16th Nov 2016 - 17th Nov 2016 - Iceland
With a population of less than 20,000 and a centre that you can walk round in 10 minutes, Akureyri doesn’t scream second city, but this it is! It’s location at the head of Eyjafjörður (a fjord) and is surrounded by snowy mountains. It’s also in the north of the island but in winter there’s a lack of public transport crossing the island. This meant I had to fly up there. Reykjavik’s domestic airport is just behind the main bus terminal and as well as serving destinations around the country, it also serves Greenland and the Faroe Islands – tempting!
The flight was only 30 mins and flew over the top of the mountains in the middle of Iceland. When we landed we were greeted by heavy snow with a large covering on the ground. My accommodation was right in the centre of town, so after leaving my bag I went exploring. First stop was Akureyrarkirkja – the local church – situated up a hill and looking down over the town and the water. I then went all the way down to the water’s edge, before heading back into town and finding a small restaurant with amazing chicken wings for lunch. The sun sets a little earlier here, where the light was very reminiscent of my visit to Tromso. In the evening, I took a walk round town stopping for a hot chocolate.
The next day was dominated by the weather. Before leaving home, I had booked a trip that would take me to Góðafoss waterfall, Lake Mývatn, the natural hot baths and Dettifoss waterfall. However, I’d been advised earlier in the week that due to a bad weather forecast, it wouldn’t be possible to go to Dettifoss. So I was switched onto an alternative trip that would visit the other 3 places. My guide that morning picked everyone up and we started driving out of town towards Góðafoss but as we got out of town the snow got heavier and heavier. We were soon heading up towards the first of three mountain passes that we would have to traverse. Within minutes, we could only see a few metres in front of the van due to the snow. At this point, even our local Icelandic guide said that the weather was too bad to continue and so we had to turn back to Akureyri.
Within an hour of leaving the hostel, I was back there contemplating how to spend a day in a town that I had comprehensively covered the previous day. Mostly, I spent it reading in the bar of the hostel, popping out for lunch and then again mid-afternoon although this time I got so battered by the snow storm that had picked up again that I gave up pretty quickly. As it didn’t improve in the evening, I had dinner in the hostel bar, along with a couple of beers of course!