Iceland – Part Five


Before returning to the British Isles I wanted to visit the Árbær Open-Air Museum, climb Mt. Esjan, find out about Lúpina and eventually get my hands on a lopapeysa. In the final part of A Fortnight Adventure I’ll tell you about my excursion to downton Reykjavík, Árbæjersafn, my expedition to the pinnacle of Þverfellshorn which also coinsided with a free GusGus gig.

Lopapeysa is the traditional Icelandic hand-knitted wool sweater. In the old days it was mostly worn by fishermen and farmers to stay warm, which was mainly knitted by grandmothers. Lately it has gained a massive popularity most likely related to the 2008 financial crisis when many felt the urge for more simplicity with no money in their pockets. It not only looks aesthetic but also keeps you very warm, being rather a practical feature for hiking and travel purposes.

As it costs a fortune, I decided to track down some second-hand stores on the main shopping street Laugavegur in downton Reykjavík for – hopefully – a perfect gamble. Amongst my choices were Rauði Kross (Red Cross), Spúútnik and the Kolaportið flea market. In spite of browsing through a limited selection of offers between fake, semi-real and echt ones ranging from fairly manageable to ridiculously high prices, to my greatest sorrow I couldn’t find any which would fit me in shape, size nor in colour. Not letting this experience to ruin my adventure, one day I shall return to obtain mine for life or perhaps I’ll knit my own!


Subsequently my unfortunate attempt in securing my future Icelandic sweater I needed to distract my disheartened attention. Being genuinely intrigued by the multi-layered history of the cities I live, I decided to visit Reykjavík’s historical museum of Árbæjarsafn. Having already visited the ones in Copenhagen, Stockholm, Norway and Szentendre I very much looked forward to discover the interesting facts about Reykjavík. It’s an easy bike ride which takes you through the beautiful river and valley of Elliðaárdalur meanwhile you are presented with the splendid view to capital’s pristine nature.

There was a growing local concern in mid-20th century wanting to preserve the historical buildings of old Reykjavík, so in 1957 the open-air museum was founded on the abandoned and vandalised ancient farmsite of Árbær. Following the extensive renovation and construction work, the museum has since won multiple awards. It currenty has over 30 different authentic buildings showcasing the architecture (I personally preferred the kirk), the living conditions and other activities of the people in earlier times. I was very amused to see the staff were wearing authentic period costumes while doing their recreational chores out and about.

Having enjoyed my fascinating stroll around the open-air museum my next adventure concluded in hiking Mt. Esjan which lies 10 km outside Reykjavík. Originally, my plan was to attend the free GusGus gig with a colleague, which gradually turned into a proper hike. Even though she had to drop out in the last minute, she kindly offered to drive me to the foot of the fell. By the time I reached the venue after ca. an hour of an easy hike, the land was covered in a spectacular mist and drizzle. After about 20 minutes pondering on a wet rock I lost my interest in the gig and determined to continue my trek, I took the path leading into the dramatic white abyss topped by Þverfellshorn.

Excited by my smooth ascent into reaching Steinn I kept going upwards surrounded by the obscure haze over the ridge accompanied by the venue’s aural techno-murmur. While being busy taking pictures I also had make sure not to lose my balance on the rather steep mountain-side. The scenery through the entire trek was simply just breathtaking, even covered in mist. I almost felt as if I was on a completely different planet. In spite of having experience in hiking, it was quite a challenge in getting up to the peak of Þverfellshorn. Unfortunately the view was blocked by the whiteness, still it was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure! Perhaps, I’ll be a little bit more luckier during my next visit. One can always hope.

Lúpina or the Alaskan Wolf is probably one of the most argued lilac-coloured plant in Iceland (See below in the Gallery). It is one of the flower that you’ll see a lot around in Iceland. Why is that? – you might ask.  The argument born out of their overbearing character was beause of their nitrogenous healing quality, therefore they spread like wild-fire overtaking the country’s landscape. Well, it was originally introduced in the late 19th century to help restore the soil-erosion which was formerly caused by the activity of early settlers in forestry, building homesteads and chopping firewood. While general plants take the nitrogen from the soil, the Lúpína species gives it back; serving very well for the soil-restoration.


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