Every year around this time the Queen publishes her New Years Honours list. Not one to be outdone, I thought I’d put together my own list of awards for Iceland. As most of our “big trip” this year was around the Westfjords, you’ll see it’s a little Westfjords-heavy. Don’t worry, I still love the rest of Iceland just as much.
Now, on to the awards:
What you don’t know can’t hurt you award: I’m glad we went to the Sea Monster Museum AFTER visiting the beach down the road – it means I didn’t know I was leisurely lingering around a beach which is apparently riddled with sea monsters including the ones that can come up on land. Anyhow, this sign should have been a giveaway:
Iceland-invader award: The Google Streetview car! I knew it was in Iceland but it was still pretty weird to see it in real life. And although I love being able to see Iceland on Streetview now, it does take some of the mystery away of imagining what a place is like before you get there.
Déjà vu award: the town square, Ísafjörður. It was very weird to see in real life the place that I always looked at on the Ísafjörður webcam – the central town square. It’s amazing how familiar somewhere can become even on a webcam.
Best Icelandic concert award: Believe it or not, it’s not Ásgeir Trausti or Of Monsters and Men. We were lucky enough to see Lára Rúnars, Hafdís Huld, Ragga Gröndal and Védís Hervör, playing for an audience of about 20 people as part of their tour of the Westfjords. It was a very stripped back show with all four playing and contributing to each other’s songs. It was the kind of show that’s hard to imagine happening somewhere else – no egos and they couldn’t have made much money out of it – just four very talented people playing together for the fun of it.
Employee of the year/mistaken identity award: Very often in the Icelandic countryside there is one of those black and white helpful working dogs at your accommodation or where you are visiting. I particularly noticed one of these dogs at the Deildartunguhver hot springs as there didn’t seem to be anyone official working there. The dog had acted so important and proud of itself that I took its picture. Then it turned out it was just some other tourist’s pet. Oops.
Surprisingly good museum award: Natural History Museum, Bolungarvík. I wrote a post about this place, which despite being in the middle of nowhere and in a building that is uninspiring from the outside is very well done. I had low expectations and it surpassed them by a mile. (that was meant to sound more like a compliment than it does)
Not quite what I expected award: There will be a lot who disagree with me on this one as these are two of the Westfjords main attractions. However, both Rauðisandur and Látrabjarg did not live up to my expectations. I’m not sure, but timing may have played a part in both cases. Rauðisandur is a famous red beach and despite following a trail to it, you couldn’t actually get on the beach as there was always water between you and the beach. So maybe the tide was in, although I’ve never seen anyone mention that you need to go at a certain time of day.
Látrabjarg has spectacular cliffs that go on for miles. I realised we were too late by a few days to see puffins but I was still expecting a spectacle of thousands of other birds around the cliffs. Again, maybe the timing was wrong and most of the birds disappear in mid-August. I think both places also felt disappointing as they had involved several hours of driving down bad roads and I enjoyed some of the other things we saw along the way more.
Hidden gem award: I’ve always known there is a lot more to do on the Reykjanes peninsula than I and most travellers do as we rush through it to and from the airport. We spent more time here and I now feel there’s even more to do than I’d thought. There’s lots of good walking which seems to more clearly marked than in other parts of Iceland. I’d also really like to take the time to climb Keilir one day.