Leaving the Myvatn Lake region & hotel this morning was like saying good bye to a new friend, one you may never see again. It is a relatively remote area, with wide open space and a very spare landscape. The settlement area is small and our amenities were to be found in the single hotel that is open. If you can recall the Public Market, or later, the Seaside Market on Block Isand (pre 1975) then you can envision the market at Reykjahlid, the settlement where the hotel was. Leaving, today felt like the first - not entirely welcome - step back "to civilization. Mid-day had us stopping at the Christmas Shop. Apparently, a tiny gift shop decorated as Father Christmas' village, filled to the gills with Christmas items - from ornaments, to local memorabilia (Yuletide lads), to Christmas tradition imports - has no international boundaries. Early afternoon had us delivered to our hotel in Akureyri, with the afternoon "free at leisure". Akureyri is the unofficial capital of north Iceland, I.e. a city of commerce along the Eyjafjordur fiord, with an international port, and one of three international airports in Iceland.
However, before leaving the Myvatn area, we visited the bird museum built in memory and honor of Fuglasafn Sigurgeir, a bird enthusiast who collected over 80 species of birds (mostly Icelandic breeding and wintering birds) before his untimely death at the age of 37 - the result of a drowning accident. I was attracted to this museum for the obvious reasons of there being birds, and because of the similarity to our own Elizabeth Dickens bird collection on BI. The setting of this beutiful little museum - on the low land adjacent to Lake Myvatn, right where Mr. Sigurgeir lived, worked, collected the birds, and where today the area continues to be one of the earth's great nesting ecosystems for waterfowl and shorebirds - was stunning in its winter repose. The habitat was peaceful and expansive, and the museum was a mini oasis of human-made warmth, Around the shoveled drifts and the buildings foundation, several snow buntings, already sporting the rusts and browns of spring plumage, were fliting among the sunny spots of shelter. Although The landscape is quiet now, the snow bunting (known in Iceland by two names- winter bird and summer squeaker) will soon be joined by tens of thousands of raucous breeding birds in the Lake Myvatn area.
Our next stop was a repeat visit to Godafoss - waterfall of the Gods. This time we were on the opposite side of the falls. It was a sparkling day of sun and a light covering of new snow. The trail to Godafoss was a wide path that curled out before us like a white velvet ribbon, the only foot prints before our's were those of an arctic fox.
We arriveded in Akureyri in the afternoon, and were released to the streets to explore on our own. There were gulls along the waterfront and ravens keeping watch over me as I walked along. A pretty city of about 17,000 people, Akureyri's main Street rose steeply from the fiord. The best part of the city was our dinner meal. Knowing that it would our last together we all elected to dine together. We have become quite a little band, enjoying each other's company and learning about our differing backgrounds and our similarities. Again, sitting around the table long after the meal was served and eaten (By-the-way, I had guillemot, and it was delicious) we just kept talking. Not really wanting the evening to end, we took a short walk and then drove out of town looking for one more chance to see the aurora - even though we all knew that it was a fools errand, we were happy to be joined in a common venture.