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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Between our hotel and the little town is this monument to some famous character.
We cross a bridge over the pretty 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.
We love the rainbow walkway that leads to the town’s Bláakirkja, 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.
We find another sculpture in the churchyard.
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.
Below is one of the many camper vans we see throughout Iceland. You can check out Rent.is to book one of these.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Luckily we do get to see some wonderful waterfalls.
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.
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. 🙂
We make our way back down the mountain as the skies clear slightly.
We can see the quaint little town below us, engulfed in fog.
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. 🙂