Michaela Merz

Iceland – Akureyri

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I wanted to visit Iceland for several years but my youngest wanted to go on a cruise ship. I was against the cruise idea but family life is a continuous compromise. So we went around the island in a cruise ship. I imagined Iceland to be different. Even though I have three travel guides at home and have seen countless images. Iceland is different, not comparable to other countries and unpredictable. One of the best sayings that we heard on our journey goes as follows: ‘if you don’t like the weather just wait five minutes’. It describes what you experience on the island very well. It can be foggy and suddenly sunny, it can be ice cold and quarter of an hour later it’ll be T-Shirt summer weather. Accordingly, our backpacks for the hikes were large. You can experience anything there. Rain, the cold, the sun, wind. You need sunglasses, hats, rain coats and jackets. You need quite a bit to survive the weather conditions.

When we left the boat at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning Akureyri was still asleep. It is a medium sized city at the end of a fjord. The location invites with a pleasant view. We were astonished when we saw the council pick-up truck at the crossing. The driver saw a little branch on the road, jumped out of the car and removed it. What a work-ethic! We saw the pick-up and its diligent council worker a couple more times this day on our stroll. You cannot find such an exemplary level of cleanliness everywhere. No paper, no cigarette bud, no trace of rubbish tarnished our view.

I really wanted to visit the Akureyri church but it was still closed shortly after 8 a.m. and so we continued in the direction of the botanical garden. To our surprise, it was open. The entry was free. This garden rendered me speechless. It was kept with lots of love and had a beautiful lay-out, one of the most beautiful ones that I had ever seen. The most surprising thing about this garden is, that throughout the short Icelandic summer everything blossoms – Spring roses, pansy flower, gentian, orchids, lilies of the valley, geranium and so on. I could have stayed for hours but my youngest wanted to leave after a while. Afterwards we went into the old town. We looked at the old houses and museums and pondered what they would look like in the long, cold winter months.

My youngest was impressed with the old cars and tractors of which there were many. Clearly, the Icelanders have a flair for old vehicles.

When they finally opened the church doors and we marveled at the ornamented glass windows, it was time for our excursion to the Myvatn lake (midge lake) and the natural baths with milky blue water. Impressive images and hot water, which reaches up to 40 degrees at some points.

In order to travel there we joined a travel group. Of course the travelers didn’t introduce themselves on the bus but the languages they spoke introduced them. You can call it a cliché but it was not surprising to see how the different language groups conducted themselves. I don’t want to describe it in detail to avoid being scolded. Let’s do this the other way round – there were language groups that arrived on time at the bus stop, a few even arrived early, there were however a few that were ALWAYS late and we had to wait for them. There were a few quiet and considerate ones and others that behaved in manners that attracted disapproval. A lesson for my youngest as to how not to act.

The area is worth a visit and if you ever travel there, I recommend you take your swimming costume with you.

Image source: Unsplash.com

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