Monday, 27 February 2017

A little France in the heart of Iceland: Fáskrúðsfjörður

Fáskrúðsfjörður sometimes known as Búðir is a small town with around 700 inhabitants in the East of Iceland, whose history greatly links to France.

A little France in the heart of Iceland: Fáskrúðsfjörður

The emblem of the town is a boat called Rex. Rex, you can easily see when you arrive at the town; at the west of the village, near the sports field. Einar Sigurðsson built this magnificent vessel; you can see a monument dedicated to him on the hill above Rex. Kolfreyjustaður is the locality of a small church built in 1878. The tale goes that the giant Kolfreyja lived nearby, and she would frighten parish priests whenever the opportunity arose. To the east of Fáskrúðsfjörður, several waterfalls are hidden along the roadside; the most popular is undoubtedly Gilsárfoss because you can walk behind the fall. The walk along the river Gilsa takes about a quarter of an hour. South Fjord of Fáskrúðsfjörður is the hamlet of Hafnarnes, a small village of fishermen settled there in the early twentieth century. In the sixties, many fishermen left the fishing scene, and the hamlet was found abandoned in seventies.

A little France in the heart of Iceland: Fáskrúðsfjörður

The French Project focuses on preserving the heritage of the French fishermen and sailors who were an important part of the Fáskrúðsfjörður community in the 19th century. The project was set up to restore, among others things, five of the buildings constructed at the time by the French: the hospital, the doctor's house, the hospital, the mortuary and chapel. All buildings, except for the doctor's house, have been moved or rebuilt. The French hospital at Fáskrúðsfjörður, built in 1903, is one of the main French heritage buildings in the region. The hospital was removed from its location in the town in 1939 and moved to Hafnarnes. From 1939 to 1964 the hospital served as a school and then after that remained abandoned. In 2010, the hospital was handed over to its place of origin and was restored thanks to Minjavernd, the institution of the Icelandic heritage. The restoration of the hospital is complete since 2014, and the building is now a museum and a hotel. The morgue rebuilt in its entirety, is the replica of the original morgue, except that today it is used as an office.

A little France in the heart of Iceland: Fáskrúðsfjörður

To the east of the village, there is a cemetery where the 49 French and Belgian sailors who lost their lives in Iceland or on its coast were laid to rest. The cemetery is easily accessible by a small path. Every year homage is paid to the missing sailors; during the French Days Festival. This festival, created in 1996, offers many activities, both Icelandic, and French throughout Fáskrúðsfjörður. In the village, street names and the various signs are in both languages - Icelandic and French.

Fáskrúðsfjörður is a twin town with the town Gravelines in the North of France.

A little France in the heart of Iceland: Fáskrúðsfjörður

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Visit the landscape of "Independent People": Vopnafjörður

Vopnafjörður is a bay and small village in the northeast of Iceland, located halfway between Þórshöfn, Egilsstadir and Kolbeinstangi Peninsula. 700 people live there all year-round. Vopnafjörður's nature varies between fertile land, beaches, sharp rocks and mountains. The famous novel Independent People, by Halldór Laxness, was partly inspired by the landscape in Vopnafjörður.

Visit the landscape of "Independent People": Vopnafjörður

In the fjord, there are three main valleys, Hofsárdalur to the south, Selárdalur to the north, and Vesturárdalur, where there are many rivers full of salmon. On the other side of the fjord, a string of impressive mountains, revealing the mountains Krossavík and Smjörfjöll "butter mountains," which are the highest. The sandy beach Sandvík is a delightful place. This region is abundant in agriculture even though many farms were left abandoned there in the early twentieth century.

Visit the landscape of "Independent People": Vopnafjörður

Norwegian Vikings first colonized the Bay in the tenth century. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Vopnafjörður was a port overflowing with activity, and today the fishing industry remains the most predominant activity in the area. You can get an idea of what Vopnafjörður looked like between the eighteenth and the early twentieth century by visiting the museum Bustarfell, about twenty kilometers from the village of Tangi, in the Hofsárdalur Valley. The museum displays a house made of peat; one of the oldest and best preserved in Iceland. The museum is open from June 10th through til September 10th, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visit the landscape of "Independent People": Vopnafjörður

Near the museum, there's a little cafe, a small pen with animals, and also, a path that leads to the "rock fairy", where there is Icelandic guide available to tell stories and legends about the region. You can see a beautiful view of the fjord from the rock fairy.

The area has no shortage of history regarding Icelandic culture. The writer Gunnar Gunnarsson (1889-1975) grew up in the farm Ljótsstaðir in the Vesturárdalurm Valley, a few kilometers from Vopnafjörður. He had in his time a strong following, especially in Denmark and Germany. You will also find an exhibition presenting the music, theater, and literature by the brothers Jón Árnason Muli and Jónas Árnason, both born in Vopnafjörður. The exhibition, opened in 2008 and is set in a beautiful old renovated building, near the village port and opens daily in summer and by appointment in winter.

