Coming to Iceland

I’ve been in Iceland now for two weeks. Living in the remote area, surrounded by mountains and having snowed in so that the roads are closed and flights from and to Isafjördur get cancelled you feel a bit like hermit far from civilised world. But this little fishing town has a lot to offer. Two weeks has gone really fast although I have been mainly in the Fab Lab during this time.

Getting here was for the most part uneventful thanks to rigorous planning which went into the travel schedule. I booked everything in advance and double checked everything. So I was pretty confident that my traveling to Isafjördur would go without a hitch. I was warned though that can be tricky time to travel due to bad weather. And there were possibility on the morning of my departure that the bad weather might get in the way of me leaving even Finland.

Sixteenth of February my flight left from Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. On that morning I hopped on the bus in Turku to the airport. The airport area has changed a lot since I saw it the last time few years ago. There is so much construction going on. My flight was on time and the weather was fine. Budget flights seem to have a really tight seating. I was almost claustrophobic in my window seat. Also having seated near the wing and roaring engine wasn’t such a good idea. Next time I’ll take seat from the front of the plane.

Reykjavik’s Airport in Keflavik is quite different. It’s smaller and basically in the middle of nowhere. But then you see the mountains in the distance of which you had a glimpse on a plain. From Keflavik to Reykjavik is about 45 minutes ride on a bus. I was out of the airport building on a bus to Reykjavik in under 30 minutes. The drive to the city is something else. You see this volcanic looking earth and the mountains in the distance. It’s like you are on a different planet.

Best way get to Isafjördur from Reykjavik is by plane. Domestic flights leave from the city all over Iceland. To Isafjördur the flight takes about 45 minutes. The funny thing is that by the time my flight was about to land to Keflavik, the last flight to Isafjördur had already gone. So I was going to spend a night in Reykjavik. The one I chose was quite cheap room in a cosy hostel near the bus station only a short walk away.

In the next morning I got an email that my fight from Reykjavik to Isafjördur had been delayed until further notice due to bad weather. I was promised an update in a few hours so I went back to the bus station, left my bags in the storage there and bought me a ticket to sight seeing tour on a double decker bus. So my experience so far from Reykjavik has happened while riding on a bus. Tour took more than an hour to complete. I saw some interesting architecture but most impressive thing for me were the sea and the mountains. During the tour I got a message that the flight is on and I could go to the domestic airport for a check-in. I hopped of the tour bus back at the bus station and took a taxi to the airport. For domestic flights planes used are small propeller planes but there were much more room sit so I liked much better. Funny thing was that when the plane hit some turbulence all the kids on the plane were laughing and cheering like they were on a roller coaster in an amusement park.

After landing I got nice surprise. I wondered how would I get to the #FabLabIsa but the labs manager, Þórarinn B.B. Gunnarsson was already waiting for me there. It would have been a long walk and I haven’t seen any taxis while I’ve been here and very few buses. You either have a car here or you don’t. Originally I thought about getting a rental car from Reykjavik and drive to Isafjördur but it would’ve taken six hours and the roads leading here might have been closed on some parts so I dismissed that idea. I do plan renting or loaning a car while I’m here so I get to see more of the Westfjörds. I would love to have a chance take a trip around the ring road but only time will tell if I have time for it.

The Fab Lab Isafjördur functions under Menntaskólinn á Ísafirði (gymnasium). Next to them is Hotel Edda, which during winter is a dorm for people who go to the school here. This is where I live. I have a room of my own and I get a meals from the school. And living here doesn’t break the bank. I see mountains from my window and there ravens flying by. There are a lot of ravens here. Never seen so many at the same time.

These two weeks have gone by fast. I’ve been taking it all in getting to know the ropes, the people and places. First week I was using the labs laser and trying to help others to use it, who might need help with the machine. Second week there were two other interns in the lab so the week was quite hectic. 3D printing has had a lot of focus lately. I’ve learned new tricks and there are tons to learn more. I hope I have enough time for them and the other stuff I’ve been planning to do. But more of that and of my other escapades in Icelands comes shortly