From Iceland — Akureyri: Browsing Backyards on the Verge of Winter

Akureyri: Browsing Backyards on the Verge of Winter

Published December 22, 2009

Photo by
Jói Kjartans

Walking around Akureyri on a beautiful November afternoon got me thinking. Coming from Reykjavík, I’m pretty used to see trash lying around. Compared to Tokyo our capital is like a dumpster filled with candy-wrappers, empty beer-cans and cigarette butts. It’s like a big reminder of a party long gone. Sort of like how Borgartún, our very own Wall Street, appears now, with its broken neon-signs, empty offices and vacant parking lots.

City officials don’t seem to bother much with cleaning the streets, except maybe during high summer, when they have access to cheap labour in the form of drowsy students. ‘Luckily’ we have lots of snow to cover it all up in-between.

This means that from September until May not much is done about cleaning up the streets. And Akureyri doesn’t seem to be that much different. However, what I really love about Iceland’s capital of the North is its connection with the past. They don’t seem to be too eager to tear down old places of value to replace them with some monstrous new ones. Their 10-11 supermarket is located in a 100-year old building. They keep snowmobiles in their gardens. They eat pizza with beef, béarnaise and French fries (it’s called Búkolla and is a must-eat for every visitor).

While us in the city of Reykjavík have erased much of its past with great success, using either bad business ideas or even worse fire prevention constructions, the people of Akureyri seem comfortably rooted in their cosy little town. Maybe Akureyri’s closeness to nature and harsh winters has helped shape their mentality. We, on the other hand, may have been too busy booking flights to sunnier destinations and signalling the doorman at Kaffibarinn to notice our very own Esja.

It’s about time to look around and start noticing all the little details that have gone unnoticed. If it’s snowing, you can always dig in.

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