east iceland: a stroll through seyðisfjörður & a climb up to the “sound sculpture”

Friday, August 19:  This morning, we have a fabulous breakfast at Hotel Aldan’s Nordic Restaurant.  Hotel Aldan and Hotel Snæfell are sister hotels.  The breakfast spread is the best we have in Iceland, although the Lamb Inn in Akureyri was a close second.

The breakfast spread at Hotel Aldan
The breakfast spread at Hotel Aldan’s Nordic Restaurant
The breakfast spread at Hotel Aldan
The breakfast spread at Hotel Aldan’s Nordic Restaurant

After breakfast, we return to our hotel to get ready to tackle the day.  We’re both pretty exhausted from our walking and driving yesterday, and Mike is complaining of a sore throat.  We may be pushing it too much, but we’re on holiday and we have places to go, things to see!

Our Hotel Snæfell is a three-story wooden house built in 1908 that sits on the mouth of the river Fjarðará.  The house was first used as the local post office until it was converted to a hotel in 1943.

sitting room at Hotel Snæfell
sitting room at Hotel Snæfell

Through the years Hotel Snæfell has been a shoemaker workshop, a taxi station and a large restaurant. The house also served as a home to several families before becoming a hotel. Among many of the people living there was Ingi T. Lárusson, one of Iceland´s foremost composers.

Hotel Snæfell
Hotel Snæfell
Hotel Snæfell
Hotel Snæfell

Hotel Snæfell has beautiful views over a small natural estuary in the town’s center which is home to birds, trout and the occasional Atlantic Grey Seal.

view of the town from the picnic table at Hotel Snæfell
view of the town from the picnic table at Hotel Snæfell

The Seyðisfjörður town settlement began in 1848 by Norwegian fishermen who built some of the existing wooden buildings in the town.  At that time, it was used as a trading center. Later, its herring industry created great wealth for its residents.  Seyðisfjörður was used as a base for British/American forces during World War II.

Seyðisfjörður
Seyðisfjörður

With the recent demise of the local fish-processing plant, the village has shifted its economy to tourism.  It remains a significant fishing port on the east coast of Iceland, with harbors, ship construction facilities and a slip, according to Wikipedia: Seyðisfjörður.

Seyðisfjörður
Seyðisfjörður
Seyðisfjörður
Seyðisfjörður

We walk by the enticing Old Apothecary Guest House, a historic house along the river.

We find this building that looks like a school; it reminds me a little of the school featured in the Danish TV series Rita.  The series follows the life of Rita, an outspoken and rebellious school teacher who is excellent in the classroom, but gets in her own way in her personal life.

School in Seyðisfjörður
School in Seyðisfjörður

Between our hotel and the little town is this monument to some famous character.

Monument in Seyðisfjörður
Monument in Seyðisfjörður

We cross a bridge over the pretty river Fjarðará.

The river "Fjarðará"
The river Fjarðará

We walk past the Nordic Restaurant on our way into town.  It’s crazy to us that the place has picnic tables as it’s pretty darn nippy, but later we find people  bundled up in parkas and drinking beers outside here.

Hotel Aldan
Hotel Aldan

We love the rainbow walkway that leads to the town’s Bláakirkja, The Blue Church.

rainbow path to the Blue Church
rainbow path to the Blue Church

This boutique, Gullabúið, is painted similarly to a building we saw in Reykjavik on the main shopping street.  I can’t help but wonder if it was painted by the same artist.  The boutique carries souvenirs and crafts, home décor and furniture.

a boutique in Seyðisfjörður - Gullabúið
a boutique in Seyðisfjörður – Gullabúið

We find another sculpture in the churchyard.

sculpture at the Blue Church
sculpture at the Blue Church

The town’s pretty Blue Church is known for its summer concert series on Wednesday nights, featuring jazz, classical and folk music.  As we arrived here Thursday night, we miss the concert.

Bláakirkja, The Blue Church
Bláakirkja, The Blue Church

Below is one of the many camper vans we see throughout Iceland.  You can check out Rent.is to book one of these.

a camping vehicle commonly seen throughout Iceland
a camping vehicle commonly seen throughout Iceland

We take a walk around the town, checking out the colorful buildings, the bay, and the Hotel Aldan. Hotel Aldan housed the bank of Seyðisfjörður for almost a century.

I love the whimsical mural on this building.

whimsical building
whimsical building
risque ladies
risqué ladies

Because of its steep mountainsides, Seyðisfjörður has been prone to avalanches.  In 1885, an avalanche killed 24 people and pushed several houses into the fjord.  A more recent avalanche in 1996 flattened a local factory, but luckily no lives were lost. The avalanche monument in the town is made from the twisted girders of the factory, painted white and erected as they were found, according to Lonely Planet Iceland.

avalanche monument
avalanche monument
Hotel Aldan
Hotel Aldan

After walking around the town, we head up the south side of the fjord to hike up to a famous sound sculpture.  But first, we stop by a sculpture called “Hvernig gengur…?” or “How’s it going?” in English.  It was commissioned by Iceland Telecom to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the telegraph cable between Scotland and Iceland.  The laying of the submarine cable in 1906 marks the beginning of Iceland’s international telecommunications.  The artist was Guðjón Ketilsson.

Hvað er að frétta? (What's new?) phone booth
Hvað er að frétta? (What’s new?) phone booth
a double selfie in the phone booth
a double selfie in the phone booth

We begin our walk up to the Tvisongur (“the Duet”) sound sculpture by German artist Lukas Kühne.  We might be able to see the fjord if it weren’t so foggy.  We can see the fish meal plant as well as Gullberg Fisheries.

