Posted by: neilh10 | March 21, 2011

Guest Review #1: Flateyri in March.

This is my first guest review – written by Sharmila Meadows, who visited Flateyri earlier this month.

Winter in Iceland. Hmm. It may not immediately ignite the imagination, but stop awhile to consider and you might just change your mind. I did wonder as I prepared for a March vacation in the Westfjords whether I had slightly abandoned common sense, but bouyed by the prospect of the northern lights and a break from work, I excitedly packed my bags. What I discovered was yes, the northern lights (on three separate occasions) but also an unforgettable winter paradise.

We took the picturesque drive from Keflavik International Airport to Flateyri, where we arrived to a spacious and tasteful apartment. Staying at the flat enabled us to have a Nordic adventure with all the comforts of home; a well-equipped kitchen, cosy lounge and bedrooms and a piping hot shower (very important!). It also offered us wonderful views of the sea and mountains from the safety of a sofa and an atmosphere conducive to kicking back and unwinding. Flateyri itself is a pleasant fishing village, and we were blessed with brilliant sunshine on our first full day there, which enabled us to explore the area on foot, enjoying the beach and walking trails situated just five minutes from the apartment.

Flateyri proved a convenient base from which to discover the wider region. Isafjordur, the key hub of the Westfjords, is a short drive away and from there you can venture further north to the inviting peaks that surround the villages of Hnifsladur and Bolangarvik. The drive south to the village of Thingeyri (about 35km from Flateyri) takes you through majestic mountain passes, which resemble a heavenly storehouse for snow, and weaves delicately around Dyrafjordur. It was a drive to remember. Buffetted by a wintry gale, we were unable to attempt the mountain walks that had drawn us there, but the gale gave us an inspiring journey with snow billowing across the road before us like wispy curtains, which lent the surrounding landscape a haunting beauty. Mesmerised by the scene, we retraced our route to Flateyri and continued 20 minutes north to the delightful fishing village of Sudureyri. Think charming hamlet nestled on the atlantic coast, with brightly painted wooden houses and a pretty green-steepled church. The arctic conditions appeared to have kept the locals indoors and made it hard for us to stay on our feet (!) but our brief yet bracing stop left us driving ‘home’ to Flateyri feeling like real explorers who had braved the elements and survived (albeit mostly from within the confines of a 4X4).

My personal highlight was the geothermal pools. They had very much enticed me to Iceland and they did not disappoint. My first experience of an outdoor pool was at the Reykjanes Hotel (about 1.5 hours from Flateyri on the route 61 south from Isafjordur towards Holmavik). The outside temperature was -3, but the waters offered us 39 degrees’ warmth complemented by a backdrop of bright sunshine and snow encased mountains. (The waters also left my skin looking and feeling more radiant than any London beautician could – and all this for the cost of about £1!). You can top or tail your dip with a tasty meal at the hotel, accompanied by a warm reception from the owners. The nearest outdoor pool to the apartment is at Sudureyri but if you fancy an indoor swim with a dip in a hot tub and sauna, then you only have a one minute walk from the apartment to the local baths where for the equivalent of about £2.50 I enjoyed all three. Stepping out of the Flateyri baths after my swim, hot soak and sauna into deep snow and that mountain view was a truly exhilirating experience. I’m pretty sure my heart skipped a beat.

And a word about the locals. I thought my Asian appearance might draw some looks in these far northern climes, but I encountered a friendly welcome where ever I went, with the people keen to help and find out what had brought me to their little island. Even my lame attempts at Icelandic were met with much enthusiasm (just knowing how to say “thank you” and “goodbye” in the native tongue will win you smiles!). These wonderful moments with Icelanders made me content that I was not simply a tourist, but someone who had conversed with the locals and learnt something about Iceland from its people.

Iceland in winter. Starry nights, deep blue seas, soaring white mountains and mounds of snow. Snow. Enriching the Icelandic landscape to create breathtaking vistas. At times it felt like walking on the moon and at others, like driving through heaven itself. So, my advice is to pack your bags (complete with thermals, boots and a warm coat) and head for Flateyri. You’ll have an adventure in all the best senses of the word.

Sharmila Meadows, March 2011

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Responses

  1. Sharmila nice article you have written – I´ll be moving shortly to the westfjords specifically Isafjordur to live. Though I´d get some advice from you 🙂
    Not in terms of outdoor activities, what would your advice be in terms of clothing? I´ve lived in the past in below zero continental central areas – but never on coastal areas. Was wondering if you could really tell me how does a 0 degree temp really feels like? I´ve been advice as to Jeans, wool hat/scarf/socks, gloves, waterproof – boots and jacket + parka and sweater. I´d really appreciate any advice due to your experience on this matter.

    Some friend told me that unless you plan on skiing or out-door activities – basic below zero clothing will be just fine.

    Thanks!!!


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