Isafjordur, Iceland

Isafjordur is on the north coast of Iceland in the West Fjords. Today was the nicest so far. The sun shone, it was relatively warm and the snow capped mountains look spectacular.  There will be 24 hour daylight here until early July. I took a tour to see a botanic garden and a fishing village. We drove through the mountains of Ísafjördur seeing narrow passes which cross sharp mountain ridges, and deep fjords which shelter farms and villages huddled on narrow strips of land (photos). Our first visit was to Skrúður, the first Icelandic botanic garden founded in 1909. It was developed bys the former minister and principal of Núpur, a school, and is known as the cultivation pioneer of Iceland. He grew plants and vegetables that nobody ever dreamed could germinate so far north. I was quite surprised to see the number of blooming plants so soon after the arrival of summer here (photos). After the gardens, we drove to Flateyri village, which was formed around the shark-fishing industry in the mid-19th century. In Flateyri, we began with coffee and homemade Icelandic cakes at a local cafe. Next door was a handicrafts workshop where you could purchase locally made crafts including Icelandic sweaters. We then had time to stroll with our guide down the small main street of Flateyri, seeing many historic houses. We visited the old bookstore and the merchant’s home, still owned by the grandson of the original owner who was happy to show us around his home still containing his grandmother’s furnishings.   We then went to a  small church, typical of what you see in the smaller towns in Iceland. In the church we were treated to Icelandic folk songs sung by a local artist. I had time later to stroll through Isafjordur itself. There are many cafes and small shops which benefit greatly from the tourism brought by cruise ships.

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