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Published: December 7th 2008
Started the day bright and early with a visit to Akureyrí. Stopped for gorgeous photos over the town and lake (see panorama) before continuing onto the town itself.
Akureyrí is the fourth biggest city of Iceland and the only metropolis outside Greater Reykjavík. The ”Capital of the North”, as it is often called, is the administration and service centre of Northern Iceland.
Although only around 15.000 people live here, it offers an infrastructure that probably cannot be found in a City in Central Europe of similar size. It's truly unbelievable that a town that size can even be termed a city let alone be a major district capital!!!
First we visited the town's botanical garden, founded by a Danish woman in 1912. It sounds crazy after seeing nothing but green all week but it was so nice to be somewhere ordered and civilised! Spent a ridiculously long time in that little oasis of calm before heading into the town.
Visited the 1940 inaugurated church Akureyrarkirkja. It is the symbol of the city and was been constructed to honour Matthias Jochumssons - a priest and poet, who also wrote the text of the Icelandic national anthem. It also
had a stained glass window showing the story of Þorgeirr Ljósvetningagoði and the nearby Godafoss waterfall.
Unfortunately it is completely ugly and reminded me of a prison. One of the stain glass panels in the church apparently comes from Coventry Cathedral in England although I was unable to ascertain exactly which one!
The town itself was tiny - literally just the highstreet and not much else but it included that most Icelandic of all things - a curry hut! We also made a couple of new Icelandic friends in the form of a pixie and a ...erm... something standing in the middle of the highstreet!
We all stopped for tea and cakes before piling back on the bus. Our poor guide was terrified when we all yelled at her to stop when driving along the edge of the lake. A whale had amazingly made its way inland into the fjord and was in the lake along with its baby. Apparently it had been there a couple of days and they were worried she was injured. She certainly wasn't up to posing for photos!
We continued westward stopping at one of the best preserved traditional Icelandic farmhouses,
Glaumbaer. The poor people there were far more interested in watching one of Iceland's very few entrants in the Olympics on tv instead so ended up drawing straws to decide who was stuck giving us the tour!
The farmhouses were only a little over one hundred years old - it's slightly unbelievable anyone could live like that and apparently this was a fairly wealthy farmstead!
I have always considered myself reasonably short but even I had to duck at every doorway. Even worse was the all-pervading smell of peat - both the walls of the house and burning in the fireplace!
It certainly made you realise how tough life must have been. No privacy whatsoever and you literally lived on you bed: slept, ate and worked there.
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