Sunday, July 25, 2010


It seems like the more places we visit in Iceland, the more we like the country. Each place has it’s own particular charm. We sailed northwest from Grundarfjordur to a peninsular area known as the West Fjords. The town stands on a narrow spit of land in the fjord of Skutulsfjordur, which meets the waters of the larger fjord, Isafjardardjup. Isafjordur is the capital of the West Fjords peninsula and provides the services and administration for the area. There are all school levels, including a recently established university center. Fishing, since the year 900, has been the primary industry.

The Isafjordur airport operates at least two flights daily to/from Reykjavik. The narrow landing strip lies between the waterway and the steep volcanic cliffs opposite the town.

The community has welcomed 10 cruise ships this past year, according to our guide. Our tour took us the town of Bolungarvik where we were treated to an accordion concert at the old church. The young lady entertaining us had recently won the competition as Iceland’s best accordionist. The town also is the site for the Osvor Museum. We listened as Johann told us the stories of fishing traditions of old Iceland. Johann was dressed in animal skins, and we all listened intently as he told the tales in his native Icelandic (Kristin, our guide, translated). He really looked the part of a fisherman of long ago.

They are building a tunnel between Bolungarvik and the smaller village of Hnifsdalur which will be completed in September. The road around the mountain is very dangerous, with potential numerous rockslides (or should we say boulder-slides), especially during the rainy season. The tunnel will be 5 kilometers long and will make life much easier for the local population.

We returned to Isafjordur (translation --Ice Fjord) for a visit to the Maritime Museum and were entertained by teenage dancers and singers performing local music. It is interesting to note that Isafjordur has a prominent music school. The museum is located in one of the oldest houses in Isafjordur and is one of four in the museum group. We were served dried fish (hardfiskur) as well as Hakarl (fermented shark). We continued through town past the old hospital (now a cultural center), and the larger new hospital. We passed the avalanche barrier, protecting one segment of town from devastating avalanches during the winter season. On the way to a newly planted forest we saw the new ski resort building, the latest one. Avalanches seem to keep damaging their ski areas, and they move them as necessary.

There wasn’t time to spend walking around town, but at dinner I learned that the most popular place was the local bakery which served “proper” desserts.

We were told that it doesn’t snow much any more in Isafjordur. But one looks at the nearby mountains with the “snow that never melts” and you wonder…..

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