Heimaey to Vik

Posted on January 18th, 2020 by

Hello and welcome to the blog!!

Due to weather concerns, it was decided to leave a day early from Heimaey to avoid possible cancellations of the ferry boat! Thus, today was an unscheduled travel day that was somehow still packed with free time, class discussion, and even a hike on a volcano!

Our Schedule

Breakfast (8:00am)

Paired walking tour of Heimaey (10:00am)

*Participation grades submitted*

Optional hike up the volcano (11:00am)

Class discussion (2:30pm)

Board the ferry (4:30pm)

Bus ride to hostel through the mountains (5:30pm)

Eat dinner in Vik (7:00pm)

Check-in to the hostel (8:30pm)

Homework and settling in for the rest of the night!


What we Learned

The paired walking tour gave us the chance to reflect on the daily journal prompt: compare the built and cultural environments of Heimay to the built and cultural parts of Reykjavik. My walking partner and I discussed the various ways that the town structure accommodates tourists, yet it still belongs to the residents (unlike Reykjavik which is built and taken over by tourists (some would say)). It is very much a residential town that is fueled by the income generated by the harbor from either two industries: fishing or tourists. One part of the town that we thought was especially interesting with regards to their possible values was that the cemetery was placed in the middle of town. Most cemeteries that we are used to are on the outskirts rather than the middle, so we thought that it signaled to the importance of preserving the familial ties and generations among the community members.

During our class discussion, we reviewed the main points from the book excerpt “Cooling the Lava” which highlighted the efforts taken to prevent lava flow from the 1973 volcanic eruption from closing off the one boat harbor in Heimaey, Iceland. Due to the fact that the fishing industry in Heimaey contributed to 12% of Iceland’s economy, it was vital to keep the harbor intact. Thorbjorn thought about the possibility of cooling the lava with water after watching the lava’s movements relative to high and low tide. In the end, his idea was implemented with pumping-and-cooling operation  and it successfully maintained (if not improved) the harbors entrance.

Regarding the residents on the island, the thoughts of volcanic eruptions had been planted ten years earlier when the nearby island Surtsey was created by an emerging eruption from the sea. It is said that they reacted relatively calmly and were able to effectively evacuate about 4,000 residents in three hours. Afterwards, one third of the past residents chose not to return to the island.

Connecting back to a major theme discussed in class, the landscape of Heimaey was acting like a character in how it manipulates and shapes the lives of those living there. What once was a beautiful view was now described as black and ugly (at least at first). What once was a perfect harbor for fishing was threatened by the physical landscape shifting and changing. Additionally, what once was a fishing town became a tourist attraction. Thus, this character named landscape was playing a role that may have been misinterpreted at first because it manipulated the starring roles (aka humans), but eventually the attention gained from playing this role led to the island’s profit.

Thanks for checking in- stay tuned for tomorrow’s update!



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