Sunday, September 15, 2013
It’s September already and I’m here in Iceland for two weeks to celebrate my birthday with new and old friends. Fall is definitely here and there’s a hint of winter in the air already. When I arrived on the first of the month, there was already a light dusting of snow in the mountains. The lowlands and valleys are brightly colored and mushrooms, blueberries and crowberries abound, which I enjoy picking. The days are getting shorter but morning sunrises over the ocean are beautiful and intense.
The last cruise ship arrives, one of the biggest of the year, and the 3600 passengers are blessed with beautiful weather. The town is dwarfed by its presence as it stands docked outside in the fjord.
By the end of my trip, I feel autumn has decided to leave with me. The air is crisp and cold. The snow in the mountains is thicker and crossing the Steingrímsfjarðarheiði pass is dismal on my way back to Reykjavík. Throughout the Westfjords farmers are rounding up their sheep in anticipation of the first real winter storm.
When I return at Christmas, the darkest hour of winter will be upon us. The sun won’t rise above the mountains at all, the days will consist of merely a couple hours of grey twilight and my little town will most likely be buried in huge amounts of snow. I love it, and I can’t wait.
Posted by mánaljós at 10:30 PM
Monday, August 12, 2013
|Samuel Jónsson museum|
The captain is an entire hour late. Seems he doubles as the cook in the sea monster museum. Actually captain Jón is the owner/operator of Eagle Fjord Tours, so he’s on his toes all summer. But this time we’re all alone on the boat, which is much to my liking. The three of us head out into the fjord for some serious cod fishing. I’ve never fished in the ocean before and I’ve never fished without using live bait, like minnows or worms. But today we’re fishing for cod and using 4-hook lures. Cod feeds on the ocean floor so we have to keep the boat in suitably shallow waters. The pole is a bit longer and heavier than I am used to, and the line and reel are thicker, but otherwise it’s just like fishing for panfish in Wisconsin.
We keep most of our catch, the ones that aren’t too small. Captain Jón fillets them on the spot, throwing the guts overboard to the thrill of the seagulls. The boat is a wooden sailboat with a motor. It was built to look like an old Viking ship but it really isn’t old at all. In fact, I recall seeing this ship docked out in Þingeyri two years ago where it was used for Viking ship tours. Guess that didn’t go over too well, since Jón has now rented the boat for whale watching and fishing. Anyway no quotas are needed for fishing in this fjord as opposed to fishing in Bolungarvík where everything is more strictly regulated.
After about 2 ½ hours, we return to the harbor. Jón puts the fish in a Styrofoam crate and we grab some ice off the docks and load it into the trunk of the car. After a long drive back home to Ísafjörður, Ernesto packs the fish in one-portion freezer bags for me. Now I have a freezer full of fish to last me until next summer. The tour costed ISK 8500 per person (about €50) but for the amount of fish I have, it was worth it. Not to mention the fun and experience of it all.
(Last entry of the summer trip)
(Last entry of the summer trip)
Sunday, August 11, 2013
My main goal of this short little trip is to see Rauðasandur. Although I‘ve been to this area once before in 2009, and visited Látrabjarg, I somehow have never made it to the picturesque red beaches where seals like to bask in the sun. I‘ve been thinking about hiking here one day via Látrabjarg so it‘s a nice opportunity to scout out the area.
On the way we stop at a little pool called Krosslaug. Again it’s right on the ocean, has nice facilities (showers and changing rooms) and a natural hotpot overlooking the sea. We arrive at 11 a.m. just as they are opening so it’s the perfect opportunity for a quick lunchtime swim. There are so many nice outdoor pools and hotpots in the Westfjords and I will take every opportunity possible to enjoy them.
The pool water is not real hot but just fine on a sunny day like today. The hotpot is not real hot either, with about the same temperature as the pool. Might be too cold on a chilly day.
We’re back on the road by noon. We take a few more short stops: A pretty church, a walk on the beach, the shipwreck in Patreksfjörður fjord. Then head up the mountain pass on road 614 towards the red beaches. The serpentine road is even red and quite steep and narrow. Once we peak the pass, the view down on the red beaches is amazing. The tide is going out as we approach and at the bottom of the pass, we first head west to the end of the road.
There’s a small parking area at a private farm and a path is marked for walking to the beach. Due to the high tide, we can’t get real close and decide to have a look at the other end. First we stop for coffee and cake at the little café. There’s not a cloud in the sky, it’s sunny and warm and we sit outside on the patio overlooking the beach. I have my binoculars and am looking for seals, but no luck.
There are several farms along the coast here. What a beautiful place to live and work. However, I can imagine it’s quite isolated. The mountain pass is a beast and I’m sure it’s impassable much of the year.
|A day at the beach|
On the east end of the road is a small free campsite with toilets. From here, it’s just a short walk to the beach with endless red sands. There are quite a few people playing on the beach, young and old. The brave ones dip their feet in the chilly ocean waters of the Greenland Sea. Some just let the warm sand run through their fingers while basking in the sun like seals. I prefer the latter.
Saturday, August 10, 2013
Foggy and rainy today but tomorrow should be nice so we’re headed south for a few days of exploration. After a quick coffee and cake break at Hrafnseyri, the first real stop is Dynjandi waterfall. I’ve only been here one other time and that was in clear, sunny weather. It’s actually nice to see it in the rain and fog and it’s certainly majestic in any weather.
Then back in the car and on to Flókalundur. Didn’t see much of the mountain passes since thick fog blocked the view. The white rental car is black with dirt when we arrive at the hotel. The weather is dreary but it won’t dampen our spirits since there’s a natural hotpot here. Hellulaug is right next to the ocean and has a water temperature of 38°C (100°F). It doesn’t matter how cold and dismal the weather is, this hotpot is awesome.
After the swim we have dinner in the hotel restaurant – fresh mussel soup and it’s good indeed.
Posted by mánaljós at 11:00 PM
Friday, August 9, 2013
|Mugison at Act Alone|
Mugison is playing a short solo set at the festival so that’s what we do this evening. He plays at a small venue called þurrkver. It’s rustic and cozy and the crowd ranges from young to old and all are thrilled with the performances.
|A captivated audience|
The kids are absolutely adorable in their wool sweaters and hats. I recognize quite a few faces from Ísafjörður and a bus with students from the summer language course is there as well.
Posted by mánaljós at 11:45 PM