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Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Day in Husavik

Husavik is the destination for those who want to go whale watching. It lies at the northern end of the eastern fjord north of Myvatn. The valley is very fertile and I pass many farms on my way to this fabled town. I cross a couple of single lane bridges and other two lane bridges that replaced former single lane bridges. Iceland is always under construction, naturally from eruptions and fro man. The approach to Husavik reveals a truly quaint village, a whaling village. I drive around just exploring and find the Culture House. I stop.

What a find. I spend 2 hours roaming the main exhibit, which is a complete history of Icelandic culture. Separate rooms contain artifacts and information about house construction, music, woolen trade, whaling, birds, animals, fish, hunting, education, cooking, language, family life and more. There are rooms set up to display what a typical house would be like in the 1800's and early 1900's. Slide shows in English, too, about the cooperative movement and Independence.

Upstairs was a photographic history of Icelandic people. The history of the hat for men, a hat I must say I've seen a lot of in Akureyri, esp on Saturday evening when everyone gets dressed up and goes out. An slew of beauty pageants, men and women in bathing suits, some sports and family pictures through the 20th Century. What was so amazing about these pictures was the likeness of the people was the same throughout the century.

The culture is an old one and unchanged over these past 700 years. The language is also the same from 700 years ago. This is shown in the documents from a long time ago that can still be read by today's Icelanders. This takes some time to truly understand the depth and intensity of this culture. This is an old if not oldest culture on earth today. Geneticists study the Icelandic people for obvious reasons of purity of gene.I go to the other wing that contains a new structure housing old whaling skiffs and boats and artifacts about the whaling industry in Husavik. I'm exhausted after a very educational and entertaining 2 hours.

I drive around the town some more and find the Whaling museum. This is very reminiscent of the Nantucket Whaling Museum, but with more whale skeletons and pictures of whale beaching and archaeological digs around the area of whales. The most unique aspect of the museum is the 18 hole putting course which is filled with two groups of old, very old men playing gulf as they meander around the museum. The curator informs me they set this up to use the space for seniors to get exercise in the winter. There are a couple of men who obviously had had strokes and this seems to be very good exercise and socialization in these harsh winter times. I see one very elderly man get a few hole in ones while others struggle just to five putt. Unique.

The daylight is waning, and I wish to navigate to Myvatn over a road newly built but not completed and is still gravel in the middle. It is tough in the middle as expected and I'm lucky because a plow has been through earlier today otherwise I wouldn't be passing this way. But I knew this because the curator of the Culture House has made a phone call for me to find out if this road was clear, and he assured me it was. It is a long and lovely road through such eye candy beauty of color of sky and water juxtaposed to the bright clean crystal white of the surrounding snow. The only blemish is the road I'm on which is a black ribbon weaving its way to Myvatn.

I decide to drive to the Dettifoss road to see if it has been cleared. It has not and I'm disappointed, but don't despair as I will be back again.

I arrive at the Nature Baths as the sun has set, 1630. I spend more time in the steam bath and hot tub, then in the actual lagoon as the water temperature is the coldest of the three days I've been here. Also the wind is coming in from a different direction making it a bit more uncomfortable.

The drive back to Akureyri is familiar now and takes an hour. I see that the Spanish restaurant is open and I stop for dinner. The owner chef is from the Canary Islands and provides unique Canary Island recipes. I have the soup, an onion and root vegetable broth that is creamy and delightful. I order the Spanish omelet and Canary style potatoes which comes with a tasty fennel, coriander, and basil sauce. The meal is delicious and I take half the omelet home for tomorrow's lunch.

My adventures are catching up with me so I stay in watch some football, see Chelsea eliminated from Championship League play this year despite their 6-1 trouncing of their opponent, and go to bed instead of Northern Lights chasing. The sky is not conducive any way.

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