Thursday, July 28, 2016

Explosive dispersal in Flateyri

Today I spend a few hours in the neighboring village of Flateyri, taking the public bus at 11am. First I hike along an old road out of town, along the hiking route to Suðureyri. As I walk in the warm sun past endless fields of lupine, which have bloomed out by now, I hear a constant yet irregular popping or crackling sound – just like Rice Krispies cereal when you add the milk. This is something I’ve never noticed before, so I stop to inspect the lupine’s black seed pods.

The technical term for nature’s unusual way of spreading seeds is explosive dispersal and it's not only common in lupines, but also impatiens and pansies, for example. As the pods  dry, it creates tension that causes the pod to eventually split. As the two halves pop open, the seeds are suddenly released like a tight spring. It creates quite a popping, crackling, snapping chorus of sound that’s entertaining to hear. Nature never ceases to amaze me.

After an enjoyable 2-hour walk, inspecting the dam and the pass and lounging in the sun, I head back down to investigate the town’s new cafe, Bryggjukaffi. The ladies inside are truly thrilled to welcome a customer, so I order a cuppa and a dish of delectable blueberry cheesecake and sit outside in the sun. The view of a warehouse and parking lot is not especially idyllic, but otherwise it’s certainly a nice little cafe.

I stop at the old bookstore, which is another one of the village’s delights. I have time, so I thoroughly browse the old books and find a few to purchase. The price is established by weight and the books are placed on an old-style scale. For anyone who enjoys books, I recommend having a look here. I skip the village’s other places of interest, like the Nonsense Museum and the avalanche wall, because I’d like to have a look at the new addition to the tiny indoor swimming pool. Recently two hotpots were built outside, thus greatly improving the pool’s attraction. Since the weather is so nice, the hotpots are full with ladies and babes, and in typical Westfjords style, there’s free coffee.
That wraps up my day in Flateyri and my last day in the Westfjords for a bit. I’m heading off to Reykjavík tomorrow for a couple of days in the city. I’ll be back soon for the blueberries!   

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Happy to be home

Ísafjörður with cruise ship

The trip back home through the tunnel the other day was uneventful, seeing as I am now a pro. I did everything right this time: took a longer break at the top of the pass to let my sweat dry off, put on some warm clothes, removed my sunglasses and of I went. It was easier this time since I had the lane with priority and didn’t have to wait for oncoming traffic. Emerging from the tunnel, the view over Ísafjörður was magnificent, with a mighty cruise ship docked in the harbor. I love my little town and it felt so good to be home.

Cute in my work clothes

This week we’ve all been busily working on house repairs and improvements. I won’t bore you with the details, but aren’t my work clothes adorable?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Hvítisandur (the white sands of Holt)
Foggy morning
It’s quite foggy this morning but I am hopeful that it will burn off eventually. After taking my time in the hostel and making my own breakfast, I hop on Roadrunner for a tour. First I just want to cycle around the rest of the road here and check out the numerous abandoned farms. They are quite photogenic in the fog. 

Then I’m back on the main road for a short stretch before I turn off on road 625 towards the church Holt. After a quick stop there to peek inside, I head on to the white sands, which is my main destination for the day. I have to bike through kría (arctic tern) breeding grounds and am grateful I am wearing a helmet as they swoop and attack my head. At the beach, the fog is thick and eerie. I inspect the pier first that juts quite far out into the water and spy a family of ducks waddling along the beach. A grin spreads across my face. This is really beautiful in the fog, a special place, and no other people in sight. 

Another abandoned house

Looking out at the pier
The fog lifts as I walk along the beach. It’s strange to see the contrasting black stones peppering the white sand, accented by copious piles of duck poop. It’s not easy to find a clear spot to spread my beach towel (this is just a metaphor of course, I really only have a thin, body-length plastic sheet that I use for picnics and napping when I hike or bike). I can’t sit for long though, as the wind picks up and it gets a bit chilly. Nonetheless I spend quite a long time at the beach. It reminds me of the white sands of Florida that I remember as a child and imagine there should be children playing here. I’m sure it would be a lot of fun making sandcastles here. 
Quack, quack!

I bike a bit further down the gravel road but only to Harðardalsnaust where I stop for another short break at an abandoned building. The weather isn’t any nicer here. The fog is hanging thick in this part of the fjord and the wind is cold. The skies look much friendlier in the valley where I came from, so I head back early without inspecting the whole road as planned. 
Evening horseride

After a walk along the beach near the hostel, I return for dinner and a short rest before heading out for a long evening walk into Korpudalur. I return just as the sun is disappearing behind the mountain after 10pm and by now the sky is blue again. Out in the fjord where I biked today, the fog still hangs thick.