Showing posts from July, 2022

Favourite Places – Hótel Búdir

  The Hótel Búdir is my favourite place in Iceland. It stands next to its black church alone, halfway along the south coast of Snaefellsnes. It is a spectacular location. To the north rises the wall of mountains that runs along the spine of the peninsula, spouting long white streams of waterfalls. To the east, a golden beach stretches for several kilometres along which horses gallop beside the blue waters of Faxaflói Bay. To the south, the Black Church perches on a low ridge. Looking to the west, you gaze over a treacherous lava field surrounding a raised crater, and beyond that the breathtaking Snaefellsjökull. The hotel bar is cosy, with a telescope to examine local eagles. The food is excellent - lamb, fish, seafood, samphire - and the dining room faces west towards the volcano. Sunset takes its time in Iceland, and you can spend the whole meal watching the light on Snaefellsjökull turn from yellow to pink to red, until finally, once the sun has disappeared benea


  The Icelandic countryside teems with folk stories. Every village or even farm has one, and they don’t just concern elves. We have heard about the trolls, but there are also sea monsters, seals, serpents, polar bears and sorcerers, as well as assorted goody-goody pastors and saints. There are also ghosts and ‘seers’. Most towns still have their seers, or fortune-tellers, and many people will explain that one of their extended family has the gift. The country is also teeming with ghosts.  In general, these are more benign than British ghosts. Like the hidden people, they will offer helpful advice rather than scare the living daylights out of you.  One Icelander told me how a relative was able to communicate with her dead grandmother, who occasionally warned her of impending disaster. This relative was reluctant to admit her ability to anyone; she wasn’t an attention-seeker, and it raised all kinds of problems. What should she do with the information her grandmother gave her? Wouldn’t p