The most remote university in the world?

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Travel

Bifröst University from new perspective or hiking to the Hraunsnefsöxl mountain

In the middle of nowhere or between two volcanoes? Small community or village. Just former Hotel Bifröst with restaurant, gym with sauna and whirlpool, few houses around. Plus university of course.

Where are we going for groceries? In emergency situations in small shop on campus. But most likely borrowing school car, driving 30 km to the town of Borgarnes and shopping in cheaper Bónus supermarket.

Just few minutes of walk and you can be standing on the edge of Grabrok vulcano behind the campus. This view gives you good idea how is the Bifröst university tiny and remote.

But from top of the nearby Hraunsnefsöxl mountain I started thinking again how is this university unique. Do you know any other university which is smaller or more isolated?

Following pictures show our journey on top of the “cliff mounain” Hraunsnefsöxl.

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Return from Ísafjörður with one day delay

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Bolungarvik, Labrador on the front seat, arctic foxes, lost in Súðavík

Sunday, its almost 12 o’clock, its morning. Morning time after second night of Aldrei festival. Toasts, mixed eggs with onion and ham as proper breakfast. Quickly packing and leaving our guesthouse after 1 o’clock. Time to go home and switch-on optimistic hitch-hiking mindset for following 400km back to Bifröst.

Slow down. Not yet. We decided that we will not leave the Westfjords yet. Why not make  a short trip opposite direction? Direction closer to the end of the Ísafjarðardjúp fjord. Just 15km far away,  where town of Bolungarvík is located. Place where roads more or less ends. At least in winter. For both of us symbolic place. The most western and also most far away place from our home countries which we visited so far. South_001-Pano

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Aldrei fór ég suður

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“I never went South” music festival in Ísafjörður

I have been impressed by Westfjords from beginning, the drive was long but with amazing view on the raw countryside with fjords. We had a big expectations from festival but also we haven’t been sure what to expect.

Aldrei is organized since 2004 every Easter in capital of Westfjords. Time when town is slowly waking up from winter. Story behind the origin represents the name of festival itself.

As in every country capital and countryside are different. People like to magnify differences, stereotypes, jokes and tease each other. This is also case with Aldrei versus Reykjavik aka South.

Following the original “I never went south” motto of festival we have been curious what locals would tell us about Westfjords. What is their opinion about this remote part of Iceland? We asked following set of questions:

Why they would not move “south”?

What does locals like about Westfjords?

What make this part of Iceland so special?

Answers have been various and also we enjoyed the interaction with people. Thank you for participation.

Festival

Previous years festival was two days long. Same for 2016. Main concert was on Friday and Saturday from 8pm to 12pm. Parties continued in town’s pubs afterwards. Many famous names played on stage. For example popular Emilíana Torrini. Not familiar with the name? What about catchy tune Jungle Drum?

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Venue was large warehouse in harbor

Friday night

Off-venue concert in Suðureyri

Concert on Saturday afternoon with one anniversary in mind. Celebrating was Icelandic outdoor clothes brand 66° North. 90 years since it was established in 1926. Actually in the same village.

Event supposed to be at swimming pool. We have been really curious about this. Unfortunately due to bad weather event was moved to one of the warehouses in harbor.

I think the concert was success and very unique event. Warehouse was large enough to fit everyone in. Cozy and friendly atmosphere. For such small community I had feeling that there is musician in every Icelandic family.

More words about Suðureyri in separate post.

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Saturday night

Souvenirs

66° North was selling the themed clothes at the concert. I was trying to avoid to buy the simple N 66° Hat for three months. Hat which I noticed is very popular among youngsters.

First NO I said on board of WOW air flight from Berlin. Later, hat followed me in literally every souvenir shop in Iceland.

On festival I had to give up. I liked Aldrei fór ég suður hat for two reasons.

It seemed as great souvenir from festival.

After my first Erasmus exchange I became fan of Nordic countries. Not to mention,  I was always attracted to visit north. In this sense Aldrei fór ég suður motto represents my preferences for travelling surprisingly well!

Also not to forget, it looked warmer than my old hat.

I was convinced but not sold. When I decided I will buy one, they have been sold out already on Friday night. N 66° I guess you already know you should improve this.

Few snapshots of audience

My favorite TOP 3 from Aldrei

  1. Ulfur Ulfurheavy atmosphere, cool beats, didn’t understand single word from Icelandic lyrics but followed the crowd. Enjoyed every rap track and have had hell of lot of fun!
  2. Glowie – opened Aldrei on Friday evening, loved singer’s pleasant voice, songs in English,  not fun of “jogging suit” but for some reason it fits the singer well and was stylish
  3. Risaeðlanso much energy, amazing performance and crazy theatrical show, like a two furious witches raping their violin and saxophone! Two guitarists completely calm whole session, priceless. I was surprised and impressed by the band. 

