Friday, August 1, 2014

I'll be back!

Next trip to Iceland:

December 21, 2014 - January 25, 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sjáumst fljótlega aftur!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Last exit

ISF airport
The arctic express
 I leave for the airport early for the morning flight. The airport is still empty, the arctic express hasn't arrived from Reykjavík yet. It's cloudy today and a bit foggy, which makes leaving just a smidgen easier.

An old photo at ISF airport
RAX / Ljósmyndasafn
But in Reykjavík the sun is shining and it's warm. The weather feels so mild here. There's an exhibition at the Ljósmyndasafn (museum of photography) of Ragnar Axelsson's (RAX) works. I like his photography and enjoyed the documentary film about his life that I saw a while back one wintry day in Reykjavík.
 Other than that, I mostly just hang out, enjoying the sun, the shops and the people.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Foxes, friends & fast walking

Mánaljós & Sebbi

Freddy the fox

Sebbi is back in town after a great short trip to Hornstrandir and today he’s offered to take me to the Arctic Fox Center (Melrakkaseturin) Súðavík. The Center, founded in 2007, is non-profit, and volunteers from all over the world take turns helping out there. It’s dedicated to the arctic fox, which is actually the only mammal native to Iceland. Besides conducting fox research on Hornstrandir, they maintain an exhibition center for the general public. They also have a great little café, and if the weather is good like today, it’s nice to just sit on the deck in the sun with a cup of coffee. Upstairs they have a small event room where there are sometimes live music events, movies or other gatherings.
The weather is perfect today, and Freddy the fox is playing happily in his cage.

Back home in the evening, the weather is beautiful, too. It’s my last night here for a while and just as I’m ready to settle in for the evening, the neighbor lady knocks on the door and 10 minutes later I find myself out in the mountains for an 8 km hike with two ladies and good conversation. It’s absolutely beautiful outside and it’s after midnight by the time I get home. What a wonderful last memory!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Yachts & ravens, but no avalanches please

The end of my summer trip is nearing and I am enjoying every day to the fullest. Morning walks to the harbor, watching the fishermen process their catch or the container ships unload.

Yacht "Vive la vie"

One day there is a spectacular private yacht anchored in the harbor and the locals have gathered to look and gossip. After checking the internet, I find it’s owned by the owner of Ypsomed. It only stays a single day.

One evening I take a closer look at the new avalanche wall being built in Ísafjörður. On weekdays when they are working, it’s impossible to get close to it. But on a Sunday it’s possible to have a look. 

Avalanche wall
What an amazing construction! But it’s also creating a huge scar in the landscape. Once it’s finished, it will be covered with grass and camouflaged so that you’ll hardly see it from the front. There will probably be a nice walking path on top of it and behind it. It’s definitely a necessary addition to this town. I always joke and say, if you are a professional avalanche wall builder living in the Westfjords, you’ll never be unemployed. These things take years to build and there are always more needed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Miss Aura & the Greenhouse

There was an article in the 2012 edition of a Geo special edition on Iceland about an unusual house –
an asymmetrical mushroom shaped mixture of glass, metal and wood, with a greenhouse for a front entrance. The article says the door is always open to visitors, and since I often see people sitting outside the wide open front door on sunny days, I decide today is the day to stop and introduce myself to my new neighbors. 

Ásthildur is a charming lady who is glad to talk about her odd home. The greenhouse contains a pond and fountain, various fruit trees, and exotic plants and flowers. A beautiful cat roams the premises and it turns out she is the mother of Gríma, our house kitty. The town’s veterinarian is sitting with Ásthildur, enjoying a cool summer beer. I’m pretty sure I met her two years ago when the neighbors’ cat was put to sleep.

The house itself is built into a hill and the roof is covered with grass. The property is a lot more expansive than it looks from the front. Further up the hill there are more greenhouses. Ásthildur says she sells flowers and plants to the locals. It’s a charming, secluded piece of property right in town … but unfortunately it’s in the avalanche district.

Due to new avalanche zoning laws, this house and the one next to it have to be surrendered. The occupants are being forced out of their homes. Houses in the avalanche zone can only be used in the summer, not as permanent winter residences. 

Ásthildur is not going down without a fight. After all, a house this special can’t just be rebuilt anywhere. And a woman like this won’t be happy in just any old house either. I am so in love with this place, and the idea and what she’s made of it.  I hope she wins her battle with the authorities and can remain there in peace. After all, it’s her risk.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Taxidermy and other fun

The weather is nice in the morning but that’s supposed to change and it’s expected to rain in the afternoon. After a morning walk at the harbor, I stop at the Museum of Natural History. Unfortunately the exhibition on the construction of the tunnel is a bit chaotic. They seem to be renovating things and there are tables and chairs and junk scattered everywhere in that section of the museum. The numerous stuffed birds, eggs and rocks are intact, as well as the stuffed polar bear.

Then I meet a good friend, Sebbi, for coffee. Sebbi just arrived from abroad and he’s got coffee beans in his eyes, pretty wired on espresso after not sleeping from all the excitement. He’s on his way to Hornstrandir for a couple of days and I sure hope he has some good weather! I’ll hear all about it in a few days.

It’s low tide and Bolungarvík has a pretty nice section of brown sandy beach. A bunch of kids has the same idea, and it’s a good place to eat a breakfast sandwich while watching the kids play.

Home sweet home
All that’s left on the agenda is a swim, a hot dog for lunch, and biking home. The clouds roll in shortly and it starts to rain already while I’m enjoying my lunch. I put on the rubber rain gear and ride home in the rain without any major stops or delays. It’s always good to be back home!