Posted by: jeanne | July 11, 2014

a day trip to akureyri

akureyri is the capital of north iceland; so says everybody.  and it’s a small town by any standard.  but it still has several malls, and more extensive grocery stores, and two hardware stores, and two art supply stores.  so when i found out that siggi and alice were planning a trip, i jumped up and down until they said i could go.  that was this tuesday.

we left olafsfjordur at 10 in the morning.  it takes an hour to get there, starting with a tunnel thru the mountain and then going the coast road all the way up eyjafjordur, the longest fjord in iceland.  it’s beautiful, with snowy mountains on both sides, and this cute little island in the middle, which has an artist residency that i was tempted to apply for (but now i’m glad i didn’t, because who wants to be stuck on an island when you have snowy mountains all around that you can’t get to?).

the first stop was vinbudinn, the liquor and wine and beer store.  i got two four-packs of guinness, one of the other residents got gin.  i had been warned in my research that it’s best to get your liquor and wine at the duty free shop on the way into the country, so i got three bottles of wine, which is the maxium allowed.  but i still love my guinness, so now i have 7 of them to last the rest of my stay.  if i ration them…

we went to the art supply store after that.  cosima, one of the residents, wanted to get some drawing paper in a large size.  they gleefully informed her that they were out of stock in loose paper right now, but were expecting a big shipment in august, so we should come back then.  poor cosima.

then we were dropped off on the main street for some touring, and arranged to meet siggi and alice at 2:00 in the afternoon.  it was raining a little.  i had been talking up the indian curry hut since i got to olafsfjordur, and will, one of the other residents, decided he’d come with me for an early lunch.  we sat in a tiny little used-to-be hotdog stand and had the best prawn curry with nan bread that i’ve ever eaten.  i packed up half of it to bring home, and then had to be very careful the rest of the day not to spill it all over everything.  i was very careful.

then it was time to hit the bookstore, where paperbacks cost $30.  i got three, the hitman’s guide to housecleaning by a famous icelandic author, and two more in the series of thora the detective in spite of herself, by another famous icelandic author.  ripping good reads, plus i can’t read icelandic so the books at the residency aren’t for me.  there was a lot of touristy stuff, sweaters, gloves, tshirts.  everything was very expensive.

again i didn’t feel like tourist shopping.  let the tourists buy stuff, i’m here to make art and act like an artist.  so i walked around for a few minutes, but it was more fun watching a guy sit knitting bowties in front of the bookstore/cafe.


when siggi and alice picked us up and we went to the red cross secondhand store, right across the street from the salvation army store, i walked in like a real shopper.  i got a used lopapeysa sweater (all icelanders wear them, not just tourists) for $20 bucks, which is a tenth the price of a new one, and a cute little icelandic sweater for grandson connor for $2, etc etc etc.  i bought some large coffee cups because the residency just has delicate tea cups and i just can’t cope.  i also bought some plant pots for some seeds i hope to germinate and give to alice and lara, my best buddies in olafsfjordur.

then we went to the large grocery store in town, and stocked up with things we all needed.  and then we went to one of the malls, where cosima had to shell out big bucks for hiking boots, because hers had developed serious holes, and they didn’t have her size in the used clothing stores.  and while we were there i went to the health food store and bought birch and lupin, both touted by the locals as powerful anti cancer remedies.

our last stop was the hardware store, where i needed exterior paint for the wall mural i’m going to do on the building opposite, as well as a steaming tube for the silk painting class i’ll be teaching next weekend.  you can see the tube being strapped to the top of the car.  there was no room inside with all our purchases.  it’s plastic, also.  turns out that even tho stovepipes are cheap and plentiful in the states, nobody uses woodstoves, or coal stoves, or peat stoves here; they all use geothermal heating systems that even heat the floors in their houses.  and boy is it cheap, the equivalent of a soft drink per month’s heating.


and then we raced the rain back toward olafsfjordur, stopping only at hjalteyri to visit some artist friends of siggi’s.  i didn’t go inside, but walked around the old fishing complex that had been turned into an art center, and got this picture:


i took several time lapse pictures of the hour long ride, here and here.  by the time we got home, we’d spent 8 hours on our little day trip, which made me reevaluate my desire to rent a car and go off to asbyrgi, dettifoss and myvatn on another day trip.  we’ll see…


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