Iceland Day 10, July 30 – To Akureyri and the Westfjords

We left Myvatn, continuing west.  Godafoss waterfall was just out of town–a magnificent fall, this time with clean blue glacial water…much different an the gray-black thundering water we saw at Dentifoss.

14_godafoss

The fjords just kept getting better and better–such a beautiful country full of so many contrasts.

1_fjords

Finally, we came to the humming city of Akureyri, the second biggest urban area in Iceland and home of winter sports. 

2_akkureyri

The city was gearing up the long weekend.  Monday was Shop Keeper’s Holiday, most business close and everyone takes off on vacation so the city was packed with visitors and even the trolls.

4_trolls

Akureyri has a beautiful shopping area, stores filled with all sorts of high end pottery, jewelry and gorgeous Icelandic wool sweaters.    A tourist shop even had a Viking model out front…not the typical fashionista we had seen around town.

3_sweatet

Two typical little girls were in town for the day, sporting the stocking caps worn by many of the kids we saw.

6_icelandic_beauties

One of the center pieces of the town was a striking church designed to echo the structure of the volcanic basalt rock.  It was massive and quite lovely.

2_akkureyri_chuch

A sculpture on the fjord-side of the main shopping area seemed to fit the area perfectly with lines that looked a bit like the gulls around the water.

5_sculpture

Have I mentioned there aren’t many trees in Iceland?  We’ve been told they were cut for ship building many years ago.  So when we found a beautiful grove outside of town we stopped for lunch.  This place had a story…it was planted in honor of a writer and naturlist who lived in the area in the 1800s.  His family home was in the background.

7_lunch

As we near our hotel we came across a sheep sorting pen we’ve heard about.  I’ve talked about the sheep all over the countryside, and roads, roaming freely.  When it’s shearing time, the farmers gather them at one of these central locations then scoot the sheep into the pen.  After identifying their own sheep, they herd them into their specific section of the sorting wheel so they can take them for shearing.

8_sheep_pen

We finally made it to our horse farm hotel, Gauksmri, in Hvammstangi.  

10_hvammstangi_horse_farm_hotel

It was an amazing–and erie–place.  Stuffed birds filled the hotel.  Huge ravens posed in strike mode were everywhere.  It felt a bit like a scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds.  The hotel was lovely but unusual, a huge horse hide draped over the sitting area.  We visited the horses, no time to ride.  They were greasy and filthy–it took a great deal od soap and water to get the black off our hands.  Not the way I expected they would treat their riding horses.

10_hvammstangi_horses

We set out to find the seal colony at Hindisvik.  They were there, resting on a sand bar off shore.  The afternoon remained overcast, with some rain.  We actually saw at least five rainbows during the drive around the fjord.

11_seals_of_husavik

And the huge picturesque lava fin, Hvitserkur, was at the edge of the shore.  It’s been described as a rock pile, sea monster or a moose–take your pick.  It looked pretty cool to me. The water was up when we were there, but at low tide you can actually walk under the arches.

12_hvitserkur_rock

Back at the hotel, the dinner buffet was interesting.  Fresh trout, pork, chicken, lamb along with minke whale and horse.  And yes, I tried a bite of everything.  The owner said horses are raised as pets, to ride or work AND for meat.  Guess that explains the huge numbers of horses we’ve seen.  Ugh!  I retract my vision of the moving connection all in Iceland have to their equines…guess there are exceptions.  Horses were obviously just a commodity at this place.  (Probably my least favorite stop on the trip.)

Tomorrow we get to the heart of troll country!

 

Alberta 

 

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