In a remote valley in Iceland a weird surprise
You don´t have to travel around Iceland for a long time before realizing that the more things change the more they stay the same. The landscape might differ mightily between counties here but the farms and the way of life stays more or less the same all over.
Very seldom does one happen upon something totally unique and almost out of place. Being out of place in Iceland is pretty tricky since the whole country is out of place so to speak.
But seeing the Skriduklaustur Cultural Center for the first time ticks the surprise box for most visitors for lots of reasons. Especially should you happen to arrive when the staff is mowing the roof.
Unless you know its there its location is pretty weird. Far away from any town deep in a long valley in the East of Iceland about 40 minutes drive from the Ring Road. This was originally a small catholic convent, the only such convent in the East of Iceland at the time.
Few centuries later, the famous local author, Gunnar Gunnarsson, made this his home and spent a fortune building the place you see today. Built in 1939 its size is pretty immense on the local scale and when built this was one of the largest buildings in the whole country. But while size matters it is the shape and type of material used for construction that makes all the difference.
This place is now part museum about the life of Gunnar Gunnarsson which apart from his novels is famous for being the only Icelander to meet Adolf Hitler, and partly a coffeeshop. And nicer coffeeshop you cannot find in Iceland when the weather is behaving. A small center about the Vatnajokull National Park is here also but the majestic Snaefell mountain towering over Skriduklaustur is the eastern end of that massive blanket of ice and snow.
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