The Northeast, Part IV
Thursday, July 12th
Our last destination on this busy Thursday was Akureyri, Iceland's second largest urban area outside of Reykjavik. Home to a modest just-under-twenty thousand people, the city is reputed to have an active arts and cultural scene.
We chose Akureyri for our overnight stay, deciding to stay at the city's rather plain but well-equipped campground, which was conveniently located quite close to the downtown. After setting up our tents, we explored a few of the downtown's main streets.
Overall it felt like a small Reykjavik. There were one or two streets which were clearly more 'central core' than the rest, with nicer sidewalks and more interesting-looking buildings. There was one particularly artsy stretch on one of these main streets, with a corner of an art museum that had various bits of abstract art on and around it, and a string of oversized, over-stylized dresses hung across the street.
Akureyri has another analog to Reykjavik - a striking-looking modern-architecture church situated high on a hill. This one was more angular in style (and of course, smaller) than the Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik. Interesting, if not outright attractive.
We spent a bit more time walking back and forth along the main drag of Hafnarstræti (harbour street). Although it was still a sunny day, it was a bit breezy and the temperature was quite cool - perhaps low to mid-teens (degrees C). Despite that - and also as in Reykjavik - locals appeared to consider this weather a heat-wave, and walked around in t-shirts and shorts.
Late evening saw the arrival of the stomach growls. After a bit of wandering about in search of something interesting, we set upon a restaurant at one of the principle street corners called "Bautinn". They had a mixed variety of standard roadhouse fare, fish dishes, and a few Icelandic specialties. Most of us weren't feeling adventurous, though, and just ordered burgers.
We did a little more walking and sightseeing after dinner (the effectively no-sunset situation tended to promote this sort of thing). We walked up past the main church, visiting the edge of the grounds of the local college, then down along some steeply descending winding paths through a thick band of woods to a lower street (Akureyri apparently has several spots with decently-thick forest, a byproduct of zealous planters and a sheltered microclimate). We got split up with Mr. Hatko, who was little concerned with keeping in sight of the group, forcing us to do a little reconnaissance to get everyone back together again.