Saturday, June 27, 2009

Isafjordur, Iceland

Here in Iceland, in the grocery stores, some foodstuffs are expensive, fresh produce in grocery stores sometimes looks a little dreary (except locally grown hydroponics), but fish and dairy products are very reasonably priced. Yesterday I bought some smoked herring for about CAD$1, enough for 3 people to share and have lots of each. (It was very nice stuff too.) And the dairy products, yum yum! I have been eating lots and lots of skyr, which is like a thick creamy yogourt, except technically a cheese, and it's actually basically fat free. I'm surprised I still like it! I make up with 3.9% milk with breakfast, and occasional treats of "Þykkmjólk" which has about 5% fat (the first letter of Þykkmjólk, if it doesn´t come through, is the letter "thorn" which looks kind of like a P and is "th" like in "thistle", not to be confused with the letter "eth" which looks like a D with a slash and is "th" like in "that"). There are so many milk beverages that many grocery stores have a multilingual chart in the dairy section to tell foreigners what it all is. Yum. There is butter too, which is very good, and usually unsalted.

Tonight I went to a local restaurant specialising in seafood. They are part of the local maritime museum, and they serve whatever the catch of the day is. One of the choices was halibut (my favourite fish), another was salt cod (which I don't think I've ever actually tried) with chili sauce, and there were about two other fish to choose from. I hesitated between the halibut and salt cod, and chose the halibut. While I waited for my order, a French couple walked in, and shared my table (it was crowded). One ordered the salt cod, one ordered something else. When our 3 dishes arrived, I discovered shrimp in the sauce of my halibut. I am allergic to shrimp, and was wondering how I was going to explain this to the waitress whose English was good but not perfect. Fortunately the man (of the French couple) was willing to swap plates with me and I ended up with the salt cod. It was a bit salty, but very delicious and well-prepared. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture.

I did take a picture of the lamb I had last night in the hotel in town. I understand the chef was French-trained, but whatever the case, it was delicious. If you are ever in Iceland, you must try the lamb, even if you are a lamb-hater. It is very tender, juicy, and mild, and almost completely devoid of the sheepy flavour you get in Canadian and New Zealand lamb.

Two nice restaurant meals, two days in a row: a bit of a splurge, so tomorrow it's back to camping grub... er, self-catered meals.

Today I went sea-kayaking in Isafjordur, and tomorrow I will go hiking in the area. The buses here in the West Fjords only run thrice weekly, so I will have had three whole nights here - the longest I have stayed put since leaving Reykjavik! - before continuing south to Reykjavik. The weather was okay Friday, and great yesterday and today. It is supposed to be rainy for the next few days. I guess that when it's rainy, it's better to spend part of your day in a bus rather than in a tent or out hiking, kayaking, etc... and I'll have a bit of buses for the next few days as I make my way back to Reykjavik with detours to the Snaefellsnes peninsula in West Iceland for more glacier and volcano chasing.

It's now midnight, with only a hint of sunset colours in the sky. It never gets dark. The light here is fantastic, though it's hard to make myself wind down and go to bed at the end of the day... but that's what I'll do now, so I can get up relatively early tomorrow for my hike.


Stephen Chapman... said...

I was in Isafjordur last month and thought it was a beautiful town. The weather was hot and sunny... not usual I assume!

I would love to tour round Iceland one day.

Victor Chisholm said...

Right you are, Stephen. Did I really forget to mention how stunning Isafjordur is? Located on a spit of sand in a gorgeous fjord. I went hiking the next day just outside town, from sea level, up to where the snow is still melting to a lake (though not all the way to the top of the mountain - I would have needed more advanced mountaineering skills and equipment to get there), across a lower peak, to another lake, down another river, passing innumerable waterfalls along the way. Wheeee!