I recently read that the swarming crowds of tourists are changing the Icelandic experience in summertime. Frankly, I prefer November.

In November, you’ll have a good chance of seeing some Northern Lights action that is not seen in summer. And while I do love a good Aurora sight, what I value these days in Iceland is the rare type of solitary winter beauty. The raw nature of Iceland in November stirs something deeper inside. That’s what keeps me coming back. The more I travel to Iceland, the more I travel off the slightly beaten track. However you can visit this gem that’s easy to incorporate even during a short visit. Oh and yes, you’ll need to rent a car.

Selatangar. Is this large old fishing station on the ocean coast haunted? Selatangar was in active use during the fishing season from the Middle Ages until the 1880s when it was abandoned because the shoreline changed making boat landings more difficult; plus the advent of large-scale commercial fishing started to take over the market. The bounty was ling, cod and stockfish. Since salt wasn’t produced in Iceland back then, fish were wind-dried in the winter and spring — which was also the fishing season. These Icelandic fisherman were also farmers, thus the time at Selatangar did not take away from the labors needed on the farmland. At the end of season the fish could either be brought home or kept at the fishing stations to be taken to trade. I imagine it could be a contentious environment when it came to finding good fishing spots. Not to mention dangerous in the rough Atlantic where the weather can change in minutes and down your boat.

The ghost that haunts these lava rock huts has a name: Tanga-Tómas, and rumor has it that he harassed the fisherman-farmers during the waning years of the village. And perhaps still does. In the autumn, the misty atmosphere certainly reinforces the myth of Tanga-Tómas and you may find yourself wondering if he’s still around. Once at the village, taking an hour is about right. As you wander, imagine what life must have been like to sleep in the huts with the smell of fish wind-drying in nearby shelters and the sound of pounding waves. Standing a top a mound of lava looking out to sea, imagine rowing a fishing boat safely onto a black sand beach.

After inhaling the sea salt air and taking in the ruthless conditions, walk back to your car knowing you have had a glimpse into the past.

Directions: From Grindavik, take the 427 toward Selfoss. Look for a small dirt road with a small sign on the right side of road for Selatangar. Turn right and drive slowly as you check out the amazing lava formations along the way. After about 10 to 15 minutes, you’ll see a flat area where cars can park near a sign. You’ll then have to walk for another 10 to 15 minutes to the old fishing village. Be careful. Lava is not a stable material.



Categories: Places

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