Wrap up

How was the Aldrei 2016? Definitely worth to visit. Ísafjörður was such a amazing lively busy town. The concert line-up was filled in with many famous names. Atmosphere was friendly, crowd filled by all age groups.

One thing makes Aldrei very special. Town is quite small and there aren’t many pubs. You will definitely bump into singer or somebody famous ordering pint of beer like you!

It was a big festival with great sound and benefits of small locally organized event. No strict bouncers, no hassle with tickets and ques as concert was for free. You could even bring your favorite beer with you inside!

We have been surprised with Janis that concerts haven’t been as wild as we expected but cool cultural experience. Audience was so supportive, nobody was too drunk, but everybody was jumping around and singing along. I imagine bands enjoyed Aldrei a lot too.

I guess there aren’t many festivals when you will be jumping around in winter jacket and wearing warm hat. We wish Ísafjörður arrival of spring as soon as possible!

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Exploring Suðureyri

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After first concert night we woke up around lunch time and decided to head to Suðureyri. A village where off-venue concert was taking place.  It supposed to be on swimming pool but due to a bad weather it was moved to one of the warehouses in harbor.

Concert was held with one anniversary in mind. Celebrating was Icelandic outdoor clothes brand 66° North. 90 years since it was established in 1926. Exactly here, in Suðureyri. In this post I would like to write more about village. I cover off-venue concert in separate article about Aldrei festival.

Suðureyri is 25km from Ísafjörður. Transportation to the village was smooth. We have been lucky. We got a ride quickly. Hitch-hiking was simple. Driving was  an American woman who studies coastal and marine management in Ísafjörður. On the way with pass a ski slopes and long single line tunnel with a crossroad in the middle.

Stinky fish factory or how we accidentally not even knowing met an Icelandic actor?  Read More

Travelling to Westfjords

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Elf church, fjord in shape of boot, abandoned farm, all possible types of weather in one afternoon

Westfjords, most remote part of Iceland. Many times missing in travel itinerary when driving around the country on ring road.

We skipped the Sonar music festival in Reykjavik due to high entrance and decided to focus on Aldrei in Westfjords instead. Aldrei fór ég suður in translation “I never went south”. A local music festival happening every Easter since 2004. Nowadays running for a two days. Curious about event and also Westfjords it was a great occasion to spend last March weekend away from Bifröst campus.

Just Janis and me. Short trip on budget. Packing lightweight. Method of transport hitch-hiking. Planned departure 11am. Real departure 12 o’clock. Hitch-hiking spot with crossroad to Westfjords was 5km away. With a sign 5km and smiley face we got a ride almost instantly. Now waiting for a main 400km ride!

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South Iceland

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Following the filming locations in south

Many movies have been filmed in Iceland. Untouched wild nature or the glaciers which look like out of planet earth. Perfect for a sci-fi locations. This was the case for Interstellar. Scenes have been filmed at Svínafellsjökull, east of Skaftafell, an outlet glacier of largest glacier in Iceland – Vatnajökull.

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Map of filming locations in Iceland. Interstellar in yellow!

Mentioned glacier and ice cave were our main attractions of the trip. While driving I found out that also Justin Bieber shoot one of his videoclips in Iceland. Are you fan of him? Good for you! I am NOT. But I recommend you to have a look anyway!

Pure Icelandic nature, most of the locations are actually in south Iceland. We visited majority of these. Justin Bieber will show you south Iceland in summer. Now get ready for a winter edition in our way! Can you recognize the places?

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Two (rainy) days in Glasgow

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Travel

Yes, Scotland IS different from England.

Cheapest flight is not the shortest or direct flight. Returning from Slovakia back to Nottingham it was true. Instead of straight flight my plan was take it through Scotland to visit also this part of UK so I can finally compare it to England and make my own opinion.

I couldn’t decide which city to visit: Edinburgh or Glasgow? Even flights were the same price, similar time.

In the end decision was Glasgow. Arrival in evening, one whole day to look around and departure next morning. Unfortunately I had no luck for a weather! Rain and wind almost non-stop.

What did I noticed about Scotland?
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Youth exchange on Estonian island

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Travel / Youth exchange

Where? As organizers welcomed us: In middle of nowhere of middle of nowhere.

“Life in periphery,” on Saaremaa island. A youth exchanged focused on ways how to increase opportunities for youth in rural areas. How to avoid trend of urbanization and leaving to the big towns and cities. Topic which I was familiar with thanks to my bachelor degree in regional development. I was looking forward to apply my knowledge and also implement it in one non-formal workshop.

Teams were from Poland, Latvia, Netherladns and Czech republic (with one Slovak in disguise :D)

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Location definitely matched theme of the project. We have been living one hour from main town of Saaremaa – Kuressaare. In couple of cottages, next to farm and summer camp. But that’s not everything. Read More