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Small Town Livin

Fishing outposts of northern Iceland

Story by Dan Bretl April 24th, 2017

Húsavík

One of our main ambitions for northern Iceland was to get a taste for the small fishing towns in the area. You can cut across the country fairly quickly on the ring road if you want, but we decided to stick to the smaller roads along the coast instead.

We spent the morning of our eighth day in Iceland walking around the docks of Húsavík (population 2182). It's a popular place for whale watching, and indeed we saw a tourist boat pulling out into the harbor under the beautiful blue sky. The most obvious landmark in town is Húsavíkurkirkja, a wooden church built near the water at the start of the twentieth century.

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Goðafoss

We weren't planning on spending much time out in nature, but the sun was shining and our path from Húsavík to Akureyri took us right by Goðafoss, whose name means "waterfall of the gods" and is considered to be one of the most spectacular in Iceland. It has a beautiful crescent shape, and you can walk right up to the rock edge (don't tell Catie). The falls are just a short walk from the parking lot, so we kept our visit brief and then continued on our way.

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sunny fjords

As we drove along the fjords, we enjoyed views of the painted hills and mountains beyond. It had been a while since we'd seen so many clear skies. I'd grown to love the mystery of the usual cloudy misty weather, but this new brighter Iceland had its upsides.

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We stopped and said hello to some cows along our way. A few came over to drink while the rest grazed in a somewhat comically picturesque pasture.

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Siglufjörður

In the late afternoon we arrived in Siglufjörður, the smallest town of the day and our home for the evening. Sigló (as it's affectionately referred to for short) was established around a booming herring industry in the 1940s and 50s. Its population peaked around three thousand people back in its heyday, but it has dwindled since then to just twelve hundred. Despite its size, there are a number of good options for accommodation - especially during the off-season in September. After checking into our stylish guesthouse, we were going to try to squeeze in a short hike up into the surrounding hills, but once we got outside we decided to enjoy the sights in town instead.

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We found some awesome old machinery on the grounds of the Herring Era Museum. Some of it was very big and very orange. I couldn't resist.

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I'm sorry to say we made the wrong choice for dinner - it wasn't bad per se, but it wasn't that great either (and I don't even remember what I had). I wish we had eaten at the guesthouse, which features a high class restaurant led by a master chef who creates Moroccan-style food from local Icelandic ingredients. We stopped in for dessert, and it was one of the most interesting delicious sweet dishes I've ever had - some combination of mandarins, dates, mint, and spices. We'll have to go back. I think I could spend several days in Sigló quite happily.

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Iceland