Iceland | Ísafjörður – The Fjord of Ice

Still being completely out-of-order after the extremely tiring excursion to all these wonderful places around Akureyri, it was almost unfair towards Isafjordur that my body was screaming for a little rest. And so my adventurousness was limited to a stroll through the picturesque harbor village and along the fjord´s shore.

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After we had departed Akureyri the night before, I had trouble falling asleep. Even though every inch of my body was aching.

A wonderful thing of my outside cabin was the fact that in front of my window (which could actually be opened!), there was a little sill that offered just enough room to fit me in.

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So it was the most wonderful pass-time to sit there right by the window and watch the Icelandic sea pass by. From time to time, I was even able to watch birds fishing or whales passing by in the distance.

And with the sky never really turning black, the eternal summer gave just enough light so that I was not to miss a thing.

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We reached Isafjördur in the early morning hours. It was cold and damp outside and it must have heavily rained after I had finally fallen asleep.

The teak decks were soaked and the wooden hand railings were covered with raindrops when I went outside to take a first look before my first cup of coffee.

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The town was still asleep. Just here and there were the first fishermen who prepared their boats. Holding the steaming hot cup with coffee in my hands, I enjoyed the silence around me and watched them performing their early morning routine.

Isafjördur is the largest village in the West fjord region. That sounds almost funny with a maximum population of only around 2,600, doesn´t it?

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The West fjords are known to be the coolest area in Iceland at sea level. Ísafjörður has a tundra climate closely bordering on a subarctic climate.

It is characterized by cold winters and cool summers and the warmest month is July with a mean temperature of 9.9 °C

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With its infrastructure (the largest fisheries in Iceland and an airport that provides two daily connections to Reykjavik), the town is the main hub to the West fjord region and a popular tourist destination.

One of the most popular sights around is the Hornstrandir Peninsula which covers 580 km2 (220 sq mi) of tundra, fjord, glacier and alpine land with rich but fragile vegetation.

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Apart from this, Isafjördur has a relatively well established cultural side. It is home to the University Centre of the Westfjords, has an own hospital, a School of Music and hosts the Westfjord Heritage Museum.

It was also interesting to learn that the small town had gained major reputation for hosting a yearly festival, Aldrei fór ég suður, providing a platform for local musicians and bands from around Iceland and even from overseas.

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With one major hotel in the city center, it is also a popular layover for tourists who explore the island by car or by feet.

I noted quite a number of Americans around. Not a big surprise as the national airline, Icelandair, offers free stopovers for all passengers traveling through Iceland to the United States.

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Since I did not have anything big planned for the day, I took things slow and did not leave the ship before noon.

I actually called in at the first reasonable coffee shop around as it was a delight to finally have a decent cappuccino again for over a week.

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And it tasted so good. After over one and half week of strong, Russian style filter coffee, the creaminess of the steamed milk felt like liquid gold in my mouth.

And the Icelandic chocolate cake did the rest. So I just sat there for a little while, enjoyed the warmth of the place while listening to the young crowd exchanging their adventure stories.

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Afterwards, I took a small stroll through town. When you live in a highly developed, densely civilized area like most of us, it almost seems a bit surreal to see what life is like close to the Arctic circle.

I do not want to imagine how cold it can get here during the winters when it was only 6 degrees Celsius on this July´s summer day.

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I left town and turned left on the small street leading towards the mountains. Curious, elderly ladies peaked through their curtains and smiled when our eyes met.

Whatever you may heard of the Icelandic people, it is all true in terms of friendliness and hospitality. I am certain that the only reason why our Western world can sometimes be so harsh and unfriendly is the lack of space.

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How can you enjoy a moment of privacy when the whole world is constantly watching? Social Medias have definitely ruined the last frontier of pure happiness in our modern society.

I wonder what happiness means to the people living here. It obviously must be different from what we consider to make us feel blessed.

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The cloudy sky had finally broken up to reveal a wonderful shiny blue, yet the fierce wind was still reminding me that this was the coldest place year-round on Iceland.

The further I progressed on the road, the more silent it became around me. Apart from the lively twitter and chirrup of the many different birds around.

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Many of them took a  moment to land next to me. Obviously to check out who was new to the area and what my intentions were.

Apparently, I must not have been too exciting. Most of them disappeared after a quick inspection, but one. The little fella accompanied me for some time and made halt on various spruces along the way. Only when I decided to turn back to the ship to warm up again, little red forehead flew off.

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I was tired. And the only thing I could think of in this moment was to rest. That is quite a challenge to allow oneself to give in to personal longings when you know, that you might not be able to return to a place very soon.

And when you go back, you might miss quite an amount of wonderful experiences. A difficult decision, but in the end, my wornout body won.

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I made a quick halt at the local cemetery before boarding the ship again. It was a strange feeling to know, that some of these graves must have been at least a few hundred years old.

And that the bodies underneath have lived at a time, when this area was not so well developed like today. And they had succeeded to set the course for the region for the future. I think that is spectacular.

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Full of determination and willing to give their all. To fight all natural obstacles and overcoming them. To built a brighter future while not running away from the challenges that Nature would confront them with day by day.

That is just so romantic, isn´t it?

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We left during the early evening. I was wrapped up in my thick winter jacket and sat in one of the plastic chairs on the quarterdeck. While this had been a rather quiet day in terms of area exploration, it was definitely high in spiritual experiences.

One of my favorite side effects of travel is the learning. The questioning and comparing of the life we live in our world and the life of the people in the places that we visit.

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To see and understand that even though they seem to be different at first sight, in the end it is the essence of every human being to feel happy in the spot that he/she is in. No matter what the circumstances.

And that religion and belief have nothing to do with an impersonated divinity that is described in a book, but with the connection to Nature. The world that we live in. The energy that flows through everything. The stuff that true happiness is made of.

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I can get quite sentimental, I know. But like I mentioned before in one of the earlier posts about Iceland, this country has touched my inner soul. Everyone of us has a special place on this planet, some of you may have already found it, for some it is still out there.

But once you have discovered it, you must make certain to take hold of it. Because this is where you are able to connect to the strongest link that there will ever be: The union between you and the planet. True happiness…

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