To the Top

As I stepped out of the restaurant at ten thirty tonight, a time I would have considered extravagantly late for a quick bite to eat back home, after a meal of local lobster tempura sushi, which, again, I would have thought extravagant except for the fact that it was the cheapest thing on the menu, the sun was still kissing the tops of the purple hued mountains. I rounded a corner and there was the moon, sliding out from behind a snow covered peak, larger than any harvest moon you’ve ever seen. It was breathtaking.

Of course, I didn’t have my good camera with me at the time (lesson learned) so this will be a very poor approximation of its beauty.

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I’m in Akureyri, the fourth largest city in Iceland (with a population of 18,000) and the capital of the north.

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I flew here from rainy Reykjavik on a flight that goes straight through the stone heart of Iceland, a barren and largely uninhabitable expanse at the center of the country.
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The landscape still looked like that when the pilot said we’d be landing in ten minutes. “Where?” I wondered. But then just before one starts to feel a little desperate, the land folds open and turns green again.

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There’s no security at these internal airports. You can’t even get your boarding pass until about half an hour before the flight. Then everyone (well, all ten of us) mills around the lobby until it’s time for departure, at which point you just walk out to the plane and get on.
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Akureyri sits at the bottom of a long fjord: Eyjafjordur.
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And it’s flanked my snow-flecked mountains that put me in mind of Boulder, Colorado, though these peaks are nowhere near as tall.

I’m staying at a small guesthouse not far from the center of town, called Brekkusel. One of the owners (I presume) let me in when I arrived and we chatted for a while. He’s from Reykjavik but his wife is from here and he says he prefers it here. Nicer people, he says. And, as if a case in point, when I came back from an afternoon of wandering, there were fresh linens on my bed. Not exactly above and beyond in a normal hotel. But one way budget travelers save money in Iceland is by bringing their own sleeping bags. You get a hefty discount for not dirtying up a set of sheets. When I inquired about the nice soft duvet now on my bed, in case there had been a mistake, Jon said, “Well, you’re far from home and your family and traveling by yourself; I just thought it would be nice.”
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I’ll close with a few more images before I head to bed. It’s almost 1am and it’s still light in the west.
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Tomorrow I’m off to see some whales even farther north, in Husavik. The Arctic Ocean. So I’d better get some sleep so I can wake up in time to catch the bus!

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