AS documented way, way down there, today began with sagas and blood feuds, and – after slow awakenings – swiftly progressed to the most ♥️A♥️W♥️E♥️S♥️O♥️M♥️E♥️ breakfast ever. A range of dwarven iron breads and French baguette approximations sat alongside Skyr, chocolate-coated home made granola, spicy salami, locally grown (?!) watermelon, and an assortment of colour-coordinated jams.
Skyr is what yoghurt should be, if yoghurt had the decency to fill its full potential. Approximate consistency of room temperature butter and, in this instance, sweetened and vanilla-flavoured. It is a phenomenon when spread on milk chocolate coated granola, and I can readily imagine tribes of Arctic coast farmers surviving on little but Skyr throughout the hard winter months.
Erm, we then got a bit lazy, before finally managing to rouse ourselves in the direction of Akureyri central (actual pop. 17,700) despite the downpour of some Classic Yorkshire weather.
On the bright side, this allowed A to try out her new rain cape!
A rain cape for all trimesters, if ever there was one.
Akureyri has a qualified Touristic offering in any month that doesn’t rhyme with tune, robust or, erm, tool-eye. We comsequently found ourselves short of available activities. Here is a dramatic reconstruction of this morning’s event planning list:
And here, rather quaintly, is a town-centre sign with three arrows showing the direction of museums that are closed for fully three-quarters of the year, very definitely including today:
Necessity being the mother of invention, and with the only open things opening at one, we consequently made best use of our investigative prowess and time. Did you know, for example, that Akureyri has geothermally heated pavements? Witness the miracle!
(The heated pavement begins half way up that shot, fwiw.)
We then browsed the local shops (both of them), and half of us decided that we wouldn’t get anything from them on ethical grounds as, erm, fur played quite a prominent part in their offerings.
It is warm, though, fur. I mean, really warm. I hadn’t realised just how toasty it must be to be inside a cat. And that’s before you’ve even sat on top of a radiator.
Yeah. So we got a really nice coffee from a chair design, hat sales, book and coffee shop (?!). Which was ace. And then I bought a snood, because I want something from Iceland, and every man needs a maroon snood.
And we bought an instructional manual on various novel aspects of Icelandic life, apparently priced at £2.75. Or so we thought!!!! Actual price £15, because of the Icelandic words we’d failed to decode: price for our special book club members, oop.
Then around town… The cathedral, tbh, was pretty ace.
The (I guess) Masonic hall looked interesting:
I loved the slightly misplaced aesthetic of the high street curry hut.
But it’d be fair to surmise that Akureyri in clouds, in winter, is not the most breathtaking of places.
By now it was one. So! To the art museum!
We liked the art museum. We were the only people there, we think we were allowed to take photos, and there was an extraordinarily friendly woman on the front desk. She was willing to explain anything and everything though, to be fair, most of her explanations seemed to be along the lines of “maybe it’s this, or maybe it’s that. We don’t really know!”
Best bit: the blowtorch man. He had a residency there 2yrs ago, and blowtorched laval rocks to turn them into dribbles do glass.
He also harvested some bits of glass to make models (and other things) with.
There were also some Fijian-themed bamboo flags.
I’m pretty sure that the photos on the wall imply that they were left to be consumed by the weather:
However, the desk lady told us that they’d probably been left in a box in the attic, where the moths were something awful. Hmmmm.
The Kettle House was right next door. Tbh, I’d advise that sensitive readers look away now!
Downstairs was a bit twee. Deserted front desk. Miniature wooden houses behind a reception desk. No one staffing it. We were about to leave, when we heard some slightly… Off-centre… Humming, coming from the stairs. So up we went.
The faeces-coloured paint adorning the windows was, perhaps, a hint.
The rows of disfigured barbie dolls nailed to the walls, the word MAMMA scrawled in six-foot shit-brown letters on the wall, and the conveyor belt pinning down taped and clingfilmed rows of disfigured dolls as they ground their inevitable way towards a bucket of – what else but – shit, certainly gave a certain je ne sais quoi de malheureusementness.
Perhaps showing a bit of a nod to Damien Hirst, we enjoyed several lumps of rotting meat in Perspex cases. Not all of them were carved into resemblances of genitalia before being left to decompose. Or, at least, not any variety of mainstream genitalia that we were collectively able to identify.
Upstairs, we realised that the humming noise came from a video of the artist, mouth taped over, humming the same lullaby repeatedly whilst looking distressed. The tv it was played on was in front of two very comfortable, nostalgic, seventies-style sofas.
So, all in all, we were pretty staggered to discover that we’d been completely mistaken in our assumption that the exhibition was about childhood trauma. In fact, it was railing about consumerism.
This, at least, made sense of the rotting food, suspended between glass sheets above a glistening and sequinned carpet.
This was one of the more off-centre exhibitions I’ve been to but, tbh, it did make for a properly curious hour or so. The meat and food particularly left me thinking that the artiste must have involved someone who was very, very good at rigorous grouting.
We THEN had lunch at a cafe in town – ranked second on trip advisor, with a buffet on offer. Astoundingly nice staff, great vegan soup AND lasagne, lovely atmosphere, and all under £15!
The weather had begun to clear up, so we went down to the harbour…
Adding to the harbours appeal, all the local seagulls had discovered that mini ice bergs presented perfect perches. So they sat there, just off-shore, calling for bits of sandwich. Apart from crows, I think they might be the only birds we’ve seen…
Then out of town, to pick up some supermarket dinner. The shopping malls here are big and empty! And so must be the men! One of the curiosities of Iceland – to my eyes – is that every single supermarket we’ve been in, even in Siglufjorthir, has had a massive display of weightlifting supplements and super-expensive protein shake powders. Like, there’s more weightlifting powders than there is fruit, or fish. Fascinating!
As a last stop before heading home, we drove up to Akureyri’s main ski resort. This was great fun. Ice covered roads, and increasingly beautiful looming mountains. By the time we got there, it was late in the day, and ski passes and skis would’ve cost north of £60 for about an hour. So we headed home, for a dip in the hotel’s concrete, rectangular hotpot. White on white, unfortunately, does not an awesome photo make. So the remainder of these pics are the salvageable mountain shots, plus our evening in the hotel…
There’s apparently a very good chance of seeing very weak northern lights tonight, so we’re staying up towards midnight.
Myvatn tomorrow! After a midnight attempt at the northern lights. We’ve provisionally cancelled all hotels to the South and East, but there are indications that the roads may reopen… We’ll see!