September 16, 2012
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Today is day seventeen of my three week trip in the North Atlantic, and having been to Shetland, the Faroes and now Iceland in that time it’s absolutely flown by (although I haven’t, I’ve got the ferry between all these places so far).
I start the day with a visit to Nonnahús, the home of Reverend Jón Sveinsson (better known as Nonni) who was an Icelandic children’s writer and very much a celebrated local hero by all accounts. The house was billed as a good example of a 19th century Icelandic dwelling, and it certainly had a historic feel to it, and very small bedrooms upstairs. I was struck by the amount of wood used – wasn’t this supposed to be a treeless country? I guess this is where all the wood went! Although I think a reasonable amount of driftwood was probably used to.
The entrance ticket to Nonnahús included entry to Minjasafnið á Akureyri, the Akureyri folk museum. This consisted of lots of old toys and musical instruments, and loads of photos.
I popped in at the library to use the internet and catch up with emails, quite an impressive library for a town of its size, bigger than the library in Torshavn.
In the evening I was keen to sample the Akureyri nightlife, but was left disappointed. I had a pint in Cafe Karoline, which only had about five other people in. Afterwards I tried and failed to find somewhere more lively. I think I’d read somewhere that Akureyri claims to have more strip clubs per capita than anywhere else in Europe (it had five I think) – not that I was particularly after this but it did imply there might be a decent nightlife but if there was I couldn’t find it.
September 2, 2012
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The one bus a day from Reykjahlíð on Lake Mývatn to Akureyri didn’t leave until 3:30, and I felt like I’d done everything with a reasonable walking/cycling distance so it meant I had a leisurely morning, and long lie in.
When I got on the bus there was one local and about five or six tourists on it. It’s amazing there’s a service at all really it must be subsidised quite heavily.
When the bus pulled into Akureyri it was a bit of a shock to the system to be back in an urban environment – although it’s still quite a modest sized town at around 17000 people, it’s the largest in Iceland outside the Reykjavik area, and the largest town I’d been in since leaving Aberdeen on the ferry about two weeks ago.
I had heard from a guy at the campsite in Reykjahlíð that the campsite in Akureyri was shut – but I checked with the tourist office and thankfully it had just reopened. It did have a slightly unfinished feel to it though – and no showers! Despite this is was packed, full of huge Icelandic off road vehicles, caravans and camper vans.
Church in Akureyri
On my way into town I stopped at the botanical gardens – taking an avid interest in all things arctic I was keen to see the arctic flora of which they apparently had a lot – but was pretty disappointed. Just a modest collection of low lying shrubs with small green leaves. Still what exactly did I expect? It’s not really a region known for it’s flora afterall.
Another church – Akureyrarkirkja
Akureyri town centre was pretty quiet – but then it was a Sunday night. A handful of tourist shops were open selling the usual postcards, t shirts, puffin keyrings and hugely expensive books on Iceland. A couple of pubs were also open but they all looked dead so I thought I’d leave the nightlife for tomorrow.
As the sun lowered it started to get quite cold, the daytime temperatures are around 20 degrees but at night it can get down to about 5 degrees or lower, which is in contrast to the Faroes where it seemed to remain fairly mild all night.