Taxi’s in Reykjavik aren’t cheap, but as the local buses didn’t start running until 11am we splashed out £16 to get us the few km’s to the domestic airport. Typically, the flight to Isafjordur, in the North West Fjords, was then delayed thanks to strong winds, but we entertained ourselves by people watching those taking flights to Akureyri and Egilsstadir. Eventually, we boarded the second smallest plane we’ve ever been on, in both cases in Iceland, and taxi’d very quickly down a runway so icy that the airport would have been closed for business had it been based in the UK.
The flight to Isafjordur only takes forty minutes. We were served tea and coffee a few minutes after take off, only to have it taken away from us again when we hit turbulence. We didn’t even get our first sip. The other passengers didn’t bat an eyelid though so I focused less on the turbulence, and more on the stunning snow covered landscape below. Most of Iceland’s population live in Reykjavik and on the coast. The interior is largely empty, meaning that those in search of wild places are never disappointed.
The turbulence stayed with us as the plane came to land, and I gripped Rich’s arm very tightly as we flew alongside the mountain face. It really does feel like you’re within touching distance, and so not a trip I’d recommend if you’re afraid of flying! Unless you can afford lots of hypnotherapy beforehand. And tranquilisers.
Our bag was quickly ejected on the world’s smallest baggage dispenser, and we rushed outside to catch the mini bus into town. The bus meets every flight, and as Isafjordur is so small, the driver will drop you right outside your accommodation. At £5 each it’s convenient, and cheaper than a taxi.
We stayed at the Managisting guesthouse on Managasta. As a former Salvation Army hostel which lay empty for twenty years, it’s only recently been renovated. For 60 euros we had an apartment to ourselves, and one which was way beyond our expectations. Clean, well equipped, spacious and quiet, and an absolute bargain given that one of the hotels in town was charging over £100 a night for a double room. At Managisting we had a twin room, shower, toilet and kitchen, and even a seating area with telly. We’d definitely consider coming back here for a few days in the winter. I suspect that it’ll be much busier in the summer.
After dropping our bags off we went in search of a simple lunch from the supermarket, and then spent an hour exploring the old town and harbour until it became too dark and windy for Rich to balance easily.
As it was December 29th the only place open for dinner was ‘Pizza 67’ – an old style diner and fast food restaurant, but we’ve always been fans of cheap and cheerful. This was obviously the local hangout for teenagers and over fish and chips we watched a few budding romances develop. Guitars line some of the walls, alongside paintings by local artists, giving it that quirky fifties Icelandic vibe.
Isafjordur really does have a lovely feel to it. This was our second trip there, having previously only spent a few hours up here sea kayaking two years ago, but it was enough to make us want to come back soon. The Managisting care taker reckoned that it’s one of the friendliest places in Iceland, and we’d be inclined to agree. Mind you, we’ve yet to meet a really unfriendly person anywhere in the country. It’s a place we’ve just always felt comfortable in – liberal, outward looking, progressive, assertive, adventurous and hardy. What’s not to love?