Visit the landscape of "Independent People": Vopnafjörður

Many historic homes are visible in Vopnafjörður, especially around the village square, "plássið". Near the town shops are the oldest houses in the village: Guðjohnssenshús, also called Jadar, built in 1880; Baldursheimur, "the home of Einar" (a young village doctor who died suddenly after serving only three years in the community), built in 1883 and Kaupvangur the following year. All buildings are the design of architect Frederic Bald, who is known to have supervised the construction of the parliament in Reykjavik, Althing. The village has a grocery store, two cafes, a school, a gym, a swimming pool (of course!), a bank, a camping site, a hotel, a few guesthouses and even a small airport, which often connects the village to Akureyri.

One feature of Vopnafjörður is its relationship with the United States and Canada -many Icelanders from this region emigrated there between 1850 and 1914, hoping to find a better life. The Vopnafjörður of emigration center helps Icelandic-Americans and Icelandic-Canadians trace back their ancestors, and encourages them to learn more about their history.

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Thursday, 23 February 2017

The jewel Gerpir - A paradise for hiking in Iceland

Neskaupstaður is a town in East Iceland, located in the fjord Nordfjordur, with 1500 inhabitants. When you visit this town in Reyðarfjörður, go to the Gerpir area, it's a real paradise for hikers, kayakers, and nature lovers. The Ferðafélag Fjarðamanna association has made vital efforts to create marked trails in the area. You can find a detailed map of walks and hikes in shops or at the Gerpir tourist office.

The jewel Gerpir - A paradise for hiking in Iceland

Gerpir is in East Iceland along with the 661 meters high Gerpir mountain, the oldest mountain in Iceland - around twelve million years old, dating back to the stone age and the discovery of basalt. This place delights geologists because it's full of stones and majestic rocks with cliffs facing the Atlantic Ocean. The areas north, south and inland towards the west are completely uninhabited today and popular for hiking.

Beautiful Vöðlavík Creek, with its white sand beach (a rarity in Iceland!), where once farms stood is now abandoned land today, many travelers like to walk through who wish to get away from daily life. To get there, you take the track leading from Reyðarfjörður. Note that only 4x4 vehicles can take that route. Not far away, south of the mountain Gerpir, the traveler's association east of Iceland has a hut in Karlsstaðir, it is possible to spend the night there (with reservation and payment, of course). The hut is only a few steps from the beach, and if it's too chilly to swim in the ocean, you will find the nearby river at a more pleasant temperature.

The jewel Gerpir - A paradise for hiking in Iceland

Gerpir has some interesting tales surrounding it. Legend has it that the Creek Vöðlavík was the scene of dramatic events when a ship was stranded there in December 1993. Fortunately, everyone on board was rescued. In January 1994, during a storm, a boat trying to save another ship ran aground near the creek and one person drowned. A US military helicopter from the base at Keflavík Airport rescued the remaining crew, and later the mission was considered one of Iceland's bravest rescue missions. That day, when the wind was incredibly strong with minimum visibility, the crew of the wrecked ship was pulled up in the US military helicopter and taken to the nearby town of Neskaupstaður. The landing took place in a parking lot in the middle of the city.

The jewel Gerpir - A paradise for hiking in Iceland

You can go to the beautiful bay of Sandvík through the neck of Sandvíkurskarð; there's a marked path that starts from Stuðlar, that takes three hours walking. Sandvík Bay north of the Gerpir area is abandoned today, once sheltered Iceland's easternmost settlement and is home to the famous ghost Glæsir. Also nicknamed "the elegant elephant", Glæsir is recognizable by his clothes and neat appearance, good manners, and politeness. They say he greets everyone he meets on his way by politely removing his head as you would a hat.

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Petrol stations in Iceland. Useful tips

Since the economic crisis in Iceland in 2008 when the value of the Icelandic money weakened, Iceland became a more affordable place for travelers, pushing thousands of people to come to see why Iceland is the amazing country of which everyone speaks. A vast majority of travelers rent cars and go around the island, so we thought a little guide on service stations and gasoline in Iceland would be rather helpful.

Petrol stations in Iceland. Useful tips

You can find service stations throughout the country, except in the highlands of Iceland. Check your route and be prepared, you should not be driving more than 250 kilometers without finding a petrol station on your way. N1, Olis, Atlantsolia, Skeljungur are all service stations in Iceland spread around the country; their prices vary, gasoline and diesel are much less expensive in winter, below 200 crowns per liter (1.40 €). In the summer season, you have to pay around 250 kroner (€ 1.80) per liter. You can keep track of prices on this website: www.bensinverd.is

In some gas stations, especially in the Reykjavík, you pay one price for filling your gas tank yourself and a bit more if you wish to have an employee do it for you. Some service stations are automatic -those at Atlantsolia, for example, all are, and will only accept debit or credit cards. To use these automated stations, insert your credit card into the machine provided, type your code if necessary ( not always), then the maximum amount you wish to pay for gasoline or diesel for your car. The machine will return your card at the time. Fill your tank, and when you reach the maximum amount, the pump will stop (it will stop before full if done). To print the ticket, you have to insert your credit card again into the machine.

