Easter in Iceland is a long long long weekend. Thursday through monday. Lee, Alda and I decided to make it even longer, and skipped out of work early Wednesday afternoon to drive to Ísafjörður. It was the town ski festival, it was the Aldrei fór ég suður rock festival, it was where I was born, and it was a long long long weekend. Need any more reasons?
A pretty pleasant drive up, you feel like you're making such good progress, until you realise just how much backtracking you have to do when you hit fjord land. We had great weather for the drive up, and a brand new borrowed land cruiser to cruise in. Still fairly early in the season, a few bits of road were pretty chopped up. I definitely could have made it in the micra, but it sure was casual in a big truck.
We arrived just on sunset, pulling into our luxurious residence for the weekend. Alda had grown up in Ísafjörður, and her parents still spent every summer up there, and kept a house in town. It wasn't summer yet, so we had a full appartment for us to make our own.
Ísafjörður is a full on fjord town. On the water, and steep hills on both sides. And snow. Not hardcore ski resort snow, but a LOT more snow than we still had loitering around down south. And because it was dark, and winter, and good weather, we had a pretty good chance of seeing some northern lights. So we did. Fabulous, raging, really strong ones. Probably the most active I've seen so far. A great way to arrive in town.
Thursday we headed up the hill to get some skiing in. Great setting, though the snow cover was a bit thin. Like Hlíðarfall in Akureyri, I can imagine that this would be a fabulous destination in good conditions. As it was, we had a good day playing around and exploring. Alda tried out the snow board, and we generally just soaked up the clear (enough) skies and the absence of the wind.
All good so far! Thursday night, we joined the pub quiz in town. We didn't do very well, given that it was mostly about the festival, with a distinct edge going to the locals. (see Aldrei fór ég suður for more info.) The highlight here was definitely having the host (Muggi Papa, chief organiser of the festival) announce an answer, and have half the room yell back that he was wrong. The question had been "What are the full names of Ragga and Stebbi?" (Two local helpers and well known characters) To settle the dispute, Muggi Papa rang up Ragga's father, passed pleasantries, and enquired as to what his daughter's real name was. Problem solved, and the crowd was correct. Such a great sight, half a room paused with pens and beers, while the host chats pleasantly with an old friend. Local quality at it's best.
Friday! More skiing! A dress up day on the mountain, with a band playing, a bbq, and general fun in the sun. Polla Pönk, the band playing at the mountain were a cool find. Rock and Roll for kids basically. Cheerful, infectious, bouncy, and musicians with rubber faced expressions. Fun for everyone.
Friday night was day one of the festival, which I talk about in it's own page.
Saturday, after partying well into the night at the only other venue in town, Krúsinn, after the show finished, was spent loitering around town, investigating "The old sick house" where I'd been born, browsing the old library and gallery that occupies the building now. After lunch, it was time for more rock. Saturday was the big day, starting at 3pm or so.
Sunday! wow, so many days, this weekend was just non stop action! Sunday was a musicians thank you dinner at Bolungarvík, but in the afternoon was a swim day. We'd all gone up for a ski session early, but Alda and I got tired and decided that a swim sounded like a much better idea. Lee stayed to enjoy the inch of fresh snow that had falled over night.
The pool day was fabulous. A whole heap of musos and friends, all lounging around a pool, or soaking in the hot tubs, absolutely packing out the bolungarvík pool. And occasionaly a swimsuit attired muso picking up a guitar from the side of the pool and jamming something. But the best bit, the secret bit, the unexpected bit, was well hidden. There were speakers in the pool! If you had your ears out of the water, it was just like any old pool, chatter, splashing, and just what looked like a dj box, doing nothing. But dive under, and your ears filled with sound. Recognizable, real, music. Clear, not just recognizable. Fabulous.
It shouldn't need to be said of course, but during this whole time, we'd also had a house of friends to loiter and relax in, especially after Dóri and Íris joined us on friday.
Still, all good things come to and end, and with a long drive ahead of us, and a Björk concert on Monday night that Alda and I were going to, when monday morning dawned, (well, when we dawned to monday morning) it was time to pack up the show, and move on.
The drive home gave us the usual perfect blend of icelandic weather. Complete white outs crossing passes in the west fjords, through to warm sunny lazy days coming through the north, and back into rain and grey in the south.
Final words for a trip like this? Well, what could be said?!