Iceland’s Northern Town – Akureyri

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Olympus

Akureyri is the largest town in northern Iceland and it sits pretty deep in the Eyjafjörður fjord.  It is exactly at 12 o’clock if the island of Iceland were a clock (which it is not – in case you are wondering).  The town sits tight against the mountains behind it, almost being on the verge of being thrown into the water.

Where we stayed in Akureryi… or across from it

Through airbnb we found a phenomenal house sitting on a hillside directly across the fjord from the town so we got to look at it at night.  Er, in the evening hours in the daylight, since we were down there, er, up there, at the peak of summer when the sun did set, but not deep enough where it got dark (see the last two pictures in the sequence below).

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Olympus

The main “window” of the house we stayed at!

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Olympus

Looking from inside the “main window” across the fjord towards Akureyri – who cleans this window?

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

“Front” of the house I stayed at – and our nice rental vehicle

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Our house looking towards the end of the fjord; see the bridge to town on the right

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Late night in Akureyri in late June

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Late night in Akureyri in late June

My friends’ young girls loved running on the deck of the house and the field around it while we enjoyed sitting out there, soaking the view, with a beverage in hand (perhaps…).

In any case, I digress.  The town is small and is quite charming but is large enough to have a small airport for those who do not want to drive there from Reykjavik – which would be a crime if you skip the drive on the ring road!

Akureyri was a site for Allied forces in WW II which seems quite interesting given it is still a town of under 20,000 yet one that was first settled in the ninth century!  Something must have been right about it to be picked by the Allies during WW II given how far it is from Reykjavík.  You’d think they would have picked somewhere easier to get to.  In fact, Keflavík, where the modern Reykjavík international airport is located, was a U.S. air force base in WW II.

But I digress.  One night, we were wanting to be sure to have a good bottle of wine to have at the house so we rushed into town after we looked online where to buy some.  We knew we were tight on time as we had learned that liquor sales ended soon that day (I think maybe it was at 7PM but can’t recall) so we rushed out with a map on the phone marking where we needed  to go (thanks wifi!).  The drive over was nothing short of spectacular, rushing downhill, crossing the end of the fjord via the short bridge and then driving into town trying to find our way to the store (without wifi or GPS!).  We made it on time, like 10 minutes before it closed.  My friend ran in to get the wine while I stayed in the car – no time to find parking.  I sat there and watched people literally running into the store to make sure they could get their alcohol before liquor sales ended for the day.  People are people no matter what country you are in!!!

So what does Akureyri look like up close?

Alright, here are some images of this very northern town to close up this post…

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Hof Cultural and Conference Center by the waterfront

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Akureyrarkirkja (church)

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

Akureyri Junior College

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Canon EOS Rebel

The town from the house I stayed at

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

“Downtown”

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

“Downtown”

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

“Downtown”

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

“Downtown”

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

“Downtown”

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy

Sculpture in the image of a ship

Of pylsur, ice cream and pastries…

And of course, a post here cannot leave out a mention of something food…  Icelanders love their hot dogs or “pylsur”.  They are everywhere.

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy, hot dog, pylsur

They love their hot dogs (“pylsur”)in Iceland!

And, when in Iceland, well, have ice cream!  Brynja is one of the national brands.  We indulged.

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy, Brynja, ice crea,

After the liquor store, we found the ice cream store. Priorities.

And, when everything else fails, go pastries!

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Samsung Galaxy, foodporn, pastries, bakery, food

Pastries at a local bakery

Akureyri is definitely a place far away but, having spent three days staying there, it is like any other place on earth:  food and drinks matter and, where there are good views and you are in good company, it is all perfect!  Even if my family is only with me on a photo 🙂

Akureyri, Iceland, fjord, mountains, beauty, nature, travel, photo, Olympus

My family always travels with me…

——– More on Iceland ——–

My itinerary for my week visit to Iceland

A stroll around Reykjavik

Hallgrímskirkja Church in Reykjavik

Þingvellir:  Where History and Nature Meet in Iceland!

The Blue Lagoon

Goðafoss:  The Waterfalls of the Gods

Whale Watching in Iceland

Iceland’s South Shore:  The Dyrhólaey Peninsula and Vik

Postcards from Iceland:  Dalvík

A Week in Iceland – Our Itinerary

Gullfoss waterfall, Iceland', Golden Circle, nature, water, sight, sightseeing, must-see

A week in Iceland comes to a close.  I am sitting at the airport (to which I got way too early even though just about over 2 hours ahead of flight time) trying to figure out what I will be writing about and, more importantly, how I will be describing in.

