Iceland, with its many natural wonders, has become one of the world´s favorite travel destinations. Many who visit develop an unconditional love for the country with its mind-bending scenery, the simple and uncomplicated yet boldly flavored food . . . but above all the sincere local hospitality!
Being Icelandic, but having lived abroad and traveled around the world for most of my life, it might come as a surprise to some of you that Iceland still remains my all-time favorite place to visit. Apart from enjoying spending time with family and friends, no matter how often I visit, the country’s rugged landscapes and magical natural beauty never seize to amaze me.
On all my travels I’m always eager to discover new tastes that excite and get my taste buds drooling! This time in Iceland was no exception and I look forward to sharing with you, in the coming weeks, some of the highlights of my recent trip which, at times, had a kind of ease that only comes from time spent in the same place!
One of these places is the small village of Skógar, situated 150 km east of Reykjavik (Iceland’s capital). Skógar, which literally means forests, has a population of about 20 people and features a truly unique regional museum, a hotel and is in short walking distance from the beautiful Skógafoss waterfall.
The Skógar Museum is a relatively old museum. It opened in 1949 and in the beginning the artefacts used to be on display in summer time only in the classrooms of the Skógar schoolhouse which also served as a hotel in the summer time . . . and where I worked as a teenager for three summers!
Believe it or not . . . this is actually the place where my culinary skills were first put to a test at the young age of 13. Upon the hotel chef’s sudden illness a friend convinced the hotel’s director that I was much better suited to cooking than cleaning hotel rooms!!! With a fully booked hotel and nobody else to cook the director didn’t have much choice but to test my abilities which, fortunately for me, turned out to be more than adequate! Thus without any hesitation I happily left the cleaning to others and concentrated on cooking Icelandic specialties for truly hungry but always very appreciative tourists for about 8 weeks.
This time around, in mid-September, I didn’t do any cooking! Instead I enjoyed the hospitality and cooking of my dear friend and cousin Haldóra . . . in the family’s lovely summer lodge at Skógar.
Apart from a relaxing week-end in the countryside we had planned to gather bramble-berries (known as Hrútaber in Icelandic) for a rather sour tasting berry jelly we adore (a bit similar to red currant jelly) and especially enjoy this time of the year!
For me, this exercise turned out to be a bit tough on my hip joints so while Haldóra ran up the mountain hills searching for berries, I decided to re-visit the Skógar open-air museum and the mighty Skógafoss (waterfall) . . . where, together with lots of tourists from around the world, I admired two of Iceland’s well known treasures as well as lots of sheep grazing in the fields . . . and from time to time checking us out too!
For those of you interested in the museum itself, I can tell you that the Skógar Museum is divided into three parts:
The folk museum is where you can see artifacts dating back to the Viking age including a large variety of tools and gear used for fishing and farming.
The open-air museum (my favorite part) with reconstructed turf houses is where you can catch a glimpse of times long gone and get an idea of how Icelanders lived through the centuries
The new museum of transport which also houses a souvenir shop and a cafeteria, tells the story of technology and transportation and its development in Iceland in the 19th and 20th century.
All the turf houses seen at Skógar came from different locations in this area and have been beautifully reconstructed. For example, the cruciform cowshed dates back to 1880, the store house from 1830, the living/sleeping area known as "baðstofa" in Icelandic dates back to 1895, the kitchen from 1880,
the pantry from 1850, the sitting room from 1896 and the bedroom from 1838. All of them are fully furnished, so people can better understand how some people used to live in those days.
Also, if you are interested in the Icelandic turf houses, an article by Karen Springer (CNN STYLE) might also be of interest. See link below: