Saturday, August 21, 2010

Neskaupstaður

Photos: (1) Picturesque gas station; (2) A great place to be buried; (3) The avalanche wall

The bus ride to Neskaupstaður (ISK 600) is beautiful, it’s not raining although the clouds indicate it’s only a matter of time. But there are some clear patches in the sky that give me a nice view of the mountains along the way. There’s even some fresh snow in the mountains. Fall is in the air already.
The road leads through a tunnel in the mountain that was built in the 1950s. Before that, Neskaupstaður was only accessible from the ocean. The bus stops right across from the accommodation I booked. I read about this place in Lonely Planet and the sleeping bag accommodation is just so cheap (ISK 2800) that I can’t resist the opportunity to stay indoors again. The place is called Tónspiel and it’s a fairly large and well-stocked record store. The owner is in the shop and gives me the keys to the guesthouse upstairs. There’s no one else there and I have the place to myself. There’s a nice kitchen, washing machine and TV. I can see the ocean from my little room. It’s a clean, bright, cheery little guesthouse.

I start out by taking a long walk through town, to the cemetery. What a cute little place to be buried. Then I go past the campsite and uphill to the avalanche wall. The town has a double-wall avalanche protection system. It’s invisible from town and the road since it blends well into the landscape, but there’s a walking path behind it and from the back it’s an amazing construction. The sun comes out for a bit and I grasp the opportunity to take a nap in the grass next to the wall overlooking the town and the fjord. It gets chilly soon though and I move on, walking back through town up higher on the hill.

I stop in the café Nesbúð for some cake and coffee, and get some groceries at the store. Back in the room I do some laundry and write in my journal. I really like this town so far. It’s modern and large enough to have everything you need, yet small enough as a quaint fishing village with a stunning view. The people here are pleasant and open. Considering how clean and modern the town is, it’s hard to believe it’s the last town on the road, and was only accessible by sea until the tunnel through the mountain was built. I later find out from the lady at the tourist information center in Egilsstaðir that the fishermen have to put 10% of their earnings into city projects, which is why the town can afford a kayak club, a modern swimming pool and the avalanche wall.

In the evening, I cook up some fish for dinner and go to the pool (ISK 340) which boasts the longest slide in Iceland, named Dóri Rauði. – Dóri the Red. It’s a beautiful outdoor pool with a great view.