How we defeated Friday the 13th and wound up having a pretty great day.
Today we flew up to Ísafjörður. It’s in the largest town in the Westfjords, the fingery extensions of land in the north west of the country. They aren’t easily accessed from the Ring Road (as they believe trolls tried to separate the Westfjords from the island, duh) so we figured we should get on up there before we head out.
It’s the red dot at the top (Reykjavik is the red dot at the bottom.)
The early portion of our day pointed to an epic disaster in the making. I woke up around 6:20 (before the alarm went off which I always do). As I was cursing my personal clock I began thinking how impossible it was that our plan was to leave at 7:30. This is because our flight was leaving at 8. We both knew this and yet somehow in planning yesterday that became the plan. So we rallied as best as one can rally that early. Then we realized it was pouring. Our trip was to a hard to reach airport for a day of kayaking and hiking. Pouring rain was not going to do us any good.
We bolted into the early morning streets of Reykjavik and began a mad search for a cab. We’re about a block from the cab stand and were furtively darting between the empty stand and the busier block (this is after a cab drove away as the stand came in view). Standing in the pouring rain, running late we both started making jokes about how it wouldn’t be so bad to just stay home. Neither of us could tell if the other person was joking. I don’t think either of us were.
So yes, we got a cab and yes we got to the airport in time. In fact, we got there an hour early because our flight was delayed. We had a discussion about what would happen to our guided kayak tour as we were not there. We had a discussion about how nice more sleep would’ve been. And we agreed that we were going to fight the day back. We weren’t going to budge an inch. And you know what? We. Won. Take that stinky pretend bad luck day.
The Ísafjörður airport is not for the faint of heart. You land in a terrifying u-turn in between the mountainous pieces of fjordiness.
If you don’t think that’s a good representation, it is apparently very popular to video and put on YouTube.
We landed (obviously safely) and were absolutely taken with just how lovely the town is. Home to about 3000 people, Ísafjörður takes picturesque to insane levels. After a bit of confusion regarding who was picking us up we got to the heart of town. At the information center they told us to hustle to the kayak center. It was now 10:30, when our kayak trip should have been ending.
Our hustle was one filled with hypotheticals about how it would all work. Would they shorten the tour? Was it going to rain and we should just kind of skip it? Our guide was waiting as was a cute puppy and two French people. Looks like they waited and looks like we were going. Our guide said his name was Arrow. I google translated and got Arrow. So, that’s what we’re working with. As Brett thinks I tend to pick silly pictures of him, here’s me in my haute kayak skirt, jacket, and life vest finery.
And then we began a kayak trip on the most placid water I’ve ever been on with some of the most stunning views surrounding us.
Just how placid was it?
I even got a little panoramic going.
We were very happy.
Brett ranked it in the Top 10 experiences he’s had traveling. Agreed.
Arrow told us all about the troll that sat on the mountain and left a big butt print.
He also told us about when Mick Jagger came to Ísafjörður and it was apparently a very big deal. Some day I will own one of the t-shirts made to commemorate. They read “Jagger was Here.” He also told us about the petition to close the incinerator used to burn trash which then heats the water. The locals don’t like it. It makes for good pictures though.
We tried gently asking about time as we needed to be at the ferry for Vigur at 2. Arrow was on his own schedule that clearly defied the laws of physics. At 12:45 we were still on the water, bellies grumbling. Lunch, when we finally got back to shore, was ham and cheese sandwiches on the run from the best smelling bakery ever. Oh, but they forgot the ham.
I’ll forgive them because the bakery uses this truck to deliver special cakes.
We also saw a knitting cafe. This is, I suppose, where you go to knit although Arrow told us that wasn’t required.
We clearly didn’t have time to sit or knit so we trotted down to the dock. The ferry ride out was lovely. Fjords make for some good views.
There was even snow visible still!
We were headed to Vigur, a 40ish minute boat ride. Hello, charming.
That’s about it. Vigur is tiny. There is one farm on the island, lots of sheep and not much else.
Oh, but wait. There are two things. The only windmill in Iceland.
And the tiniest post office ever (or at least the smallest post office in Europe). We decided it was this building, based purely on thinking it was cute.
We ambled around, saw lots of birds and avoided sheep poop. There were some seals out on the rocks and beautiful views. After walking for a bit everyone was served delicious treats by the farmer’s family. I ate my weight in pastries.
Then Brett and I wandered off on our own. Since I now hate puffins and love sheep, we decided to walk closer to the grazing herd. That was a bad decision. As we got to the edge of the higher grass we locked eyes with a ram. The ram apparently wanted to play chicken. It would not look away and the real possibility of being charged by a fluffy animal with terrifying horns began making my feet move. Brett played it cool to only say later “Yea, he was not happy.”
That’s the one. This is a shot from earlier so you can’t quite get the feel for it staring us down from far too close for my taste. Oh, the joy of having to explain how we got gored by a ram. But we weren’t going to lose to today.
After not getting ham but also not getting gored we decided to stop pressing our luck and call it a day. We wandered back to the ferry. Hopped aboard. Got to the airport. Hopped aboard. Landed, got a cab and were home safe, sound, happy, and exhausted. Not bad for a day that started like a Friday the 13th.