Fish processing plant
Fish processing plant

We can see glimpses of blue skies here and there, but as the hike is all uphill and our views are so obstructed by the fog, I’m a little grumpy about this hike!

Gullberg Fisheries and the mountains around Seyðisfjörður
Gullberg Fisheries and the mountains around Seyðisfjörður

Luckily we do get to see some wonderful waterfalls.

waterfall along hike to hike to Tvisongur sound sculpture
waterfall along hike to hike to Tvisongur sound sculpture
waterfall along hike to hike to Tvisongur sound sculpture
waterfall along hike to hike to Tvisongur sound sculpture
waterfall along hike to hike to Tvisongur sound sculpture
waterfall along hike to hike to Tvisongur sound sculpture
hike to Tvisongur sound sculpture
hike to Tvisongur sound sculpture

The Tvisongur sound sculpture is built of concrete and consists of five interconnected domes of different sizes. The heights of the domes are between 2 and 4 meters and they cover an area of about 30 square meters. Each dome has its own resonance that corresponds to a tone in the Icelandic musical tradition of five-tone harmony, and works as a natural amplifier to that tone.

Tvisongur sound sculpture
Tvisongur sound sculpture
view around Tvisongur sound sculpture
view around Tvisongur sound sculpture
around Tvisongur sound sculpture
around Tvisongur sound sculpture
around Tvisongur sound sculpture
around Tvisongur sound sculpture

As we are the only ones up on this mountain, I sing “America the Beautiful” inside the sound sculpture, because it’s the only song to which I know the lyrics.🙂

inside Tvisongur sound sculpture
inside Tvisongur sound sculpture

We make our way back down the mountain as the skies clear slightly.

hike back down to Seyðisfjörður
hike back down to Seyðisfjörður

We can see the quaint little town below us, engulfed in fog.

Seyðisfjörður
Seyðisfjörður
Seyðisfjörður
Seyðisfjörður
Seyðisfjörður
Seyðisfjörður
hiking down from the sound sculpture
hiking down from the sound sculpture
Seyðisfjörður
Seyðisfjörður
hking down
hiking down
floating in the clouds
floating in the clouds
passing the waterfalls again
passing the waterfalls again

Finally, we return to town, where we stop at the pretty marina and take another stroll while the sun is shining. After that, we’ll head to the mountain pass on the west to walk around some beautiful waterfalls.🙂

8 thoughts on “east iceland: a stroll through seyðisfjörður & a climb up to the “sound sculpture”

  1. Oh how I love those foggy skies, heavy with the promise of rain! But I agree, on vacation you want to see the sights. I once spent four whole days in San Francisco and never once saw the Golden Gate Bridge. The locals said, of course ” we have never seen anything like this, fog for four days in a row!”. It’s all about the timing. I also did not know you had to reserve your visits to Alcatraz days in advance, so I missed out on that, too, leaving it for the last day. Too bad I did not have you to help me plan that visit!!

    As for sitting outside to enjoy a refreshment in the worst of weather, that is very typical European. Yesterday I tried to get my dad to have our Saturday coffee outside but once his teeth started chattering I gave in and we went inside. He was brave to stick it out but from now on I have to be less selfish about that now that it is getting colder.

    Beautiful photos, did you hear the sound sculpture hum a tune? What clever, colourful people the Icelanders are! Such bucolic images are a welcome relief compared to where I live. *sigh*.

    1. Thanks, Mona Lisa. The foggy skies made for some decent pictures after all, although at the time I was pretty grumpy about the hike and our views! I remember when Mike and I were in Zhangjiajie in China and we couldn’t see any of the Avatar mountains because of fog. It was so disappointing! I can understand your frustration about the Golden Gate Bridge, and not planning ahead for Alcatraz. I’ve had the same experience numerous times.

      As for enjoying a drink outdoors in any kind of weather: I’ve enjoyed drinks in the cold outdoors before, but in this case, we just wanted to get inside where it was warm and cozy. Especially as we both were starting to get sick around this area. It’s a good thing you gave your dad a break when his teeth started chattering!

      In the blog, I mentioned that I sang “America the beautiful” in the sound sculpture. When I sang it, the song was amplified, but the sculpture didn’t hum on its own.

      I loved the pretty scenery almost everywhere in Iceland. Even when it wasn’t “beautiful” in the typical way, it was beautiful in its strangeness.🙂

      1. Thanks! How did I miss you singing in the sculpture?? Hm, will have to go back and reread that part! Yes, Iceland has a very bucolic beauty, frozen in time quality which our east coast has, too apparently. I wish I had taken advantage of a layover there from Geneva when I went back to Toronto for visits! Oh well. I have decided now to get a post graduate Bachelor of Social Work degree I think I mentioned, which should permit me to find a job where I can actually pay for real vacations again! We will see! It is now or never to get stuck into the next career phase as I can see the doors starting to close here as my boss nears age 75. xxxxx Your photos make me very homesick for getting away, which I thought was a sentiment long dead for all intents and purposes. I think I want to hit the road a few more times yet before parking it for good!

    1. Thanks so much, Carol. I wonder if they paint the buildings in such bright colors because they’re covered in snow much of the year (and gray skies)? I loved the brightly colored buildings and red roofs all through the country.🙂

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