Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hidden jewels in magical valley

Despite the fact that the hottest spot of Iceland has been the most interesting target to talk about for the past week, I´m going to direct you attention to the north of Iceland.

Just a few minutes drive from Dalvík, a small fisihing village half an hour drive from Akureyri, lies a magical valley called Svarfaðardalur. Yes, yes, I know - not one of those easy names to pronounce, but the harder to pronounce, the more spectacular it is in reality.

This weekend, the people in the valley, as well as from close surroundings celebrated traditional Icelandic dances at a yearly event that takes place last weekend in March.

This year was very special, as 1100 years have passed from the moment when first settlers settled in this magic place, and thus the dancing event was accompanied by many other interesting events.

All kinds of professionals talked about the history of the place and read quite some bits of sagas connected to this area. The local men´s choir managed to transfer us literally to the middle ages not only through their breathtaking singing but also through the costumes and powerful instruments play that consisted of all kinds of stones, metal, horse shoes, sticks, wood horns, you name it. It´s a must see show that brings up goos bumps!

Grand finale of Saturday meant trying out excellent choreography of Traditinal Icelandic Dances lead by two local professionals. The magic lies in constant changing of partners and very lively, though simple structures that the dancers create together.

Last but not least, Sunday opened the door to 3 beautiful churches hidden in the valley that offered surprises in the form of old stories, old bibles and great singing and fagot playing. We drove from place to place, stopping at each and every one, being taken on the journey of the church´s history, being spiced up by the locals who were describing it.

If you ever come all the way to Akureyri, and will feel like getting local, indulging the beauty off the beaten track, these are the places to go to!

And here are the links where you can follow up on the volcano spitting out...

or maybe calming down.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Is there still hope for some skiing?

I´ve just come back from Berlin (having attended one of the biggest tourism fair ITB), being really curios about the weather and Icelandic reality.

Well, I didn´t see any snow down south (Keflavík, Reykjavík), but reaching Akureyri in the middle of March, snow has welcome me. On the way to Dalvík, it even started snowing.

There´re still some chances to try out the slopes and apparently even Bláfjöll (half an hour drive from Reykjavík) still offers some skiing possibilities. The most important thing is checking out the weather and snow conditions on the relevant web-pages, before you actually set off to your dream Icelandic skiing destination.

Today, I want to introduce you to skiing in Dalvík, in the area of a large ski resort, just half an hour drive from Akureyri.

The area has two lifts and offers paths of two different difficulty levels. On top of that, there are 2 kilometres of cross-country skiing paths.

The skiing area serves as a training place for the local kids, bringing up some promising champions to represent Iceland. As the result of this, opening times are adjusted accordingly, however, flexibility is there, especially for groups.

Check out the updated opening hours here.
When it comes to prices, Dalvík is one of the cheap places for skiing, charging as low as 1400 ISK for an adult´s day pass and 1600 ISK for a weekend.

When writing this, there´s a big national competition in skiing announced for the end of March, taking place in Dalvík 26.03. - 29.03. This means, no public skiing.

As soon as I will have tried the local cross-country skiing area, I will post a comment.