Petrol stations in Iceland. Useful tips

You can also buy pre-paid cards with the amount of your choice, but make sure the petrol station you have chosen is available on the roads on your route. Usually, in your rented car, you have a map that shows where the gas stations are located all over the country, but the pre-paid card doesn't specify which.

Petrol Station at Modrudalur

In Iceland, petrol stations are also places to hang out with friends; providing groceries, fast food restaurants, hot drinks, similar to the atmosphere at the Icelandic pool, people meet there to chat, eat ice cream ... In the larger service stations, you will have several fast-food chains available, a grocery store, a small souvenir shop and even an information point.

Petrol stations in Iceland. Useful tips

Useful links:

www.n1.is

www.atlantsolia.is

www.skeljungur.is

www.olis.is

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Visit Hauganes - Silence and relax in Iceland

It was a surprise for me to see the small village Hauganes following me on Twitter and starting its promotion as a tourist destination. I passed by Hauganes by chance a few days ago after I was told there isn't much to do there. Visit Hauganes! its tourism marketing efforts proved me wrong.

The slogan of the village of Hauganes, "A village so quiet you can hear your inner voice", speaks volumes. This small village of 137 inhabitants in Eyjafjörður sits halfway between Akureyri and Dalvík. Its name comes from Old Norse haugr, which means hill. Fishing is the main activity in the village and also, tourism seems to be growing. The website states "Hauganes is also a popular tourist destination”


Hauganes has a small industry that produces salted fish (Ektafiskur). There is a brasserie restaurant serving sea food specialties (Baccalá bar, open only in summer), three houses Airbnb accommodation for tourists, and offers whale watching excursions -an excellent way to discover the beautiful surroundings and with a little luck, you can spot whales and seals. The village is very close to the beautiful small island of Hrísey; I urge you to go during your visit in the north of Iceland.

Visit Hauganes - Silence and relax in Iceland

Hauganes boasts about being an ideal destination for peace and quiet -a commodity; I must say, which is becoming increasingly rare in the Icelandic summer. With the ocean, the birds and the wind, it is true that Hauganes may be the ideal place to relax and take your time - there's no hurry.

One activity in Hauganes takes you through the fisheries in the region and invites you to discover the history of local fishing -with shark tasting. This event called "the Ektafiskur experience" is only available for groups of ten or more. For others, you can always join an excursion and go fishing with professionals, and hope to catch cod, haddock or halibut. You can also take your rod and try to catch your dinner from the pier.

Visit Hauganes - Silence and relax in Iceland

Walking in the village you will discover some surrounding wonders of Eyjafjörður, like Mount Kaldbakur, or the Þorvaldsdalur Valley, a few kilometers west of the village. This valley, uninhabited since 1979, is known for its 20 kilometres hike, you can also look in on the event Þorvaldsalsskokk that takes place the first week of July. In winter, avalanche risks are frequent, and it is imperative to follow the advice of locals and inform someone of your route if you decide to venture out there in the snow.

Another easy walk four kilometres (one way) takes you to the nearby village of Litli Árskógssandur, or you can, optionally, visit the local Kaldi brewery, where the ferry takes you to the pretty Hrísey!

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Whale watching in Reykjavik! A few tips

Iceland is an ideal destination for observing whales. Iceland's cold waters are conducive to a vast and varied marine life. Whale watching usually happens between the months of April and September when more than twenty species of mammals are basking in Icelandic waters. Among them eight species are often spotted during the whale watching excursions. In winter you can also go on tours, but whale species are fewer and that narrows your chances of seeing a whale. But on the other hand, this time of year increases your chances of seeing the Northern Lights from the sea!

Whale watching in Reykjavik!

Some interesting facts Icewhale reported on their excellent site www.icewhale.is:

The first excursion for whale watching was in 1991.

The success rate for whale watching in summer is 90%.

The number of species you can expect to find in Iceland are 23.

22% of tourists visiting Iceland attend a whale watching excursion.

A few tips:

Remember that it is often cold at sea, even in summer; whale watching agencies provide travellers with warm suits, but be warmly dressed below your suit and take gloves and hat with you.

The tours usually last three hours, and if some boats have an indoor area where you can keep warm, sit back and enjoy a hot drink. A cozy indoor area is something to remember when booking your whale watching tour, especially if you are traveling with children.

Whale watching in Reykjavik!

Five agencies can take you whale watching in Reykjavik. Educate yourself well on different excursions and the services they provide. They are all near the harbour, near the city centre, across the road from the flea market Kolaportið.

From Reykjavík it is possible to go whale watching throughout the year; you will observe different species depending on the season. In the summer whale watching is more pleasant, and you will surely have the chance to see puffins during your trip. Winter, the weather is more uncertain and visibly reduced, but Bay Faxa (Faxaflói in Icelandic) is beautiful in winter.

Some species of mammals you can see during excursions:

Whale watching in Reykjavik!

The blue whale, which can be up to 27 meters long and weigh 120 tons, is the largest animal ever known, and its tail is eight meters wide, like a football field! Most often, you can see blue whales in the northern end of Iceland from April to early September and it even occurs that you see them around the Snaefellsnes peninsula and in autumn around the Reykjanes Peninsula.

The humpback whale, one of the species that we encounter very often on a trip, can grow up to 17 meters long and go to a speed of 27 kilometres per hour. Humpback whales are very active and acrobatic; we see them most often in the north of Iceland in the summer, but they travel more to the south of Iceland in winter, from January to April.

Whale watching in Reykjavik!

The white-beaked dolphin is a social animal that loves acrobatics -it is not uncommon to see them swimming near the boats. The white-beaked dolphins are in substantial quantity in Icelandic waters, especially at the end of winter (March) with their young.

The orca, a member of the dolphin family, can grow up to eight meters long and weigh eight tons. It's a fast animal that can go up to 50 kilometres per hour. The famous killer whale Keiko, star of the movie "Free Willy," was captured in Icelandic waters in 1979 and was returned to the same place nearly twenty years later. Orcas can be seen most often in Iceland during the winter months and early summer, particularly near the Reykjanes Peninsula area and the Westman Islands.

Whale watching in Reykjavik!

After your tour, take the opportunity to have lunch or dinner at one of the excellent restaurants or cafes along Reykjavík's harbour.

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Monday, 13 February 2017

The Árbaer Museum. Get to know the Icelandic lifestyle!

Árbærsafn is an outdoor museum located in Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital. Made up of over twenty buildings that form a central square, a village, and farm, the museum aims to show the Icelandic way of life at different times. The museum is on the site of the former Árbær farm in 1957.

The Árbaer Museum in Reykjavik. Get to know the Icelandic lifestyle!

From 1 June to 31 August, the museum is open daily, from 10 am to 17 h. The rest of the year, it is possible to attend tours at 13:00 hr daily; it is also feasible to visit the museum at other times by appointment. Admission is 1,500 kroner (11 euros) per person and free for children under 18 years.There are many events held during the year, such as the crafts days, the annual exhibition of old vehicles or the Christmas show.

In summer, do not be surprised to see sheep and goats wandering around the gardens of the museum. There is also a souvenir shop, a charming café (home of Dillon) and also a library on the premises.

The Árbaer Museum in Reykjavik. Get to know the Icelandic lifestyle!

Among the buildings that can be admired at the museum Árbær you will find:

The farm Árbær: is the only building in its original place, the farm gave its name to the outdoor museum.

Laugavegur 62: the building where you buy your entry tickets in the museum is the original house, was once located on the main street of Reykjavík.

The professor's home is now the administrative building at the Museum of Árbær but was once a residence for the head of the department of the Klepper psychiatric hospital.

Landakot (or house ÍR): built in 1897 to serve as Catholic Church, the first since the reform. Later the building served as a gym.

Laufasvegur: this building was a gift from the British Embassy, and the museum received it in the 1960s Today, this house is the residence of museum guard and his family.

Suðurgata 7: first located in the center of Reykjavík, the building divides into three sections: a wealthy family home of 1910 is open for visits, a jeweler shop and one can see an exhibition of the different styles of clothing for women according to the times.

Lækjargata 4 is currently the building that presents the history of Reykjavik and is also the store office.

The barn: a typical town centre barn seen in the nineteenth century.

Efstibær: the home of a nineteenth-century worker, also presenting an exhibition on living conditions during the Great Economic Depression of 1929.

Thingholtsstraeti 9: This XIXth century house presents the life of the family that lived there just after its construction.

The Árbaer Museum in Reykjavik. Get to know the Icelandic lifestyle!

The blacksmith's house and that tells you everything.

Hábær and Miðhús: Houses that were originally homes to workers-farmers who do not own land. The first is a house in half made of stone.

Nissen hut: a hut from World War II, which serves as storage.

Ívarssel: Originally the home of a famous captain, the building is being renovated.

The Abattoir: a factory from the nineteenth century which describes the construction techniques in Reykjavík between the years 1840-1940.

The Árbaer Museum in Reykjavik. Get to know the Icelandic lifestyle!

Forge a replica of a forge built in the 1960s.

The scout hut: the first hut for scouts made in Iceland.

The church and rectory, the church comes from the North of Iceland and can be rented for various religious events. The rectory is from the 1960s.

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

7 day hiking trip in Eastern Iceland - Trip report

Below you will see a seven-day hiking schedule we’ve compiled to guide you through this popular 80 kilometres long walk in the East of Iceland.

Day 1: Snæfell

There is no public transport to the Snæfell mountain hut "Snæfellsskáli"(GPS 46 ° 48.250 to 15 ° 38.510). If hiking alone and wish to have transport, contact a travel agency in the region to arrange transportation. Snæfellsskáli shelter accommodates up to 62 people, is heated and comes equipped with sleeping mattressses and kitchen utensils, and has a similar layout to most shelters you might encounter when trekking. If it's good weather, a climb to the summit of Snæfell mountain is worth the effort, the magnificent view of the region is breathtaking. Not including Iceland's glaciers, Snæfell at 1833 meters high is the highest mountain in Iceland.a

7 day hiking trip in Eastern Iceland - Trip report

Day 2: Bjálfafell - Geldingafell

Distance: 20 km - Estimated walking time: 8-10 hours. The hike begins at the Hill Bjálfafell, then twelve kilometers after leaving the shelter Snæfellsskáli you will pass over the glacier walking along Eyjabakkajökull to the Geldingafell hut, which accommodates up to 16 people (GPS 64 ° 41.690 to 15 ° 21.690). You can stay several nights at the shelter and make small hikes in the area.

7 day hiking trip in Eastern Iceland - Trip report

Day 3: Geldingafell - Kollumúlavatn

Distance: 15 km - Estimated walking time: 7-9 hours. The third day takes you from Geldingafell shelter at Lake Kollumúlavatn; you might like to take a detour to admire the beautiful waterfall of Jökulsá í Loni. When you get to the refuge at Kollumúlavatn (accommodates 22 people) (GPS 64 ° 36.680 to 15,108.750), you’ll feel welcomed for the night.

Day 4: Víðidalur

Distance: 12 km - Estimated walking time: 8 hours. The fourth day is usually spent hiking around the hut at Kollumúlavatn and also the Víðidalur Valley. It's a beautiful deserted valley, where people once lived, the last inhabitants left the area in the early twentieth century. Here you will find ruins in a beautiful landscape. East Iceland is just amazing!

7 day hiking trip in Eastern Iceland - Trip report

Day 5: Kollumúlavatn - Múlaskáli

Distance: 6 km - Estimated walking time: 6-8 hours. Northwest of the Kollumúlavatn shelter, in the Sandar area, you will find a collection of rocks formed by wind and erosion named Appellees Tröllakrókar, "trolls arrows." The trail then descends into a small birch forest where you can then follow the river Jökulsá to the Múlaskáli shelter that accommodates 25 people (GPS 64 ° 33.199 to 15 ° 09.077). Around the shelter, there are many opportunities to make small hikes.

Day 6: Múlaskáli - Illikambur

There are two kilometers from the hut Múlaskáli to Illikambur. On Illikambur, you can spend several days doing short walks; if you head west until Rauðhamar you can admire Öxarfellsjökull, the most glacial tongue is the Vatnajokull glacier. You may wish to conclude your hiking trip and organize your return from there, or take the remaining 25 kilometers to the farm Statafell.

7 day hiking trip in Eastern Iceland - Trip report

Day 7: Illikambur - Stafafell

Distance: 25 km - Estimated walking time: 10 hours. You will need to cross the river Jökulsá í Loni to join the farm Stafafell at the end of your hike. You will find the shelter at Eskifell just before crossing the river.

Iceland24 
© All rights reserved

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Sea swimming in Iceland. Feel icelandic!

It is understandable that bathing in the North Atlantic Ocean, off the shores of Iceland, is not a very popular tourist activity, yet one can enjoy many health benefits from taking a dip in the Icelandic sea, which are even mentioned in the Sagas. It is believed that Grettir Ásmundarson travelled seven kilometres by swimming in northern Iceland. The water is permanently on the chilly side, temperatures rarely go above 12 degrees!

Sea swimming in Iceland. Feel icelandic!

But there is nothing like taking a cold swim in the sea, followed immediately by a relaxing soak in a hot tub ... which you can do at the geothermal beach, Nauthólsvík. After swimming in the sea, where temperatures vary from -2 degrees in winter, to about 12 degrees in summer (a little higher than average, due to geothermal water flowing into the bay), you can bask in a hot bath with temperatures around 40 degrees. Icelanders truly believe that cold sea water swimming is good for your wellbeing, and they are right: cold water helps the blood circulate and makes you feel energised. Alternating between hot and cold water is especially good for the circulation system. All year round, groups gather at Nauthólsvík to enjoy both the cold sea and a hot water bath afterwards. Every year on the first of January, locals meet to take part in a traditional new year swim, which is a perfect hangover cure.

