The Akureyri Falls and Farmland tour began promptly at 8am. After loading our motor coach to capacity we were coach number 3 in a 4 coach departure. Our first stop was the Lystigardur Botanical Garden which is just 500 meters from the Akureyri Church. We had 28 minutes to spend at the botanical garden. Since we visited the gardens in late August, most of the flowers were beyond their peak season so there was ample time to walk the paths at a brisk pace.
Our next stop was Godafoss the waterfall of the heathen gods. The drive from the Lystigardur Botanical Gardens to the Godafoss waterfall was 45 minutes. The town of Akureyri is currently building a tunnel through the mountain that will be 8 kilometers long and will cut this driving time in half. The anticipated opening of the tunnel is 2017. On the way to the waterfall, we drove along the Skjálfandafljót River, the fourth longest river in Iceland measuring 178 kilometers in total length. Upon arrival at the viewing site, the motor coach let us off on the Western side of the waterfall and picked us up on the Eastern side. This required that we view the waterfall and walk back to the beginning of the trail, in a horseshoe like manner, and cross a narrow bridge to get to the Eastern side. All in all it sounded like a good plan. But, as this was a rushed tour we had merely 40 minutes to spend here and that time began before the motor coach was even parked. Needless to say, many folks did not get to visit both sides of the falls as it required you to keep a brisk pace to properly manage the time allotted at the site. I will say, however, that it was worth this quickened walk to the Eastern side of the falls as the photo opportunities were much better here.
The last stop of this tour was the best. We visited the Laufas Turf Houses that were just 20 minutes from the port of Akureyri. The curators of this exhibit were dressed in period clothing and the self-guided tour of the houses is a must do. One word of advice is that when entering the house area stay to the right and enter the tour at the beginning interweaving throughout the houses. We failed to notice this and began by going up the left side essentially doing the tour in reverse once we figured out what was actually going on. Each room of the Turf House contains many decorations and household items from the period of 1853 to 1882.
On the grounds also sits the Laufas Church which was built in 1865 and includes a pulpit from 1698 by Illugi Jonsson. At the back of the church are narrow stairs which will help elevate you to get a full interior photo of this small structure. A gift shop and café also sit on the grounds for those who have the time to sit about and relish the atmosphere. We were allotted 40 minutes for this attraction.
The last thing that we learned about the people of Iceland is they are terribly obsessed with ancient mythology. An example of this is in regards to building new roads. If a construction crew runs across a large stone in the construction path, the Icelandic people may protest moving the stone because many believe that elves live under these big rocks. Therefore, the road path may need to be moved or adjusted to keep large rocks in their original places. Crazy, but true!
After we returned to port we still had about three hours before the ship’s departure. We found a bakery on the corner that had lots of chocolate pastry items so we stopped in for a quick bite. Then we climbed the steep stairs to Akureyrarkirkja the Lutheran church of Akureyri and went inside. There was a nice view of the harbor from the top of the hill. I also noted that the Lystigardur Botanical Garden was just down the road from this location. After our inside visit and a few photo’s we walked the town and headed back to the ship.
Cruise Port: Akureyri, Iceland
Steps logged: 10,889