My obsession for libraries, preferably, beautiful
and obscure libraries, is well-documented on this blog. Readers should not find
it surprising that I’ve made travel arrangements to fairly remote parts of the
earth for the explicit purpose of visiting a library.
But what might shock some, and what certainly still
shocks me, is that I planned an entire trip after looking at one photograph.
That is the power of a single image. It can move a
person miles around the world, put her on a terrifyingly shaky flight, and get
her snowed in three days in a remote town.
I must have gazed at it a hundred times. Wishing and
dreaming to go to the beautiful place where
that library is. Wish to be there to take replicate that same photo, and to
experience that place. No substitute would do. It had to be that library, no
matter remote. It had to be in the winter with the snow, no matter how many
flights get cancelled and delayed. I had to have that dream.
Culture House Eyrartuni is not well-documented. It is so obscure
that it is not even mentioned on trip advisor as an attraction of any kind.
There are few photos of it. It is not mentioned on any blogs, even from
tourists who have been to or been through Isafjordur.
For no other reason but to experience this place, I
began looking up plane tickets to Isafjordur. The problem was, dometic tickets
to Isafjordur were very expensive, almost unreasonably so. For a few months, I
gave up my dream. But when I was two weeks away from departing to Reykjavik, I
checked ticket prices again, and they had been reduced to a third! I snatched them
right up, thinking I would only be in Isafjordur for one night at most. Funny
how that turned out….
Now, this trip was risky for many reasons. Iceland
is known for its unpredictable winter weather and flights are frequently
delayed and cancelled. Also, I was planning to go with no luggage on me, just a
day pack and a toothbrush. The website was minimal, and I didn’t even know if
it would be open, though they said “daily from 1:00-5:00.” Even if I made it
there and it was open, because the weather is such a gamble, I had no guarantee
that I would see Isafjordur in my winter wonderland. It may be rainy. It may be
so blizzard that I can’t take pictures. There were a number of things that
could go wrong.
Thankfully, everything turned out perfectly. Well, at least, where
House Eyrartuni is
We arrived in the midst of a blizzard, by I hastily snapped some photos
during a calm in the storm, I didn’t yet realize that more of the mountain
would be visible one the clouds had cleared.
We arrived at 10:30am and had a fantastic lunch
down the street from the library, then walked up to it at 1:00pm, right when it
opened. I was pleasantly surprised to see a wonderful collection of books on the first
floor and spent much time exploring the layout and seating options. I was also
surprised how many books have been translated into Icelandic.
On the second floor there is even more open space
and seating. There were a fair amount of meeting rooms and group-working
spaces. The view and natural light was also much better from the second floor.
On the third floor was, curiously, administrative
office and a historical exhibit of some sort. Apparently this building used to
be a hospital and many cultural artifacts remain. Read a little more here and here.
My favorite piece was the wolf-doctor painting,
followed closely by the creepy dolls.
Later that day I was able to photograph the library
again, after the fog cleared, and was able to get that perfect shot.
So, long story short, besides my near-perfect
experience at the library, our flight was predictably cancelled and my one-day
trip to Isafjordur turned into a three-day trip, in which I only had my
toothbrush and the clothes I was wearing. So the library became my source of
pleasure, and of mental breakdown as I was on the phone with Air Iceland trying
to book transport out of the town. But was it worth it?