Beautiful, Historic Siglo
What a glorious day this was. We were so fortunate the wind died down, sun came out and the temps rose to the upper 40s. In the morning we let the chill warm up with a visit to the award-winning Herring Museum. The museum occupies three buildings and is very interesting – I had no idea about the history or the products produced (fish, oil, and fish-meal) until today.
Siglo, once known as the “herring capital” was the center of this fishing enterprise and had a significant role in the economy and development of Iceland. Ultimately, contributing in a major way to Iceland becoming independent from Denmark. Like towns in the days of the American Gold Rush, it was a booming, happening place to seek work and good fortune. The industry survived a major avalanche and fire that destroyed two factories, yet continued to thrive for decades. But herring are a migratory fish – and migrate they did. By the mid-1960s the fish were gone and so was most of the population. Since then, the town has reinvented itself as a tourism destination, with heliskiing during winter months and visitors like us in the summer.
We wandered around the sleepy little town with its brightly painted assortment of 1930s vintage buildings. Many storefronts were empty, likely due to the pandemic’s impact on tourism, and others were closed on Saturdays. A crowded bakery caught our attention and served as a sweet spot for a casual, yummy lunch.
Now we needed to walk off a few of the calories consumed with our lunch, so we headed out for a short drive to a nearby forest. You don’t see trees in Iceland thanks to aggressive cutting and burning of timber by early Viking settlers 1,000 years ago. Finding even a small forest was a bonus. We knew the Leyningsfoss Waterfall could be viewed from a forest trail, and after getting some slightly vague instructions, we headed out to find it.
The forest also bordered the area’s 9-hole golf course. Originally, we had scheduled a round for today, but the course decided not to open yet (we heard the weather had been colder, later than usual). We still wanted to check it out on our way to our hunt for the falls.
A fairly steep and slippery hike took us up to a beautiful vista of falls across the valley and eventually got us to a very peaceful setting (with a bench!) where we could see Leyningsfoss and savor the crisp, beautiful afternoon surrounded by pine trees, listening to the roar of the falls and chirping of the birds.
Eventually we forced ourselves up, finished our walk in the woods, and drove back to town in search of gas to be ready for the next day. We have had some adventures getting gas. You really do have to use a card with a pin number, and we were prepared for that, but only our credit card (with pin) works, not the more cost-efficient debit card. The whole system is tricky, stations are quite dispersed, and sometimes not all the pumps work. Our car is a hybrid, but we have not yet figured out where it could be charged.
The Siglo Hotel is a lovely place to stay and our views can’t be beat. Finished off the day on-site with a visit to the bar and a lovely dinner. A lot of folks can be seen heading outdoors to the hot pools and then sitting around in swimsuits . . . not for this Miami girl! I’m content to lounge in our room’s window seat and just stare at the view.