Nauthólsvík

You can swim in the sea anywhere in Iceland during the summer, provided the weather conditions are right and you are familiar emergency numbers. This summer I met a fifty-year-old woman who was swimming in the cold sea off the pretty little island of Hrísey and was trying to convince her friends to join her in this icy water. She carried a thermometer with her which indicated that the water was at 11 degrees, and assured me that at the beginning of the season the same water was only 1 degree! She seemed quite at ease, but her companions could not stick it and only managed to stay in the water for a minute or two. She quietly continued to swim for nearly ten minutes, whilst receiving a few stunned looks! This lady, who lives on the island, does not bathe in the sea in winter, because the currents are too dangerous, but there is no doubt that the cold sea bathing does a great deal of good to her health.

Sea swimming in Iceland. Feel icelandic!

The film "Djúpið" by Baltasar Kórmakur tells the true story of an Icelandic sailor, Guðlaugur Friðþórsson (born in 1961), who survived swimming for six hours in water that was only 5 degrees, near the coast off the Westmann islands, after his fishing vessel was wrecked.

Sea swimming in Iceland. Feel icelandic!

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Monday, 6 February 2017

5 extreme sports in Iceland - What to do in Iceland

Skydiving

Skydiving involves jumping from a small plane and free falling a hundred meters from the earth and then using a parachute to land safely on the ground. In Iceland, there is (as far as I know) only one professional skydiving operator, Skydive. The company offers skydiving courses and parachute jumps, one or both. The aircraft used is a Cessna 206, but on some occasions, it is possible to jump from a DC-3 or a helicopter.

The agency Skydive operates from the small town Hella, South Iceland, just over an hour drive from the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik. It is possible to go skydiving from April to September when days are long and bright; opportunities are numerous.

www.skydive.is

5 extreme sports in Iceland - What to do in Iceland

Paragliding

I find paragliding a little less scary than skydiving and a very nice way to experience Iceland ... otherwise, you can go paragliding independently if you have experience, while remaining vigilant (especially of other flying machines and adverse weather conditions), or you can go through companies that specialize in paragliding. In Iceland there are no rules for this activity, you can fly and land where ever you wish. Agencies that offer paragliding tours advise people to go gliding around June 21st when the sun never sets, and there are even organized flights at midnight! Flights tandem or solo are available.

www.trueadventure.is

www.paragliding.is

5 extreme sports in Iceland - What to do in Iceland

Mountain biking

Mountains, glaciers, and volcanoes, cover more than half of Iceland making it the ideal location for mountain biking! The interior of the country is inaccessible in winter, in the summer time, it's a desert of black sand and lava fields. Lots of companies offer all-terrain bike tours taking you between mountains and marvelous landscapes. One activity that seems most attractive to those who love cycling is called "Glacier 360"; this is a tour of 290 km around the Langjokull glacier.

5 extreme sports in Iceland - What to do in Iceland

Snowmobiling

Vatnajökull is the largest glacier of the several glaciers scattered around Iceland, as well as many hills and mountains, creating an ideal playground for those who love to explore the Icelandic wilderness by snowmobile. The excursions are numerous and greatly vary depending on the company and weather conditions. The groups large or small, journey times vary in length. Well, you can get information about what excursions suits you best.

5 extreme sports in Iceland - What to do in Iceland

Rafting

In Iceland, it is possible to go rafting on the Hvita River in southern Iceland, and on the Jökulsá river in the north. The guides (who often come from Nepal, because it 's hard to find rafting specialists from Iceland) take you on the icy rivers of Iceland where adventure is guaranteed! Rafting is a fun activity for the whole family, and you don't need to be an expert to join a tour!

5 extreme sports in Iceland - What to do in Iceland

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Safety tips for travelling in Iceland - What to do in Iceland

No need panic or worry yourself silly, if you leave your car unlocked in Iceland or if you forgot your wallet at the restaurant - you will have a 95% chance to regain both intact. In Iceland, the danger comes from nature and erratic weather conditions.

Safety tips for travelling in Iceland - What to do in Iceland

While many travellers come to Iceland to visit the wonders, many are unaware that these wonders can be potential hazards. Icelandic nature, especially the weather, can be challenging and unpredictable. It is important to know the dangers you may encounter and prepare yourself.

Be ready

Do some research and learn how you can best make your route. Iceland is certainly a very different country from what you know, and a successful trip without incidents needs preparation months in advance. Talk to those around you who know Iceland, or on forums, or by contacting the tourist industry.

