I will probably anger most Icelanders when I say this, but I wasn’t too excited by its capital city Reykjavik. Perhaps it was because it was my first day in country and I was still a bit confused by the new culture. Or, perhaps I was too sleep-deprived to take part in the vibrant pub culture for which the city is known.
Whatever it was, Reykjavik just wasn’t, well, special. Its modern low, squat, often-metallic buildings offered little in aesthetics. While there were interesting little shops to browse and certainly more than enough good restaurants, everything seemed horribly overpriced.
So, it was with some trepidation that I came upon Iceland’s second largest city, Akureyri. I was especially prepared to be nonplussed because if the country’s largest city – with a population of 120,000 — hadn’t impressed me, then Akureyri with 18,000 people didn’t stand a chance.
I was surprised then when I entered to city to immediately encounter a town that seemed to have retained so much of its past charm. Instead of more-modern metal buildings, old frame homes with intricate lattice work and gingerbread lined the residential streets. It looked more like something out of a New England village.
Oh look, there’s another tidy farmhouse topped with a red roof surrounded by a field of purple lupines in front of a stunning and spectacular thousand-foot waterfall that rushes forth from heavenly mountains capped with glaciers and frosting-like snow. Ho hum.
This little town, sitting on the apex of a fiord in north Iceland, might provide just the novel stimulation I needed. And I wasn’t disappointed.
So I went to work. There were, after all, gifts to be purchased.
The shops provided me with all the goodies I’d hoped for and soon I was laden with bags, escaping back to my car.
It was, then, with a great sigh of relief that I once again set out on the road. I had spent nearly three hours in this cute northern town and it had provided me the succor that I needed. I was once again ready to encounter the rest of Iceland.
Wow! That’s a stunning little farm. And look at those purple lupines, my favorite flower. That waterfall is stupendous. And the towering mountains are spectacular.
Sometimes all a girl really needs is some retail therapy.