Iceland: Akureyri + Godafoss

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Michele Moricci

AKYREYRI, ICELAND | DAY #7  The sun filters from our Vallakot Guest-House‘s window. We wake up with a rich continental breakfast accompanied by delicious freshly baked Waffles. We take milk, coffee and orange juice. We eat more than we could but we could not really miss the opportunity.

Today we will finally arrive to an inhabited or at least more-inhabited city, Akureyri. Since he was little, Giovanni dreamed to come visit it and in his childish play he even pretended to come from this village overlooking a fjord. We travel a couple of hours and along the way, even today, we see a myriad of horses. The typical Icelandic foal of Norwegian origin (it is a bit weaker than ours and has a clumsy tuft), spend most of the time eating and watching the few cars sprawling along the road. The large enclosures are so extensive that at times the horses seem totally free. The most fun thing is that often if you look at them closely, they remain motionless as petrified.

Before arriving at destination we will stop in two mandatory destinations for those arriving to the North. The first stage is that of the typical Grenjadastadur grass houses. Coming to this place makes a real leap in the past, as it is an old local settlement with grassy roofed houses. In front of these houses transformed into small museums – portraying their old life – there is a white church with a gray roof. Everything has remained intact as it was during the last function, not too many years ago. The second stop is the Godafoss Waterfall, Waterfall of the Gods. The name comes from one of the many legends that concern it. According to the local folklore, the three 12 mt falling-falls  – from which it is composed  – recall three legendary deities: Odin, Thor and Freyr. We move to the most exposed rock to observe turquoise water flowing below us. Once again the Norwegian landscape seems unmistakably perfect.

50 km far, we can see in the distance a small agglomeration of houses overlooking the Eyjafjordur. Akureyri is finally close. After so many days, the idea of seeing a country inhabited by human beings as well as of a luxuriant nature seems essential to re-balance the mind. Akureyri is considered the “North Pearl“, small and busy, representing the fourth largest island in Iceland with approximately 18,000 inhabitants and a university. Walking through all its way long and wide is easy and takes few hours.

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The city center is a street that follows old-fashioned houses with stunning colours interrupted by small souvenir shops from the outdated look. A short walk from the center lies the beautiful Akureyri Kjirka, minimalist and modern with two side aisles recalling basalt waterfalls. The long staircase allows us to reach the feet of the church and also offers an interesting view of the bay. On the port, boats await, swinging slowly in time with the wind. We curiously enter the residential neighbourhood to find out about everyday life. Nobody seems enthusiastic to see us rolling in the street. They are limited to living with tourists bringing money (more or less). There are many homes that charm us with their glowing colors or for that incredible resemblance to rural America. And as life spends quiet on a beautiful sunny day, we (like many other tourists) – without finding cheap alternatives to a four cheese pizza at 26€, we eat our toast by the fjord. Shortly after, however, we enjoy American coffee from Te&Kaffi, the Icelandic equivalent of Starbucks, seating on the main street as people come and go making the afternoon atmosphere a bit sparkling.

Later we head to the Botanique Garden to keep enjoying the cool sunny day heat. In this elegant garden, located in the residential area of the rich, there are many species of flowers and plants collected. People walk, relax on the grass and have a snack at the cafeteria. We sit and enjoy all the relaxation of this fresh Icelandic summer.

The sun begins its usual evening downhill, the air cools down and the city’s life begins to slow down gradually. We travel by car to our apartment booked on AirBnb, a super modern mountain apartment with breathtaking views of Akureyri. And so as soon as we get there we’re amazed by it. It’s really nice as shown in pictures, and the view is worth watching. Disposed baggage we decide to sit and watch the city and dine. The iPad plays jazz music, the lights gradually light up in the lodges beyond the fjord, and the faint moon peeps into the sky never dark enough.

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DAY #8 The next day there is no reason to rush it. Akureyri is tiny and despite being on the weekend, life runs really smoothly. We have breakfast in the apartment and enjoy the view. Again.

The warm sun in the sky gives us the right sprint to leave for a brief visit to Gasir, a small uninhabited village just a few kilometres from the center, where travellers have reached back in the centuries to exchange goods. Once we arrive we find that there are free sheeps, uncontaminated nature and simple woods used in the regular local festival that revives the market’s myth of the past.

Back in the city we visit the small Akureyri Art Museum where works of local artists are shown. Arrived in the main street as it is Sunday, we take the chance to have a brunch for a cheap price at Backpackers. Akureyri is incredibly small and certainly offers a good opportunity to relax after long days climbing mountains, long walking distance and exploring around but a whole day can be enough to enjoy the town in all its peculiarity.

There are a few cars on the road, the sun beats insistent on the almost deserted streets and the traffic lights with the red heart signal are the funniest thing. Before the temperature drops we go back to the botanical garden to relax on the lawn and organise the last days of our journey that will end in Reykjavik.

The journey continues…


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Michele Moricci