Arrived here a few days early in order to sightsee with my daughter. We had allowed ourselves a day to get over jet lag in Reykjavik. After dinner we saw singer Ólöf Arnalds and bass player Skúli Sverrisson at Fríkirkjan, a small-ish church that presents innovative music shows. Annie Clark had played here previously when she was part of Sufjan’s group.
Here’s an improvising (!!) Scandinavian choir that performed there.
We were joined the next morning by Kelly, our trumpet player, and his friend Stephanie, and we headed out towards the peninsula that lies north west of here—it terminates in a mountain topped by the glacier Snaefellsjökull.
On the way we decided to cut north across the peninsula on Route 55—a gravel road. Off to the left we spotted a reddish volcano shaped hill and we headed off on a primitive road towards it through the lava field.
I stopped and got out of the car to admire this barrenness, and my daughter said, “Look, there’s a cup,” pointing into a hole in the lava field (there are many such holes). It wasn’t a cup, I don’t think, I think it was a thermos that she saw. We looked closer, and there was a whole little setup down there in a tiny cave—a car seat, a stack of empty bottles, a bucket (for what?), a primitive table and what might have been a radio. As the photo above shows, there wasn’t anything else around for miles. Not a house or a farm or any sign of human habitation.
It felt weird to stumble on this guy’s hideaway (we simply assumed it belonged to a man)…someone peered in closer and saw…a rusty saw. Now I’m somewhat creeped out. We wondered, does he drive out here from some village or farm some miles away and get sloshed and then stay overnight? Since there are a few cushions scattered around, one has to wonder if he’s sometimes not alone.
We drive on and climb up on the gravelly volcano. There’s a nice view of Mars from up here. If someone did a car commercial on Mars this is what it would look like.
Back on the larger gravel road we continue to Stykkishólmur, a small town where one can catch the ferry north to the Westfjords. We have lunch (mussels, fish soup) and check out the Library of Water—an installation that artist Roni Horn did here. American author Rebecca Solnit actually had a residency here in 2008 and discusses her time there in her recent book, The Faraway Nearby.
It’s in the former town library (what happened to the books?) and from up on the hill one has a nice vista of the whole town.
Inside there are floor to ceiling cylinders filled with water from each of Iceland’s glaciers. One cylinder is filled with water from a glacier that no longer exists. It’s a strangely conceptual piece for this very out of the way town—well, out of the way for many of us.
The caretaker explains the piece to us…then, to emphasize the nice acoustics of the room, she bursts into song. A hymn or some very old choral piece it sounds like to me. It does indeed sound nice in here, though it’s a bit of surprise, as she sings a whole verse, wandering among the cylinders.
From here we head to Bu∂ir—there is nothing else at this spot except the rather modest size luxe hotel, where we stayed, and a black church. We hiked across the lava field to where the lava meets the sea.