Rishi Sankar: Ah Trini Travelogue

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Wow.. the days are passing so quickly here…..day 5 ends in a pleasant surprise…near the Arctic Circle

Posted by Rishiray on September 16, 2008


Sept 16th 10.20 pm IST: One of the great things about travelling is that you are always … and I mean always surprised by something during the trip. Trinidad used to be a place, a long time ago… long long time ago, where people wouldn’t lock their doors, they weren’t behind huge metal fences, and didn’t have to worry about someone trying to kidnap them if they had visible money. Well tonight, we ended up in a nice little town of Thorshofn, (North East, Iceland). It is a small fishing village that also serves the surrounding rural farming area. It is probably the best place in Iceland to experience what it is like to live in an isolated village almost 60 miles, 100 km from the next village. Around 400 people live in the village itself.

Well when we got in after a long long day of driving up the east coast and through North East Iceland, we ended up in Hotel Jorvik. Completely randomly, just like yesterday’s hotel/homestay…so we call the number listed and we get this guy who tells us to call another number. BTW we are in front of Hotel Jorvik when we call, after walking inside and looking around for anyone… yes the front door was unlocked! No one inside… we call the second number and nice old lady answers, she gives us a rate of 6900ISK for the night and that was that.

Oh yeah! One thing… she said she was outside and couldn’t come home, if we could make ourselves at home, and she would be back in the morning to collect payment. To describe Hotel Jorvik… it is a lovely house with very tidy, comfortable rooms downstairs and upstairs. It is not a hotel but rather the woman’s house with guestrooms. Her fridge had tons of food, wireless internet and comfy couches to do my thing! Her door was never locked, and there were no locks on any of the doors in the house…..this woman basically let her walk in, stay, and trusted us to pay her – sight unknown!!

(Update: 8am on Wednesday – Day 6 – She came by last night for 10 minutes to collect cash, and then left….we were again all alone in this house with all her things….it blows my mind! Oh yeah, did I mention I actually felll asleep with our room door open and the front door to this house unlocked and my laptop behind upstairs; it was on all night so I could upload as many pictures as I could on the 8kbps internet!). I don’t think I have ever done that in a strange place before…. no matter how remote.

And the food in the town, there is one bar, that serves as the local watering hole here….Liverpool was playing Marselles. Easily the best meal we have had in Iceland. One of the things when you travel the road, is that you become accustomed to the conditions, so that we eat candy and sandwiches while on the road, but you miss the creature comforts of home and “familiar” food, like Pho, Curry, Cheap Chinese, Sushi, Arabic food, etc …. but today we had some of the freshest halibut, trout and shrimp you could imagine; washed down by some good Icelandic beer.

Side note: When you go a bar, and order 4 pints, Fish & Chips, Fried Shrimp in Sweet and Sour Rice dish, Grilled Halibut with Potatoes, and Local Clam chowder, you expect a hefty bill. But in Iceland, a bill of 9300ISK, is a reasonable one. When considering the seafood in Hofn, cost us around the same price, and I need to eat 3 more meals after that dinner to feel full, Thorsofn feels like a god damn bargain. Again, I’ll reiterate, anyone coming to Iceland, make sure most of your money is on a credit card (Visa or Mastercard..since AMEX won’t get you far in the country)

Sept 16th 5.20 pm IST: Well it has been a long long day of driving from Hofn to Thorshofn.

Map of Day 5 routeSo going from Hofn, there aren’t many huge landmarks to see but the driving is spectacular and there are many quaint old towns to see. Now in a country of 300,000 people, where 2/3 of them live in the capital, you expect some tiny towns but small villages in Trinidad would metropolises over…. a town can be a group of 4 houses!!!

So the morning part of the journey consisted of the following path through the Eastfjords…

Eastfjords travel path
Eastfjords travel path

Tons of great driving really with lovely vistas…. ho hum! Give more Iceland.. all these boring vistas and scenic shots… where is your skyscrapers and your crappy “modern” architecture, and traffic jams…gimme more of that Iceland!!! Damn…I guess we’ll have to with all this clean, cold air with waterfalls, mountains and fjords. Ho Hum!!

So we are in this small town of Djupivogur. Quite the picturesque little town, but then again… what around Iceland so far hasn’t been? We stopped by the oldest house in the town called Langavur. Not really much here…. but we did meet Jennifer in the supermarket here…. a Portuguese girl who speaks Icelandic. Here is the speil on this little town.

This village at the head of the bay Berufiord developed around an important trading post in the past. In 1589 the German Hansa merchants were granted a trading license there by the Danish king. Later on the Danish introduced the trade monopoly and took over themselves. The oldest houses (1788-1818) date back to the Danish period. Three of them, among them Langabud (1790), have been restored. Langabud was transformed into a nice restaurant and museums. Fishing, fish processing and commerce are the main trades. The scenic beauty of the surroundings is renowned and visitors are treated well in every respect. The hotel Framtid (Hotel Future) has a good restaurant and a sauna. A Youth Hostel is at the nearby farm, Berunes. Boat trips to the island Papey, deep sea angling and a bike rental are among the recreational opportunities.
The monument in the middle of the small town was unveiled on June 20th, 1999 in memory of drowned seamen and fishermen. The sculptor was Johanna Thordardottir.Side Note: What is surprising here is how well the Icelanders speak English and everyone speaks English well. I’ll have to find out if it an official language, I should know this, but I don’t. So of course, our American friends from last night run into us at the hostel… it’s funny but I don’t think I have met more Anti-American Americans that this couple. She was remarking that if Obama didn’t win, she and her fiancee were moving to Norway. Hmmmm there is a thought, let s more from a country with low taxes and no social services, to a country with ridiculously high taxes but all the social net in the world – sounds like someone is voting for Canada.

Driving down the Eastfjords is rather flat for a lot of stretches and you get a lot of coast line that is more like this
But then you happen on magnificent gorges with waterfalls like this
One gets the picture ….. so more waterfalls, fjords, and mountains… but note that there were no glaciers in this part of Iceland since we passed the mighty Vatnajokull, a while back. MAny scenes were barren or lovely coastline with sea stacks or rocks from the mountains above.
After driving lower on the coast, we start a lovely and scary ascent into the mountains buffeted by some high gale force winds…but the vistas were pretty spectacular….. oh ho hum Iceland…..boring!!!
Also on this trip I learnt that Lev has an unnatural obsessions with Baraskaa (Russian for Sheep)…. as shown by the following pics…..
So other little descriptions of towns passed like Faskrudfjordur
The village Budir is situated at the end of the bay Faskrudsfjordur. The Co-operative Society there operates a shop, a fishing outfit and a fish processing factory. Late in the 19th and early in the 20th centuries French fishing vessels were serviced there and the French built a hospital and secured sacred ground for the burial of the fishermen, who died on the long fishing expeditions to the Icelandic fishing grounds. Altogether 49 French and Belgians lie buried there. The hospital building was moved to the head of the bay and its decayed remains are still standing. All around the village are beautiful and interesting natural phenomena to be seen in the rugged, mountainous landscape.
After this we headed to VOPNAFJORDUR.
The name Vopnafjordur applies to a bay in the northeast and a village on it, which develloped around an ancient trading post. The main bases of living are fishing, fish processing and commerce. The author Gunnar Gunnarsson staged many of the events of his works in the areas to the west of the village and on his centenary in 1989 his memorial was unveiled in Vopnafjordur.
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