Before I get on to sharing my experiences, I’d thought I’d start with a simple post about the agenda for the week.  Those of you who follow the ilivetoravel Facebook page have seen some of the sights I have seen but maybe without the overall context for the photos (go click Like on it if you have not done so yet; I post real-time there during the trips!).  I hope this post provides that context while I craft the stories that made up my full but short one week in Iceland…  So here the overall itinerary of what we covered; later on, I will add the links to each as I write about them.  This post will be short on photos so I can issue it faster but, never fear, I will be sharing tons of the great vistas in this country!

Day 1 – Arrival to Iceland

On the day of arrival, the plan was to make our way to our apartment in Reykjavik but first making a stop in the Blue Lagoon to recover a little bit from the lack of sufficient sleep and rest.  We figured this is a must-see even if touristy so we could achieve both aims (recovery and sightseeing) in one brilliant stroke.  More on the Blue Lagoon here!

One of my travel companions has an Icelandic great-grandmother so part of the trip would be about finding her roots.  On the first day, we had been invited to a BBQ at her second or third, removed or not, cousins she had never met.  So that was the plan for the evening.

Day 2 – Go around the Golden Circle

Our plan consisted of using Reykjavik as a base to see some key places before heading north, to the land of my friend’s ancestors.  The first of this was the Golden Circle – a route that covers some very important places in Icelandic history and natural beauty.  One of the most important places on the Circle is Þingvellir, where Iceland’s first Parliament was established..  We planned to use a tour company for this to ease our workload before the trip (i.e., researching exact;y what all we had to hit) and then doing all the driving to hit those places.  It was a good choice!

Gullfoss waterfall,  Iceland', Golden Circle, nature, water, sight, sightseeing, must-see

Gullfoss waterfall in Iceland’s Golden Circle

Day 3 – Go south and meet the bad boy – Eyjafjallajokull volcano

Using the same logic as for day 2, we opted for the same small tour operator to do the South Shore.  We lucked out with the company we chose as they were very flexible and being a small tour, he could offer extra things or changes to the itinerary based on the weather that day.  We went to the southernmost point in the island, drove past two volcanoes, visited the black sand beaches, and visited two beautiful waterfalls:  Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss.

Day 4 – Head north young man.  And another man, and a woman and two young girls

On day 4, we undertook the approximately 5 hour drive to our home base in the north of Iceland:  Akureyri, the second most important city in the country after the capital.   We looked forward to seeing the landscape along the way and contrasting it with the landscape of the south shore as we were told there would be a noticeable difference.

The house we rented for 3 days sat across the fjord from Akureyri and sported a large frontal window (I posted a couple of photos in Facebook).  It was a neat place to stay – you almost did not want to leave it!

Day 5 – Exploring family history in the great Icelandic north

Day 5 was reserved for visiting areas where my friend’s family had history, likely areas most tourists don’t see if they are just sticking to doing the ring road.  While the ring road is great to explore, areas off it are more pristine, if that is the right word.  So we visited small towns, like Dalvik (which seemed almost Alpine), and got to drive the northern rugged coastline, way off the ring road – it was awesome and more to come on this for sure!

Day 6 – A whale of a time

While in Iceland, whale watching is a must and we planned to join a whale watching tour in Husavik.  The waters were very calm and it was very pleasant.  More on this later.  We also knew we wanted to see the important Godafoss waterfalls which sit conveniently by the ring road.  Then we went for a hunt for the best ice cream in Iceland at Brynja in Akureyri.

Husavik, Iceland, whale watching tour, sea, boats

The harbor of Husavik, the whaling capital of Iceland

Day 7 – The start of going home

On this day we planned to backtrack to Reykjavik as trying to head back continuing the clockwise direction would take WAY too long.  We planned to stay near the airport so we could return the car, save money, and have an easy time the next morning getting five of us to the airport on time.  But we started the day walking around Akureyri before hitting the road – a town I liked a lot.

So this is a BROAD sketch of the itinerary.  The details of each story are yet to come – stay tuned!!!  (Subscribe to the blog so you can be notified when a new post comes out!)

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