Journal: Nov 8 – Reykjahlíð, Iceland

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 Glaumbær farmstead has been operating since 874 and where many prominent, historical figures call home

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. 

9 thoughts on “Journal: Nov 8 – Reykjahlíð, Iceland”

  • I love how the turf houses blend into the landscape with a small pop of color in the front. And the mountain backdrop makes it even more magical! The colorful homes in Akureyri are great too, plus the idea of heart shaped stop signs.

  • These turf churches in Iceland are so interesting, I didn’t even realize they were a thing. Akureyri also looks quaint, and I love that teal house that you photographed. Visiting the Myvatn Nature Baths is also on my list of thing to try, so it looks like a successful road trip overall.

  • Your visit along the north coast of Iceland sounds magical. Looks like you found so many turf structures! But my favorite description was of your visit to the Myvatn Nature Baths with the heat of the baths while snow fell. How fun!

  • Visiting Iceland is high on my list. The country has such great landscapes. Yes, turf houses is one of the beautiful houses, blending so well with the nature. It makes the landscape breathtaking. I would love to stay in one of the turf houses someday. Great post. Loved reading about it.

  • I visited Iceland last year but was unfortunately not to complete the entire Island and would love to go back soon. There are so many beautiful villages and small towns with so much character and this is one of those gems I must say. The turf houses are a signature touch to what the country has to offer and I must say I did see some and was just amazed at the beauty of it. The ones here do have some great views as well and they are complimented by the of the pristine coast of white and yellow paint on the exterior as you have described it. Thanks for sharing a great post and destination.

  • You are so right! I would also get goosebumps seeing the beautiful and ancient looking church with the mountains at the background. The pictures makes me visit the place soon. The landscape looks hauntingly beautiful. Want to visit Iceland soon.

  • I love to photograph houses in many different geographies and therefore these turf houses of Iceland are attracting me a lot. Loved those cluster of turf houses with exteriors of white and yellow. Also the houses in Akureyri with bright colors looks like a toy town. Iceland has pretty nature with lovely built up too.

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