Around Akureyri


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So now we've arrived in the frozen north.

We flew on a little Fokker.  Being adults, we didn't giggle.

 

See that blue sky through the hole in the clouds?  I think this was the last time we'd see sky in or around Akureyri.

 

Mostly we saw gray clouds.

 

Greg's hoping the clouds will clear.

 

We were met at the airport by the guy who runs the Saga Travel Agency in Akureyri.  There he is in the glasses, and that's his helper in the Icelandic sweater.  He told us his name; it seemed to go on forever and was totally unpronounceable except by him.  Here, I'll show you:

OK, Saevar.  Maybe that's not too hard to say.

Here's Saevar's assistant, Inga.  Now Inga is a name I can pronounce.

Speaking of names, look at both of theirs.  It turns out that in Iceland everybody goes by their first names.  In fact, people are listed in the phone book alphabetically by first name.  The last names are interesting too; see how Inga is Svavar's daughter?  And Saevar is Sigurd's son?  That's how most all the names work in Iceland.  Saevar told us that when you name your baby in Iceland, you've got to get official government approval.

Inga was nice as could be, as were all the Icelanders we met.

 

Saevar gave us a running commentary on Akureyri as we rode from the airport into town -- which was a pretty short trip, actually.

 

Akureyri is a peaceful fishing village on the north coast of Iceland.

 

The architecture is interesting.

 

And some of it is strikingly pretty.

 

Everybody but Greg and Tammy stayed at the Icelandair Hotel.  Bill grabbed this picture off the internet.  Know how you can tell?  Blue sky.

 

Here's one of the rooms in the Icelandair Hotel.  See that opening over there to the left of the bed?  That's the bathroom.

 

And see that opening over there to the right of the bed?  That's the shower.  Bill thinks he's never before seen them separated like that in a hotel room.

 

The Icelandair Hotel was up a steep hill from the hotel where Tammy and Greg stayed.

 

Because Tammy and Greg had booked their tour separately, they were put up here at the Hotel Kea-Harpa.  See the sky?  Yep, another internet picture.  And look at that church over there with all the steps.  Pretty impressive, huh?

 

Well, it's a pretty impressive set of steps, anyway.  Saevar, the guy who runs the tour agency, grew up here and he says there are exactly 157 steps.  He knows, because when he was in high school his soccer coach made the team run up and down over and over again.

 

Akureyrarkirkja or The Church of Akureyri is a prominent Lutheran church in Akureyri, northern Iceland. Located in the centre of the city, and towering above the city on a hill, it was designed by Gu­jˇn Sam˙elsson, and completed in 1940.

Cindy likes it.

 

Actually the steps aren't too much of a struggle as long as your soccer coach isn't making you run up and down.  Patty's having no problem

 

Neither is Bill.

 

Nice view from the top.

 

That white building across the street at the bottom is the beginning of the downtown shopping district.  The travel agency is in the little brown building to its right.

 

Here's Bill wearing a goofy expression while sitting in the travel agency.

 

Patty and Bill are buying tickets for a day trip tour of the Lake Myvatn region tomorrow.

 

When you're out poking around in all the shops in town, you never know just what you'll find.  Or what will find you.  Look out, Tammy!

 

 

Greg is happy enough walking around, but he sure would like to find a good sandwich shop.

 

Downtown Akureyri.

 

On a cold, wet, messy, miserable day.

 

Wait a minute.  Patty doesn't look miserable.

 

Hot chocolate.  Just what she needs.

 

Mmmmmm.

 

If Patty's happy, Greg is happy.

 

Bill's happy too.  A coffee shop with airplane seats.  Who'd have thought?

 

Tammy is comfortable, even though she has just inspected Bill's down jacket over there and informed him that he needs to wash it.  Well OK, Tammy, you'll be glad to know that one of the first things Bill did when he got home to DC was to take that thing to the dry cleaner.  It's downright sparkly now!

 

I want a sandwich.

 

Greg found just the place.  They sold delicious New York style roast beef sandwiches and an Icelandic special soda that looked like Mountain Dew but wasn't.  It was Mix, and it didn't taste like anything you've ever had before.  Bill tried one too and actually made his way through almost half of it.

 

We'd learned that at 8:00 tonight a local comedy troupe would put on a play in a downtown restaurant.  It would be a humorous history of Iceland, and it sounded like fun.  But first we needed to eat something better than Greg's New York sandwich, so we went into this place across the street from Tammy and Greg's hotel. 

 

The deal at Rub 23 is that their selections are limited, but you can get them with different flavorings, like garlic rub, or Indian rub, or Mexican rub.  Sounded interesting.

 

In Iceland the Kristall is water.

 

Slow service.

 

And when they did bring us something to nibble on while dinner was being prepared, it was zucchini strips and popcorn with dip.  Yeah, popcorn with dip.  Well, when in Iceland....

 

Bill got the garlic and basil rub on Icelandic cod.  Very good.

 

And in spite of the slow service we did get out of Rub 23 in time to make it around the corner and down the block to the restaurant where the show would be  presented.

 

We thought this place had great signs on the bathroom doors.

 

I think this one means that if you've broken your foot or your arm in a skiing accident and you need to pee, it doesn't matter whether you're male or female, you can use this toilet. I think.

 

OK, we're ready for the show to begin.

 

And here's the cast. 

"The History of Iceland in 45 Minutes" is a tour de force with fun and music of the greatest moments as well as the most horrible disasters of the nation's 1100 year history. A hilarious crash course in speaking Icelandic and how to conquer the Icelanders!

Performed in English at G÷tubarinn bar downtown Akureyri, Mondays and Wednesdays at 8:00 pm.

 

They did a great job singing and acting and even a bit of dancing every once in a while.

 

There were wisecracks and slapstick.

 

And we learned lots about Vikings and fighting and early settlements and even the strange blue creatures who live in the rocks.

 

Want to see some of it?

 

Akureyri is pretty the following night.

 

Cold and snowy, but pretty.  See how black the sidewalk looks?  Well, some of that is black ice.  In fact, just a few minutes before this picture was taken, Bill found a slick spot that his fancy boots couldn't handle and slammed his face right into the curb.  He was stunned for a minute, but except for a slightly bleeding knee, nothing was broken and he was able to pretend almost convincingly for the rest of the evening that he wasn't in great pain.  Seeing this picture brings it all back to him.

 

But a nice dinner in this place helped him forget his aches.

 

And late in the evenings we'd chat in the hotel lobby.  Patty stayed warm.

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