Iceland

– visited September 2014 –

Searching flights back home from New York after a year-long trip to (mostly) South America I noticed that Iceland Air has good offers. Better still, you can easily choose a stopover of several days.

Six days in Iceland turn out not to be an optimal amount of time. It is too long to hang around in Reykjavík (at least for me) and too short to properly circle the island along the ring road. I opt to head to Akureyri, the biggest town in northern Iceland. Transportation is something you have to plan carefully. The capital of Reykjavík (pop. 129,000) and Akureyri (pop. 19,000) are linked by only two buses each day.

I move on to Reykjahlíð at the shores of beautiful Lake Mývatn. I rent a bike to get around. Just as I want to ask if I can get a lock the lady says “you don’t need a lock, no one steals bikes here”. Allright. At night, I try to take pictures of the current eruption of the volcano Bárðarbunga. It is about 100 kilometres away and of course I cannot see the volcano but the lava flows make the clouds glow red. Without a tripod, I jump into a convenient rock fissure, so that I can put my camera on the rocks for stabilization. As I turn around, I suddenly see a green glow in the opposite direction. I found some Northern Lights.

For my way back to Akureyri my planning was flawed. No buses on this route on Tuesdays, only in high season, not in autumn. A friendly French tourist takes me to the Goðafoss waterfall and a friendly local the rest of the way. 14 out of the last 26 kilometres to beautifully located Siglufjörður are in three long tunnels. The first of them, 3,400 metres long, is one-way with occasional waiting areas. Siglufjörður (pop. 1,200) had grown up around the herring industry and had its heyday in the 1940s and 50s with more than 3,000 inhabitants. The tunnels, the last ones opened in 2010 only, are an attempt to reverse the shrinking of the town.

Have a look for yourself at this beautiful country: