryside and entered the forested state of Maine. Fall colors were just starting to peek out and I was wishing I could see them in about two or three more weeks from now. I ended my tour in Bangor, Maine.
When I go back that way, I want to see Newfoundland, more of Prince Edward Island and Quebec. You really can't go wrong anywhere in Canada. Maine is pretty special too. So there you have it. I would like to encourage you to read the entire blog starting with DAY 1, which includes the route each day and over 1300 pictures and video clips.
Questions or comments can be directed to me at email@example.com