Feed on


Yesterday (Friday) we were in Isafjordur. This small port is in the West Fjords area of Iceland, and is very sparsely populated – Isafjordur, with a population of 3,000 or a bit less, is the principal settlement in the whole area. Traditionally it made its living from fishing and from basic agriculture – sheep farming and, interestingly, eider duck – but in recent decades fishing especially has been hit hard by quotas. Professional services, administration and tourism have taken up some of the slack.

This was a cold (5°), grey, overcast, windy and occasionally rainy day. Our plan was to go ashore and explore the town. On a nicer day we could perhaps have enjoyed the views of the old port and sat on a bench and enjoyed the sunshine, but with the conditions as they were the town was revealed as being very basic. (But fully equipped as far as the local people are concerned, of course.) So we walked around, admired the handful of older houses (early 19th century), found the town beach but decided not to walk on it, and generally strolled around. We did find two places that we enjoyed. First was the local Cultural Centre, which was in fact the local library and art gallery, and was housed in what looked like the grandest building in town. This was the former general hospital and dated from 1927 but which was converted into the library,etc, in the 90s after a new hospital was built. Visitors were certainly being welcomed, and I had a brief chat with the librarian about the weather. She didn’t seem to mind it – indeed, she commented that the winter had been very mild.

We mainly wanted to look at the art gallery. There were some older paintings, and a handful of old maps of the town and the area. These showed the development of the town and also the change in circumstances – a map from the 1950s showed a lot more structures (quays and sheds) associated with the fishing industry – today they’re gone. Best of all was an exhibition of photographs of the area and its people, especially the farming community. The pictures – all mono – were excellently presented: large, and framed. Unfortunately I don’t know the name of the photographer or where they came from, but I got the feeling from the images that he or she must have been local (and known to their subjects) and with long experience of the area. I imagine that the images on display were selected from a larger number – I suspect that the photographer had engaged in a personal project over a number of years.

After that we went in search of coffee and refreshment and found them in a busy cafe-bar near the library. Very much a local’s place, we felt – at one point the harbour master wandered in for his morning coffee – and we enjoyed it. Val had a large slice of a very tasty cake, with numerous layers including a meringue-like topping, chocolate chips, and a sponge. I had to help her finish it….

After that we decided we’d exhausted the charms of Isafjordur and headed back out to the ship. Alas, this involved a half-hour wait for a tender, queuing in the cold wind and the rain. If we weren’t cold when we joined the queue we certainly were when we got back to the ship. The whole process, including boarding the tender, the trip to the ship, and then disembarking the tender and boarding the ship took almost an hour.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: