#7 CLEAR BLUE SKIES, FJORDS, SORCERY AND WITCHCRAFT

Next morning dawned bright and sunny as we left the Laugarbakki Hotel. It would be a beautiful day for traveling except that I was not feeling quite up to par. What I perceived as a head cold was not debilitating, yet it was annoying as some coughing and runny nose persisted throughout the day. As with many in the group, I wore a mask.

Having left the North Iceland sector, we entered into the Westfjords, the northwesterly area of Iceland heavily punctuated with fjords. Much of the day was riding down one side of fjords and up the other as we wound our way onward to the Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft Museum in the little village of Hómavik. 




The museum offers an unforgettable introduction to the mystical world of supernatural Iceland learning about Viking traditions, occult practices, superstitions, sorcery, runic designs, witch hunts and nábrók also known as necropants, pants made from the skin of another person. There, on display, is a genuine pair of that macabre article of clothing. Wearing such attire was in hopes of gaining never-ending wealth. That and other articles on display were bizarre.








Hómavik, primarily a fishing village on that fjord, featured a striking site, the church on the hillside above town, with a long rainbow colored stairway leading to the top. 


The day was not as packed with places to go or things to see, allowing us an earlier arrival at our next hotel which was also well situated in the countryside with a small mountain in its backyard. From part way up the mountain I viewed the open landscape below where white packaged bales of grass dotted farm fields bisected by a meandering river cutting through on its journey to the nearby fjord.













Near the hotel, I joined others as we explored nearby Troll Turf Houses. Inside the dark, cramped space one was to imagine how early settlers and trolls once within. 





The heat source for the hotel came from a hot spring, the hot water being piped down from the mountainside. Although this hotel had a swimming pool, it had just undergone repairs and was being re-filled that afternoon. I had to wonder if they were filling it with the hot spring water. That evening we enjoyed another fine meal and celebrated the birthday of Kay, the other Arizonan in our group. 

As it was in most, if not all, the hotels, the beds were very comfortable and all had the same white bedspreads/duvets. While the duvets were substantial and comfortable, they were exceptionally good at keeping one’s body heat, a fact that prompted me to throw them aside most nights so that I could cool off (even with the radiators turned down or off). Granted, I do tend to generate a lot of heat, so once cooled down, I would then only partially cover up to maintain a reasonable temperature so that I could sleep.





Starting with a cloudy morning next day, it did become partly sunny throughout the day. My head cold and runny nose had shown no improvement, but was not affecting my energy or otherwise hampering the day. This fine morning would have us riding along more fjords, first stopping at a small house named Litlibaer upon that drive. There we were served coffee and freshly made waffles upon which we could spread various berry jams and whipped cream. What a delightful way to have a mid morning snack while enjoying the beautiful weather, the setting and each other’s company.








By the early afternoon we arrived in Isafjördur where we would embark on a boat trip to the island of Vigur. 

That boat ride was thrilling. 

Once out of the relative calm of the harbor and into open water, the boat cut through the choppy water, waves crashing around the bow. After most others had returned to the comfort and safety indoors, I remained on the front deck, hanging onto railings and attempting to take photographs. Suddenly, unexpectedly, I was showered with a frigid wave of water as it exploded and washed over the bow and deck -what a shock! A freezing splash in the face has a way of bringing a person to full attention. WHEW! Still quite surprised, wouldn't you know it, ANOTHER wave crashed over the bow and further drenched me! Luckily my raincoat protected my core and clothing beneath, but not so much my pants, now soaked through.  Grasping the rails, looking at the wheelhouse, the pilot and others inside protected by the wide windows, were apparently quite amused as I was pummeled and soaked. Enough! Time to get indoors before I was swept overboard.

Vigur Island, once an early settlement with sheep farms, is also known for its nesting birds including Puffins and Eider Ducks. Upon landing on Vigur Island, rain and stiff winds prevailed. Being guided over the island learning more of its history, wind and spitting rain began to chill me. On the way we saw many ducks but, alas, no puffins. Presumably the Puffins had already left their nests and were winging their way to Antartica. Amazing that they actually fly from nearly the top pole to the south pole.

Interestingly, we also were educated on Eider Ducks, from which eider down is collected and then processed into stuffing for duvets, comforters, jackets and pillows. Eider is the soft gray feathers that mother Eider ducks pluck from their breasts and line their nests to help incubate and warm the eggs and ducklings. Collecting the down is a systematic, regulated procedure, taking only about half from nests so that enough insulation remains to ensure the eggs or ducklings can survive. All nests are protected in the collection of the soft down feathers. A series of steps clean unwanted organics and debris from the feathers and the final product is mostly sent to Germany to be made into the finished commodities. Eiderdown, reportedly the warmest natural insulation in the world, is extraordinarily expensive.

Before departing Vigur, we enjoyed warming up inside while savoring a slice of Icelandic “Happy Marriage Cake” along with hot coffee. With the boat signaling time for departure, I felt more subdued and a bit tired, opting to forego being on deck and staying inside. 












But once on land we had no time to dawdle as we had reservations at a well known restaurant, Tjöruhúsid. Dropping our bags and back out the door, Reynir drove us to the restaurant. The restaurant operates on a reservation basis, one dinner seating at 6:30 and another at 8. Our group, running late because of our late arrival back at the dock, arrived just as they were about to announce the evenings fare. Quickly seating ourselves at our reserved table, the meal opened with a flavorful fish soup followed by the buffet presented with salads, vegetables, fruit and 5 fresh catch choices. Each day they only serve fresh catch which may vary depending on what fishermen secure.

Besides the delectable dinner, the building’s interior with its centuries old history exuded a rustic, cabin-like atmosphere. And no wonder, originally built in 1782, the building is the oldest standing wooden structure in the town of Isafjördur. 

Returning on foot to the hotel, the brisk walk was good for the digestion. Still sniffling, but otherwise fine, I slept well. 

A good day of adventure.
















               It's a platefull!



A couple of American automobiles spied in Isafjördur. Who would have guessed?
































































                    On Vigur Island                                                             Fish Soup at Tjöruhúsid Restaurant in Isafjördur

u   kdonald940@cox.net © Donald E. Kline 2012