This week’s post is about one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I wanted to go there for the obscurity of it (I like going places that have few people which is why I usually travel in the off or shoulder season) but this place was beyond my wildest expectations. It’s a little island called Flatey that lies in a piece of the Greenland Sea called Breidafjordur, between West Iceland and the Westfjords. It is only reachable by ferry, which runs once or twice a day, depending on the season. It’s about 2 hours in each direction, so if you go all the way across it takes about 4.5 hours. My original plan was to put my car on the ferry, stop off at the island, and pick up the car in the Westfjords the next day. A change in plans made that impossible so I went from Stykkisholmur and back. Here’s a picture of the ferry Baldur that makes the run, loading up in the harbor at Stykkisholmur.
In the summer you can stop over on the island if you take the morning ferry, and catch the afternoon ferry either back to West Iceland or on to Westfjords. The day I left the ferry was still on winter once a day schedule which required (perfect!) that I spend the night if I got off on the island. There is one hotel on the island which has 11 rooms if I remember right.You can also camp there but I didn’t have any gear and besides I like proper bed. I booked in advance because they have only one single room. As it turned out there were only a total of 7 guests that night, including me. The island is about 1 kilometer wide and 2 kilometers long with only one gravel road. When I arrived they were just in summer start up mode so the only residents on the island were the seasonal hotel staff, the one full time farmer with his family, and a few other residents that make their living harvesting down from the eider ducks. I could go on but I think the pictures will tell the story. Sadly this was the point at which the light leak which I thought I had tested against started to reveal itself, but I still got many good photos. The color is all Agfa Vista 200 pushed 1 stop, the black and white are Svema 64 pushed one with a yellow #15 filter.
The afternoon I arrived it was overcast and drizzling, a perfect mood for solitude and reflection. One of the most prominent features of the island is the huge variety of bird life, including puffins, eider ducks, terns and loads of others I don’t know anything about. Two of the hotel guests were amateur photographers from Switzerland who had come there with their cameras and lenses twice as big as my head just to photograph the birds.
As you can see this place was ridiculously photogenic in both color and black and white. The houses are all painted lovely colors and mostly serve as summer homes for mainlanders. As noted earlier, none of these seasonal residents had arrived as yet. There is reportedly a small shop open in the high season but in the early and late times, the only source of food is the hotel restaurant, which was luckily quite good. The morning of the next day was bright and sunny and gave a different view of things.
I could easily have stayed another night here, just wandering the one road, contemplating my navel (even though it was covered by a sweater and two jackets), and being at peace.