Driving in Iceland can be a challenge, especially in winter. Again, you must have done your research before you go. There is a main road that circles the island, then secondary roads and then, finally tracks (dirt roads). All roads in F are not accessible in winter and impassable without a 4x4 vehicle. Most secondary roads are not available in winter. In severe weather, some roads may close and reopen the next day or the day after in case of appalling weather. If your map indicates that a road is only accessible by 4x4, and you have a two-wheel drive car, do not venture there!

Safety tips for travelling in Iceland - What to do in Iceland

If you are traveling in winter off the beaten track or the main roads, give your itinerary to the Icelandic Association of lifeguards through their website. To travel in the highlands of Iceland, a map, a compass and a GPS are necessary accessories. You should never venture into the Icelandic highlands without consulting guides first and specialists who will advise you on how to proceed. If you plan to drive roads where there are rivers or streams, ask and listen to the advice of those who drove there before you. Do not attempt to cross a river if you're not 100% sure they can reach the other shore. When in doubt, you can wait until morning because streams and rivers are always smaller and a little less deep by noon.

Be ready for anything. Check the weather and road conditions. Often. All the time! The temperature outside can be a few degrees one minute; suddenly snow is falling. So, when you go for a walk, don't leave your jacket behind on the pretext that the sky is beautiful and cloudless. Be willing to change your plans even if it was a long time dream of yours, and completely revise your route if necessary. Be ready for adventure!


Think!

Always check road conditions on the website of the Icelandic Road Administration, www.road.is. Road conditions can change very quickly, and an open road can close for a few hours. If you drive gently on a road, and more and more snow is falling, and you're afraid to get stuck; turn around and check road conditions if you can. There is a chance that the road you've taken is closed, and in some sections, there is a sign that reads "ófært" (impassable). Most roads do not bear this sign, and so it's up to the people travelling in these conditions to educate themselves.

Safety tips for travelling in Iceland - What to do in Iceland

Do not rely too much on your GPS and check the proposed route is typed correctly. At the end of 2015, an American tourist became a star in Iceland because he found himself in Siglufjörður, a small village north of Iceland, instead of the Icelandic capital some 500 kilometres further south, all because of 'a typo.

Do not venture on a glacier without a guide, or on icebergs at Jökulsárlón, for it is foolish and very dangerous.

Do no evil

Follow instructions. If a road is closed, do not venture out there; if a storm is on its way, stay warm, even if you always wanted to see the east of Iceland. Do not climb a mountain in winter if you've no experience. You have no idea what you can expect in Iceland. The word storm takes on new meaning, the word loneliness and safe also ...

Observe the barriers and roads. In winter, the ground may be slippery and dangerous, especially near waterfalls. Beware of snow that can form a floor and give the impression that you are walking "on the hard" while snow can give way under your weight.

Safety tips for travelling in Iceland - What to do in Iceland

Do not underestimate the wind and watch the waves and the sea when you are on a beach. Recently a visitor drowned in Reynisfjara near Vik. Listen to the advice of local people because they know better than anyone else in their country about its dangers.

Familiarise yourself with emergency numbers and what to know. View sites and social networks often to keep you informed of possible severe weather, avalanches or other:

112
www.safetravel.is created by the Icelandic Lifeguard Association
www.en.vedur.is
www.road.is
@safeiniceland

Iceland24
© All rights reserved

The cozy fishing village Neskaupstaður - Eastern Iceland

Neskaupstaður in Nordfjordur fjord, is the largest municipality of Fjarðabyggð, with about 1500 inhabitants that mainly live from tourism and the fishing industry. Neskaupstaður originally built on a farm called "Nes," was occupied by Egill Rauði (“the red”). Like many cities and villages in eastern Iceland, Neskaupstaður was an important place of trade in the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, Neskaupstadur began to boom thanks to herring fishing that lead to the building of the Síldarvinnslan plant, that is now one of the most advanced fish processing plants in Europe - processing around 30,000 tons of fish per year, mainly for human consumption and employs over 200 people.

The cozy fishing village Neskaupstaður - Eastern Iceland

To get to Nordfjordur, take the road number 92 from the north, if you are traveling from the south, take road 96. The Museum house, Safnahúsið, presents the art collection of the artist Tryggvi Ólafsson, Iceland's best-known contemporary artist who was born in Nordfjordur in 1940, the Natural History Museum and the Maritime Museum. As for local art, you can admire art in the Gallery Thea ( best known for its clay horses), or the Nesbær Cafe regularly exhibits the work of local artists. For a bit of music, the club Brján offers blues, rock and jazz. Of course, like most of the towns and villages in Icelandic, Nordfjordur also has an outdoor public swimming pool.

