“There goes that m-th–f—ing ice cream truck!” Dan, one of our gracious hosts, yells at a passing truck as we’re driving to dinner.
Beautiful scenery, small town living, angry kria (artic tern), and missed opportunities with the town ice cream truck…this is everyday life in Blönduós.
Blönduós is a small farm town in Northern Iceland, hometown to a Textile Museum, the river Blanda, and a close-knit community of Icelanders.
Oh yes, and our new friends, Dan and Catherine.
Originally from the U.S., Dan and Cat are both researchers in natural science working and living in Blönduós. Before visiting Iceland, Mike’s roommate Holland virtually introduced us to Dan and Cat, who he knew from time he lived in Kodiak, Alaska (we have such worldly friends).
After arriving, we got in touch with them, and they graciously opened their home to us (despite the fact that Cat’s pregnant and only a few weeks shy of her due date). We decided to take them up on it and venture up to see what it’s like to be a “Pat” living in Northern Iceland.
Thanks to a friendly fisherman headed North, we made it to Blönduós at about midnight local time. Cat had gone to bed, but Dan greeted us with a smile and oh yes, beer. We stayed up and chatted for a bit, then passed out, not to wake up again until 2 PM the next day.
Living out of a backpack abroad is fun and exciting, but has disadvantages. You get used to going without your “creature comforts” – a regular bed to sleep in, knowing the next time you’re going to eat, etc. Even the most basic of things I’m used to, like sleeping next to Mike, doesn’t happen when we’re staying at a hostel.
Crashing with Dan and Cat was a little escape to some of those comforts. Especially since in a cozy town like Blönduós, it’s easy to feel at home. We spent a lot of time working (hurrah for reliable internet!), but also, spent a lot of time losing ourselves in the local sites and scenery. [All the pictures of Blönduós]
Top Ten Things We Did In Blönduós
1. Climb (and slide) down a mountain
This isn’t the first time we’ve climbed a mountain in Iceland, but it certainly was the best one. Mike and I took a few hours off from our work and climbed a local mountain range near Húnavatnshreppur, off of Route 1 and down 722 (for those of you local to Iceland). We took a lot of great pictures, drank from mountain streams, and slid down parts on our behinds.
2. Finally visit a geothermal swimming pool
People couldn’t believe it when we told them we hadn’t visited a pool yet – even though we’ve been here a week. Icelanders love their geothermal pools – pretty much every town has one. The day we went was extremely cold with a wind coming in directly from the North Pole. The water (naturally heated) was absolutely incredible and bonus, the pool had water slides. They may or may not have just been for kids.
3. Play an Icelandic stick game
My family loves to play yard games – croquet, badminton, etc. so I was excited when Dan and Cat introduced us to an Icelandic game called (gotta double check the name). I was terrible at it, probably since I was drinking wine while playing, but it was really fun.
4. Try fermented shark (with Brennavin)
Fermented shark gets a pretty bad rap, and Mike and I were expecting the worst. We tried the shark with brennavin, aka, the Black Death, and were surprised to find it actually wasn’t that bad.
5. Watch Twin Peaks
We don’t watch a lot of movies/TV on the road, but Dan and Cat were watching Twin Peaks at their office, so we decided to join them. I’ve never seen Twin Peaks and neither has Mike, but it’s a cult classic, and as hipsters, we had to fulfill our hipstery duties of watching it. It was entertaining.
6. Have the most incredible lamb ever
I promise you – you could go around the entire world and not find lamb as delicious as Icelandic lamb. Cat says it’s because the lambs are all free range and spend their time frolicking through the hills, eating herbs and “seasoning themselves” until they’re made into dinner. It was super delicious, and probably some of the best meat I’ve ever had.
7. Try horse at Potturinn Restaurant
Iceland is known for it’s weird delicacies – horse being one of them. It’s a little controversial in the U.S., but in Scandanvian and some other European countries, having horse is not a big deal. Mike ordered horse at the local restaurant, Potturinn (Icelandic for Pot), I tried some. Fun fact: Potturinn was once called “Pot and Pan”, but the partners went their separate ways – Pan to Reykjavik – leaving just “Pot”.
Hrútey is an island in the river Blanda, located within Blönduós. Accessible only by bridge, Hrútey is a popular place for birdwatching, berry picking and just enjoying the outdoors. Mike and I walked around Hrútey with Dan, who showed us a geo-tag located on the island (not telling where it is).
9. Experience a real Icelandic grocery store
We stopped at convenience stores in Reykjavik prior to this, Mike and I hadn’t been in an actual grocery store here. We saw a lot of interesting things we wanted to eat, a lot of dairy – cheese, cream cheese, ice cream, and a ton of lamb. After mountain climbing, we were famished, and found a footlong neopolitan danish there that we demolished within 10 minutes.
10. Hitch a ride with an amazing Belgium couple
As we were leaving Blönduós, we had decided to either hitchhike, or if all failed, take the bus for 6000 krona each. Luckily, a Belgium couple traveling South overheard our conversation and graciously offered us a ride. We had a great conversation about Belgium beer, American film, and various places the couple had ventured so far (basically everywhere).