Well, I just got back from Ísafjörður yesterday. The official Icelandic 'first day of summer' was on the Thursday that we drove west (really, it is mostly north, but Icelanders always talk about going west when they are going to the West Fjords). I took this picture on the way.

Summer is here?

On the way, we stopped at Reykjanes to go swimming in the geothermally heated pool. Probably the best bit was the sign which I saw in the changing rooms. As far as I recall, the Icelandic version began, "Vinsamlegast veita athygli" or something, which doesn't really translate to this. I just checked, and even Google did a better job.

Come on, staff in Reykjanes. Surely one of you speaks English better than that? Also, the clipart is misleading.

We were staying in a little house owned by the father's father. The interior was slightly eccentric. The light-switches were all fitted sideways, and I think an eight-year-old decided how high up the kitchen sink should be.

Me with the really low sink. For reference purposes, I am 5 foot 6. Not, as this picture implies, a giant.

With a bustling population of about 4,000 people, Ísafjörður is one of the biggest towns in Iceland. Once you have visited the two cafés and walked around the entire place (which takes about fifteen minutes), there is really not a great deal to do, especially if it is raining, and of course it was for most of the time. At one point me and the 15-year-old seriously considered watching a video tape labelled "Eurovision 2005". I say considered - we actually did try to, but the tape wasn't working. Sad growls. We also spent a lot of time walking round the graveyard eating harðfiskur and looking for unusual names on tombstones. You've got to make your own fun.

Some sort of bakery-car in the town centre. The Icelandic text reads, "The old bakery. Founded 1871. Old but ever young."

If you like boats and you like mountains (but hate people), then Ísafjörður is for you.

Rusty house.
View from one of the beaches at the edge of the town.

As I mentioned before, there is a music festival every year in Ísafjörður over the Easter weekend. Apparently this year the population of the town doubled, so you can only imagine how lively the place must be most of the time. Entry is free, and it's held in a warehouse near the outskirts on the Friday and Saturday evenings. The crowd was made up of all ages, from toddlers wearing ear-protectors sitting up on their dads' shoulders, to teenagers covertly drinking spirits from water-bottles, to old men with fishermen's beards. Eighty percent of people (including me) were wearing a lopapeysa. The atmosphere was lovely. I didn't take any pictures, because I already had my gloves, phone, money and beer to look after and to have a camera on top of that would just have been asking to lose something. But the whole thing was being filmed and streamed over the internet, so something will probably appear on YouTube at some point. The best band, for my money, was FM Belfast, who played on Saturday night. I jumped around a lot and got very hot in my big woolly jumper. Other highlights included Prinspóló, Miri and, of course, Páll Óskar. Páll Óskar is an Icelandic national treasure, and easily the best-known artist performing at the festival this year. They put him on early on Saturday because children love his flamboyant, glittery pop music and spangly shirts. He's sort of like a mix between Dale Winton and the Spice Girls, which is much more enjoyable than it sounds. 

Actual Easter itself was good. It was a bit sad not to be with my parents and my brother, and also pretty upsetting to just be handed an Easter egg and not have to search for it in the garden at all. I suppose the Easter bunny can't make it over the sea to get to Iceland. But we had some delicious lamb and the grandfather asked me again whether I was a Christian. 

On the Monday the weather was fantastic, so I decided to pop up the mountain. It was very steep and shaly, and not the easiest walk in the world, but the views were worth it and also I saw some snow buntings.

A small way up the mountain.
Further up.
Scree slopes.
Ísafjörður in all its glory.
It wasn't possible to get all the way to the top, because it turned into this.
Ravens and rocks.
This is a different mountain, near Bolungarvík.
More mountains, near Flateyri.

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures! I got to see Páll Óskar and Hjaltalín perform "Þú komst við hjartað í mér" at the Iceland Airwaves in 2009, he is a national treasure indeed:


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