Category Archives: Iceland

Flatey Island, Iceland on the Unesco World Heritage Site tentative list

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This is our first morning in Iceland.  The first morning of our two-week Iceland tour.  We have already tasted the beauty of Iceland on our first day after our flight.  After our Icelandic breakfast  at our guest house with a few other guests from Australia, we drive back to the Stykkisholmur port.  This time we are taking the car ferry to see Flatey Island, which is listed in the Unesco World Heritage Site Tentative List .   

Flatey Island- very few houses some only used for summer

Flatey Island- very few houses some only used for summer

Flatey island is the only occupied island in Breidafjordur Bay.  The name literally means “flat island” in Icelandic. It is about 2 kilometers long and about one kilometer wide, with a highest point reaching 16 meters above sea level.  Since the 1700s, Flatey was an important trading center.  Iceland’s first library was built here in 1864.  However, after losing its post as a trading center, the population dwindled down.  It is pretty busy during the summer months.  In winter, there are only five people that live on the island.

Baldur Ferry - Stykkisholmer to Flatey and to Breioaffjordur

Baldur Ferry – Stykkisholmer to Flatey and to Breioaffjordur

Cars are not allowed there.  The only way to reach the island is by Ferry Baldur, a car ferry operating between Stykkisholmur on the Snaefellsnes peninsula and Brjanslaekur in the north, crossing the Breidafjordur Bay with a stopover at Flatey Island.

We later learn that we could have our car transported to Breidafjordur port while we take off at Flatey island, and we could have taken the next ferry to the north area which we heard is beautiful.  Well, there is always next time, right!  During this trip, we wrongly decided not to take a day trip to Greenland, which was quite expensive.  But, now, we miss the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit this unique land above the Arctic Circle. So, there has to be a next time.

We arrive at Flatey after a nice ferry ride. The people on the ferry are more locals than the tourists.  It gives us a good feeling that we are blending in. 

Icelandic dad and daughter on Baldur Ferry to Flatey Island

Icelandic dad and daughter on Baldur Ferry to Flatey Island

There is only one street that starts from the ferry dock to the center of the village which consists of a few buildings.  There is only one coffee shop and one hotel, aptly named Hotel Flatey where we eat our delicious lunch.  The hotel is in two beautifully renovated houses with a good size dining room.  We take a small wooden table by the windows. The light is softly entering from the intricacies of lace curtains while we sip our wine. We order mushroom soup and fish. The best mushroom soup I have had in years. 

Houses and Hotel Flatey in Flatey, Iceland

Houses and Hotel Flatey in Flatey, Iceland

Hotel Flatey - dining room

Hotel Flatey – dining room

After our lunch, we continue strolling on the only street.  We pass beautiful homes, all freshly painted.  Since it is summer, all of them are occupied.  We enjoy the windows beautifully decorated with lace curtains and cute objects.

Window decorations- Flatey Island

Window decorations- Flatey Island

Fish drying racks - Flatey Island, Iceland

Fish drying racks – Flatey Island, Iceland

We walk towards a small church, the only church in Flatey (built in 1926).  The church’s interior is painted by Baltasar Samper (father of a famous actor, director Baltasar Samper in the 1960s.  The church has the oldest and the smallest library in Iceland, and used to be the home of the Flateyjarbók (means Flat Island Book in Icelandic) .  It is the largest of medieval Icelandic manuscripts, containing the sagas of the Norse Kings.

Green fields and Flatey Church

Green fields and Flatey Church

Only church in Flatey

Only church in Flatey

Flatey church paintings -left wall

Flatey church paintings by Baltasar  Samper -left wall

Flatey church paintings by Baltasar  Samper -right wall

Flatey church paintings by Baltasar Samper -right wall

There are plenty of sheep happily grazing on the greenest of the grasses.  One even turned his back at me, asking me not to bother him. 

A view of a Sheep's behind - Flatey Island

A view of a Sheep’s behind – Flatey Island

We leisurely walk back.  There is a steady breeze drying the clothes on the clothes lines.  Someone put several large purple sea urchins in a container and was letting them dry.  I thought about taking one.  The purple color is so beautiful.  But, I decide to be a good person.

Clothes drying - Flatey Island

Clothes drying – Flatey Island

Purple sea urchins,, Flatey Island, Iceland

Purple sea urchins,, Flatey Island, Iceland

The ferry is already docked.  We board the ferry with a few tourists and return to Stykkisholmur.

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