The cozy fishing village Neskaupstaður - Eastern Iceland

Nordfjorður Nature Reserve is famous for its beautiful floral and fauna, and is also the perfect place for bird watching in the summertime. Other outdoor things to do in Nordfjordur are horse riding with the local company Skorrahestar, kayaking if you're in the mood and, of course, you can go sightseeing. There are impressive views from the rocks at Rauðubjörg ( unique for the purple colour) and from the cave Páskahellir, near the beach. Páskahellir, Easter Cave, is a small cave near the sea in the Neskaupstaður Nature Reserve, formed by sea erosion. The story goes that on Easter morning, you can see the sun dance from Páskahellir. With these caves among rock and lava, the Easter Cave is an exciting place to visit. While there you can see hole marks from ancient trees that were destroyed by lava more than twelve million years ago. To get down to visit Páskahellir, you need to walk about 15 minutes from the nature reserve entrance, you will then see wooden stairs that lead you on the right path -take care while taking the stairs, steps may be slippery.

The cozy fishing village Neskaupstaður - Eastern Iceland

The city of Neskaupstaður is also notorious for the avalanche that killed twelve people in 1974. Today, you can visit the structures that prevent deadly avalanches occurring and causing damage to the town. These structures are above the town, and from the top the panorama view of Neskaupstaður, and Nordfjordur is breathtaking.

The cozy fishing village Neskaupstaður - Eastern Iceland

Do not forget to visit the waterfall Hengifoss, the highest waterfall in Hellisfjörður at the bottom of Nordfjordur, located on the bay right in front of Neskaupstaður. In this fjord you can see the remains a whale station from the twentieth century.

Iceland24 
© All rights reserved

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Icelandic music. Top 10 albums to give a listen

We’re going off our usual path here to take you on a brief journey into the centre of Icelandic music.

Gling-Glo 
Björk and the Guðmundur Ingólfsson Trio

This 1990 album is the result of collaboration between Björk and jazz trio Guðmundur Ingólfsson. There is evidence of a confusing eclecticism, and the superstar Björk sings mostly in Icelandic. This album hasn't aged a bit, and its genre tends to suit every occasion and circumstance.

Icelandic music. Top 10 albums to give a listen

Homogenic
Björk

It is, of course, expected that Björk will be on our choice album list, but it's not easy to pick an album from her because there are so many. So I decided to Homogenic, just for the beautiful song "Bachelorette," whose lyrics were written by Sjón writer.

Icelandic music. Top 10 albums to give a listen

Ágætis byrjun 
Sigur Rós

This album put Iceland on the map for many of us (well for me at least). I still remember the first time I heard Svefn-g-Englar on local radio in France in 1999; the album starts with a guitar played with a violin bow.

Icelandic music. Top 10 albums to give a listen

Finally we are no one 
Múm

The group that represents Icelandic music for me is Múm. When listening to their music, one transports directly somewhere by the Icelandic sea. This 2012 album is the sweetest little music trip that Iceland will take you.

Gargandi Snilld the soundtrack

The soundtrack of this excellent documentary Screaming Masterpiece (the English title) -nothing but delightful especially for the beautiful composition Odin's raven magic by Sigur Rós and singer Steindór Andersen.

Icelandic music. Top 10 albums to give a listen

Haglél
Mugison

The album choice was difficult to choose, so I took into consideration the most talented musicians in Iceland. Mugison released his first album sung in Icelandic in 2011. It's as soft as a beautiful spring day in Iceland 2011 - with this in mind, listen (and try to understand) to the second song on the album.

Komdu til mín svarta systir 
Mammut

Mammut entered the music scene in Iceland by winning a music competition in 2004 and are known for their well-deserved success. The album appeared in 2013 and is only 35 minutes long. Grab the chance if you can to see Mammut in concert.

Icelandic music. Top 10 albums to give a listen

Retro Stefson 
Retro Stefson

The eponymous album Retro Stefson is simply a marvel, and this is coming from someone who's not a fan of electronic music. It is fresh, light, catchy and different. The album was released in 2012 and became a big success in Iceland. Well deserved success!

My Head is An Animal 
Of Monsters And Men

Okay, I admit that I hesitated to put this album on the list. When I started hearing about the group Of Monsters And Men, in 2011, they had already warmed up a small place on the Icelandic music scene, and the band members were just about to become international superstars. Okay, it was a crazy world with all the hype at their Iceland Airwaves concerts in 2011, when they played for free at "off-venues" Kex and Reykjavík Downtown Hostel. That certainly wouldn't happen today. I had my doubts about how they'd evolve, but let's admit that this first album is very pleasant, and for sure, it will remain in the annals of Icelandic music for a while.

Icelandic music. Top 10 albums to give a listen

For this tenth album choice, my heart is pulled between Reistu THIG Við Solin Er Komin Á Loft (For a Minor Reflection), Brostinn Stengur of Lay Low and Dýrð í dauðaþögn of Ásgeir Trausti; I'll leave it up to you guys to have a listen and make up your mind!

Iceland24
© All rights reserved