Magu Bee at World's End

A travel blog of one crazy Magu Bee traveling the globe.

I would have never decided to go to Dalvik, had I not read an article about the annual Fiskidagurinn Mikli (The Great Fish Day) shortly before leaving for my trip


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I immediately wrote Antoine and he agreed to go up north to this little fisherman town and try to catch some free fish.

We started in the early afternoon from Mosfellsbaer, where we spent the night with my hosts from Keflavik at their parents' country house. We positioned ourselves near a roundabout at the main road (there's one ring road on Iceland - Route 1, which goes all around the island. It sure makes hitchhiking really easy - you never have to wonder which road to take - there's just one!) and within 5 minutes or so we already had a ride. Not a bad one either and I mean both the car, and the distance it was going - the driver (a pretty well known Icelandic cameraman from what I gathered) was headed to a place called Siglufjördur. It is home to a Herring Festival by the way, but more importantly to us, it is located a bit further up north from Dalvik. 5 minutes and already a ride for around 5 hours? Great start!

It got even better when the driver received a call from a friend living in Dalvik, who insisted he drop by for a cup of fish soup. Thus, we got a ride all the way to town and got dropped off almost at the entrance to a camp site. 


It was a Friday evening, the eve of the festival, and there were already quite a lot of people. The nice surprise was the fact that the camp site and its facilities were for free. As I later learned, it wasn't the only one. We set up the tent (well, Antoine did - it was the 1st time I ever saw it) and set off on a quest to find us some soup.

None of those big tents is ours, just to make things clear.

And why was it the fish soup that caught his attention? Well, the festival is basically an all day long event on Saturday, when people can enjoy food and music in the town's harbour. However, there are several families who open up their houses and backyards to strangers (and neighbours and friends) on Friday evening. They set up tables, prepare cups, napkins and bread and serve you delicious home made soup with chunks of different fish and seafood.


 
First, you wait in a long (or longer) line of others like you. When you finally reach the beginning of the queue, you are asked to sign a guest book, usually writing your full name and hometown/country. Again, as I'd later learn, it's an Icelandic tradition to have a guest book in your house and ask your guests or visitors to write down the date of their visit and the place they're coming from. Personally, I think it's an amazing idea!
After you've finished with the formalities, you move on to the table where the hosts offer you their soup and you help yourself to some bread.
Once you're all set, you move out to make place for the next hungry looking person in line and find yourself a bit of space in the hosts' garden to enjoy the meal. You can take your time savouring the taste or quickly go back to the street and start looking for the next open house.

I think we managed to try soup in four different houses and the one I fell in love with was Indian tasting and came with a spoon of.. wheeped cream!


Many people decorate their houses, also the street corners are taken care of - many are decorated with a little stall made of fishnet with a rope keeping together tens of dried fish heads (yes, I took one of those as a souvenir and it's looking at me from my shelf this very moment).



I'm not sure but I think the soup is being handed out between 7 and 10 pm and it's also a very busy and cheerful time throughout the otherwise calm and quite town. No wonder - its 1.400 inhabitants turn into up to 30 000 visitors on the Fiskidagurinn mikli. There were also some concerts on people's porches which gathered small crowds all around.
There's one pub overlooking the harbour, so we popped in for a while. I loved the atmosphere 'cause there was a live band playing Icelandic music, people were dancing and drunk singing, everyone happy and carefree. A typical festive ambience.


Another thing I'll remember for a long time is how we first reacted to the (in)famous lopapeysa - the Icelandic sweater. I knew about them before landing on Icelandic soil (translation: I've read some jokes) and so seeing one wasn't so much of a surprise. Antoine however, the first time he saw a group of teenagers standing on a street corner enjoying the evening all clad in the same style sweater, thought it was a joke. I laughed and said Nah, that's just what they wear in here! but he wouldn't quite believe me. 

After seeing people all sizes and ages wearing them around us (when we were queuing for the first soup, there was even a couple whose sweaters were matching that of their dog's...), we knew they were for real..

I must admit that at first you look at them and find them funny or ugly. However, if you keep on seeing them day in day out on practically everybody for a couple of weeks, you come to a conclusion that there's gotta be some secret to it and start wanting one yourself. Unfortunately, the sweaters get rather pricey, especially in all the tourist shops around, usually around 20 000 - 25 000 ISK. I wanted an Icelandic sweater but I wasn't willing to pay a fortune to get it. 
Solution? 
Knit one myself! More about it from Ísafjörður.