Friday, June 17, 2011

Hike below the Arctic

It´s June 17th, officially summer in Iceland, but here in the North, it´s been more of winter temperatures prevailing :(

Today, we´re having a heavy and grey foggy-like cloud hanging over the fjord. The wind is almost close to zero today, so it makes it a bit warmer.
Once, and again, this is Iceland with its erratic and ever-changing weather representing quite a challenge for tourists.

Nevertheless, regardles of this cold summer, I´ve been helping one amazing couple running an extremely homy guesthouse, to organize day trips on majestic mountains of Troll Peninsula. They know the peaks and valleys better than their shoes and it´s been real fun and very enriching to 'cook' interesting hiking trips with them for our visitors who will make it up north this summer.

During selected days within July and August there will be a choice of day trips including a guided hike (in Icelandic being translated to English), ending with a dip in local pool (for those who don´t feel like swimming, there is a jacuzi or hot pot to let their tired muscles relax). After that, we´ll be driven to Bjarnargil (an old farm which was transffered into a guesthouse), where great local dinner prepared with love, using mainly local ingredients will be served.

For an inspiration, check out: and keep on following this web-page to stay up-to-date about the upcoming trips.

Today, I´ve read an interesting piece of news about a waterfall Glymur in Hvalfjördur, west Iceland, which is the country’s highest waterfall with a drop of 198 meters. Apparently it might now lose its status as one of the new waterfalls, which was created at the edge of Morsárjökull glacier, in Vatnajökull national park might be 228 meters high. Well, there is still accurate measuring to be conducted by the National Park´s management, but for the time being all implies, that Glymur is losing its status.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Eastern side of Eyjafjordur - tip for a trip

I was invited by a great local guide Birna, who has become one of our first tourism providers to join GO LOCAL ICELAND, for a 'testing tour' on the eastern side of Eyjafjordur the other day.

This meant that on a nice and sunny Friday (luckily as the day before we had snow and rain) I drove off from Dalvik and copied the shores of the fjord driving towards Akureyri and then heading to a village called Grenivik. After having passed the bridge, connecting both sides of the fjord, one gets to the eastern side of the fjord with awesome views.

The further you drive the more of the western side of the fjord gets uncovered, including a little island Hrisey with around 100 people living there.

One has to watch out for the turn from R1 towards Grenivik, but as soon as you´re on the right road, quite scenic pictures open up - just don´t forget to watch out for sheep.

Birna has been living at a farm called Hleskogar, which is a stone throw from Grenivik (small fishing village) where she was born.

Our tour started in Grenivik, and Birna´s story connected us fully to her ancestors who were very important fishermen in the village and we got to see and hear about what it was like at the beginning of the 20th century when rowing boats were slowly being exchanged for engine boats. Birna is a great story teller and my imagination was full of living pictures as she was bringing us back to history of Grenivik when already 11-year olds were working hard on boats.

There is a little museum by the shore, which will be open during the summer between 1pm - 5pm so make sure you pay it a visit - even-though it does not have signs in English yet, one gets to picture the past well thanks to the objects and pictures displayed.

On the way from Grenivik to a farm, Birna showed us one of the oldest outdoor pool in Iceland beautifully hidden in a gorge. You feel a real pity, knowing that there´s a big questionmark whether to renovate it or not. I hope it will turn out well and we´ll have a dip there in near future.

Well, having been introduced to a local farm setting and shown a unique plant that only grows in one particular stone and nowhere else in Iceland, we had a nice walk overlooking the fjord and listeining to Birna´s stories (including a mystery about one maybe an old grave?..).

Last but not least, being invited to her house and tasting local fish dish and a local cake with home-made cream, was a nice ending of the whole trip.

The tour was around 4 hours, including the introduction to their own hydro-power station that is fully servicing the farm. Thanks to great real stories Grenivik became more alive for me than before and I even discovered places I definitely want to go back to.

On top of this, there are some amazing hiking trails in an area called 'Fjordur' and basically the whole eastern shore of Eyjafjordur Latrastrond is worth the whole day visit and strolling and discovering remains of abandoned farms.

So - plenty to choose from for a local traveller, just roll out the map and make up your mind.

And don´t forget:

The weather in Iceland isn’t exactly balmy – one can experience hail in July, and be effectively trapped on a campsite by a storm for a few days, whilst tents are flying around the campsite. You can’t guarantee the weather in Iceland!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fresh June tips for day trips in Eyjafjordur

It´s supposidly summer in Iceland, however, weather changes (especially here in the North) make us feel as if it was still winter time. (to stay up-to-date about wheather follow this page.)

Well, as I´ve mentioned many times, Iceland with its erratic weather changes can be quite a challenge for a traveller who likes sticking to rigorous and fixed plans. So I invite us all to think about this proverb: 'a good traveler has no fixed plans.'

Bearing the above in mind, I want to share a possible trip you might want to take, while exploring Eyjafjordur. In the coming months, I´ll be testing local tours and local options and will be posting my experience here, so do follow us, if you´re interested.

Last week, me and my boyfriend decided to use a day of public holiday to enjoy our favourite northmost village of Iceland called Siglufjordur. We drove from Dalvík (30 mins drive from Akureyri) along the fjord and decided to test a new tunnel instead of driving the old mountain pass road.

This means that we would see an island Hrisey in the fjord from the road and see as far as Grindavik (a small fishing village on the other side of Eyjafjordur). If the visibility is good one can even see Grimsey on the horizon (located above the Arctic circle). Before getting to Olafsfjordur, you drive in through a one-lane tunnel. We call it a tunnel of trolls as it looks like a cave inside and can be quite an experience to drive through it.
Having passed Olafsjordur, we carried on to a two-lane tunnel (more modern and much brighter than the first one) that gets you first to Hedinsfjordur (once a pristine fjord that was only accessible by boat) and then to Siglufjordur.

Our plan was to have nice breakfast in a local bakery and stroll around the town, visiting our friends (I used to live there for a year) and end the day with a quality dinner in a wonderful local restaurant Hanes Boy. Even-though, it was a public holiday (or maybe because of that), neither of the two places was open. There´s a must see in Siglufjordur and it is an exceptional museum (awarded many prizes). It was open and will be during this summer, so make sure you include a visit there in your plan. On top of this, there are also nice walking trails above the town with great views, so we definitely recommend.

All in all, summer should be more lively and places should be open, so we hope that you´ll enjoy your time in 'Siglo', once you make it here. Those interested in hiking in the mountains, you might easily stay a few days, making hikes every day and exploring local majestic mountains overlooking the fjord. Once leaving Siglo, you might consider the other way (heading west) towards Ketilas and either take the old mountain pass road or take the ringroad number 1 and stop by in Holar and Hofsos - (don´t forget about the pool there)on the way.