Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Civilized

Goðafoss (Waterfall of the Gods) is a large arc of cascades, where the Skjalfandafljot River tears through the canyon right next to the Ring Road. It's glacial blue water winds its way through Barðardalur Valley, the 7000 year old lava field. It is a beautiful sight, though we don't stay long in the drizzly and gusty morning. 

Today we are headed west to Akureyi, Iceland's major northern town with a population of 18,000. The road runs through grasslands rimmed by a mountain to our right, snow sits in the bowls at the top and heavy clouds roll past. Akureyi sits at the inner tip of Eyjafjorður fjord and the drive in is spectacular, coming down from the highlands on the road that winds the length of the fjord. They say that despite the fact that we are only 60 miles from the Arctic Circle, Akureyi has the mildest and warmest weather in the country-Ha, could have fooled me! 

We park in the bus terminal lot and walk to Hotel Kea, right on the edge of the old town pedestrian walk, which is about 3 blocks long and consists of a few restaurants, bookstore and a few shops. 

Ray meets the fishing guide for his outing (more on that later) and I spend several hours walking - up to the church Akureyrarkirkja, a modern structure with a model ship hanging from the ceiling, to protect the city's fishermen at sea. From there, I walk to the botanical gardens and then across the residential and business section of town and back down to the harbor. It is a tidy middle class town. 

Finding a fishing guide for a single day outing is not an easy feat, especially as today is the last day of the season on the River Laxa.  Rivers run through private land and permits are sold for sections "beats" on the river. Agents handle all beat permits, take reservations and arrange for guides or lodges. On the upper Laxa, permits are only given to those staying at the lodges. The lower Laxa is below the dam and available for 5-6 hour slots from 9-3pm or 3-9pm. Since Ray didn't bring any equipment or waders/boots, the guide would need to get them in Akureyi. To complicate things, the weather is cold and gusty. But all is well- Ray's guide is a Ph.D. Student in fish biology, making for interesting conversation. He caught many trout, didn't get too cold, and basically had a good time. All is well!

Dinner is at the quiet Rub 23 across the street, praised for their fresh seafood, sushi and dry rubs. My salmon is buttery melt in your mouth, scallops are fresh and tender and the langoustines herb covered and tasty. 

What a luxury to have a hot shower in a heated room! Their high flow shower head, compared to our conservation minded California low flow head, delivers the fullest shower I have had in ages. The water in Iceland flows from mountains and glaciers, and is apparently drinkable everywhere, meaning streams and waterfalls. It is also the best tasting water I have ever had. 

Did you know that Icelanders have the highest life expectancy? I'm not surprised given the clean air and water, healthy lifestyle and diet, and food that is produced naturally in unpolluted environments. You just have to be able to withstand the elements!
Goðafoss



Akureyi


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