Day 131 Akureyri, North Iceland.

This morning, the high winds had died down, but it was still a little dreich until mid morning. We occupied ourselves doing essential administrative stuff for a while, then headed out as the weather brightened.

Akureyri is Iceland’s second city, with a population of 18,000. Akureyri occupies a stunning position, nestled at the head of Eyjafjordur, Iceland’s longest fjord at 60km. All around sit beautiful snow-capped mountains, and this afternoon when the sun appeared for a bit, it looked just beautiful. The city is small and compact, with a dramatic modern church perched on the hill, a pretty botanic gardens and a harbour below, from where whale watching tours depart (boasting 100% sighting rates). It has a pleasant feel about the place, the people are friendly, and the main town area is completely pedestrianised. It is the only place outside of Reykjavik to host a university, so there are plenty of small cafes and coffee shops too, to cater for the students.

We drove along the eastern flank of Eyjafjordur, heading northwards for about 30km. The views along the side of the fjord took your breath away – everywhere you looked you were surrounded by the rugged peaks of snow-clad mountains. We stopped several times to just take in the view.

We came to a place called Laufas, famous for it’s traditional turf farmhouse. It dates from 1866, and we paid to have a look around. It is timber-fronted with five gabled turf roofs, despite being all one building, with a very distinctive herringbone pattern of the turf pieces. On one of the gable ends sits a carved Eider Duck, signifying that their abundance in the nesting area owned by the farm provided a good source of income from the eider down. Inside, there were displays of life as it had been back in the 1800s – pretty basic and utilitarian.

Following our visit, we drove westwards, along the huge flat-bottomed valley, a wide fertile flood plain surrounding the Eyjafjordara River, running down from the mountains. It was mainly cultivated with grass for animal feeds, giving it a bright verdant green colour. There were plenty of young lambs along the route – they must be pretty hardy to survive out in the weather we had yesterday.

We then re-traced our steps and had a look around Akureyri for one last time.

Not sure what tomorrow may bring – but likely to be out of contact for some time once we leave the city.

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