Journal: Nov 8 – Reykjahlíð, Iceland
Iceland fueled my obsession with turf houses. I never grasped how quaint and quirky the houses were until I stumbled across Víðimýrarkirkja, one of the six turf churches left in Iceland.
Goosebumps covered my arms as I admired the church. There was something hauntingly beautiful about the stark contrast between the black-and-red church and the misty mountains looming in the background. Capped with Celtic symbols and a cross, this was a religious space unfamiliar to me. Yet, I craved to sit inside the sod walls and listen to what would be preached from the pulpit — if they had one.
The crisp morning grew a little harsher, so I quickly retreated to the Ceed-kick.
Following Highway 1 similar scenery surrounded me. The ochre yellow fields, now a warm copper-brown, edged the Ring Road. Again, there was no shortage of sheep or ponies in my peripherals. I edged further away from the Arctic Ocean and Iceland’s fjords.
Cruising down Highway 1, I saw a sign that said historic stop ahead. As I peered to my right, I squealed when I pulled into a turf house museum.
The turf houses had pristine coast of white and yellow paint on the exterior. The brightly painted wood siding echoed in similarity to the traditional Scandinavian fishing homes I’ve seen previously. Next door was a grey stoic church with a cheery red roof to welcome visitors.
The turf houses clustered together in small mounds as if they were huddling together for warmth. Together their roofs formed jagged waves covered in sod. They looked out onto a beautiful Icelandic mountain range. The sky foggy and whitewashed with snowing clouds overhead.
After my countryside excursions, I went to explore Iceland’s “Capital of the North,” Akureyri, also the fifth largest city in Iceland.
A small harbor welcomed me as I made my way into the “bustling” metropolis. Akureyri is embedded in the side of a small mountain. Looking at the city from afar it looks as though different terraces make up Akureyri’s neighborhood. Each neighborhood settled in its own tier. The city forms a U-shape around the small lake that connects kilometers away to the Arctic Ocean.
The lampposts flicked on as I entered the town, so I couldn’t waste time dwaddling. The houses in Akureyri were bolder than those I had seen in the other fishing towns. They daringly boasted pastel shades and not the ordinary bright primary hues most fishing homes adorned.
The city had other quirks like heart-shaped stop lights and steep streets that felt like climbing up the mountainside. This is one time the Ceed-kick struggled. I desperately wanted to spend more time exploring the shops of Akureyri and tasting delicious Icelandic food, but my daylight was nearly gone.
My final stop for the day was at Grjótagjá. Another Game of Thrones filming locating that I was oblivious to. The snow had started to fall so I decided to note climb the potentially slippery cavernous steps with no additional light. Instead, I ventured nearly to the Mývatn Nature Baths. I decided to unplug and bask in Iceland’s iconic geothermal goodness.
The flakes swarmed around me and frosted my hair. The delicious heat that rose from the muddy surface and teal-hued water which enveloped me saved me from the shivering, Arctic temperatures.
I spend the night with Oli at his homestay. He was a former drummer and performer who told me stories of his time in Africa and abroad. Now an artist, Oli opened up his home to me and shared his nature-inspired artwork.
I awoke in the night to see another North Lights display briefly flit across the sky.