Thursday, March 17, 2011


I took a small excursion to Hafnarfjörður today (pronounced a bit like 'Hap-na-fyor-thur' but definitely not like 'haf-nar-fa-jar-dar'), and boy, was I in for some hits and misses. For one thing, every museum there happened to be closed (and there are about four in town). One museum is definitely open all year but happened to be closed in mid-exhibit transition. There are a couple really cute bakeries and coffeeships, but both churches I peeked into were also locked. It was snowing out and pretty quiet on the streets, so I thought I'd find a hidden gem of a harmonium somewhere to play and revel away some winter songs, but also no luck with that either.

But then I noticed this lookout point on a hill, and decided that I was already walking around in the snow, why not have a dramatic view to boot (or should I say boots, I put on my heaviest boots today). I was not disappointed by this! There were even some trees up there, how delightfully big they were.

And on the way there and back I saw some of the things which Hafnarfjörður is known for- it is a small 'town'(essentially now a 'suburb' of Reykjavík's urban sprawl) full of old, charmingly detailed houses, neat architecture, and small harbor. The town is also sort of hillier than anything else around it, which felt like another country, maybe Switzerland (though I've never been there) or some alpine village, where many of the streets are joined with staircases and the houses are built a bit precariously on the edge of cliffs. Many of them have the old-style Icelandic detailing, like 'gingerbread' of Victorian homes, sprucing up the tin-clad walls of the historic timber houses.

There was a really bland building which I still kind of liked for its moderist repetition:

And this ominous-looking school (or so I think it's a school) on the hill:

I bet it was an amazing gargoyle of a building once, until the town sprang up around it.

At the base of the lookout there is a crazy Viking hotel/restaurant/souvenir shop/tourist trap.

I didn't go in but actually this one looked far less hideous and actually kind of fun, compared to some of the ones in the city. The architecture of this building is also intense, I might shop there just to see what it looks like inside. Is that a traditional rooftop decoration up there, or did someone just take a Viking ship prow and adapt it for the roof?

On my way back, I stood next to some 11-ish-year olds who asked me for cigarettes; they were disappointed that I didn't smoke. They also couldn't stop spitting every approx. 3 seconds. Really, who has that much saliva? It's just a competition at that point. Icelandic teen angst at its finest. Even in a sleepy little harbor town, there's plenty to be angsty about. Like having to wait until June until the museums open. Ptew.

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