Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Northern Iceland: Húsavík, Akureyri, and Far North

As a last hurrah, I traveled to the north of Iceland with a visiting friend from Italy who is currently living in France. And he speaks four languages. Intimidating! But luckily I'm the one who knows a little Icelandic, and can find my way around here well. We took a long drive and racked up about 2000 kilometers, saw a lot of places I had not seen before, and of the places I had seen, I'd either visited last in September about 10 months prior, or over the winter when everything was snow-covered and usually closed for tourists. So this was a lot of new experiences!

We visited Akureyri and I finally got a nice shot of the mural there (click for a larger view). It's a lovely town and I wouldn't mind spending a decent amount of time there! Sadly we only stayed for dinner, a swim, and then a short walk.

On the walk we noticed that some kids had somehow gotten themselves onto this jankety wooden raft, and had basically floated into the middle of the fjörd. Whether is was on purpose or just random I don't know, they seemed to be kind of obnoxiously goofy and nonchalant about the whole thing. But then they went through a lot of effort to paddle themselves back with some plywood paddles, and when they approached the shore, angry parents/onlookers and the police were waiting. Akureyri drama!

We drove across the fjörd in the morning and by some stroke of amazing luck, the museum I have wanted to go to for ages was actually open. Safnasafnid, or the Museum of Museums!

It houses a collection of Naive and Folk art from Iceland, a small permanent collection, research offices, a tiny café, and rotating exhibits, all in one beautiful open-plan house. The museum's mission is not so much focused on one field but to promote the creation of connections and thought between disparate fields and interests, perhaps why I love it so much. My favorites were the cabinets of curiosity- named after Renaissance-era collections of unexplained objects for perusal, the cabinets house a well-placed collection of really really random things. This particular cabinet photographed housed collections of dolls from all over the world.

Driving further west, we visited a couple places near Myvatn that I had not been to before, including sites near Krafla geothermal fields. There is a beautiful implosive crater called Stóra-Viti and several steaming lava fields and mud pits, which were bathed in beautiful weather. Strangely Stóra-Viti still had snow in it, even in the middle of July! But is has been unseasonably cold in Iceland this year (even for Iceland).

Heading then up north we stopped for the night in Húsavík and our guesthouse owners were kind enough to tell us about a free hot pot up on top of a beautiful flowery field, with a great view. I soaked it all in.

Almost too tired, but not willing to give up, we then managed to drive to the very farthest northern point of Iceland, Hraunhafnartangi. The weather was so gorgeous that it would have been a shame not to go, being so close. And if I couldn't make it to Grímsey, which crosses the arctic circle, then I am happy to be so close at this point! It is a lonely and desolate point for sure, with the midnight sun shining on a small lighthouse at the edge of the world. Nothing between here and the north pole!


Meet the Author: said...

Amazing photography....


AvesMaria said...

The museum museum reminds me of this book a friend gave me - Lawrence Weschler's Everything That Rises. It is kind of about convergent themes in disparate images. Don't know if you're familiar with his writing, but you might like the book:

He also wrote this wonderful small book about the Museum of Jurassic Technology, which is also just ... well, you'll have to read it.

As always, it's great reading this. So glad I caught you before you took off for CO!