Til baka

From Istanbul to Akureyri

Hazal Elif Yalvaç by Akureyri Geothermal Pool
Hazal Elif Yalvaç by Akureyri Geothermal Pool

Hazal Elif Yalvaç (30) lost her father when she was 24 years old. He had inspired her to travel around the world and she came to Akureyri wearing his green and white sweater. “I'm still grieving and missing him a lot. He was a great friend to me. This sweater was knit by my mother who is alive and very important to me too. My father was wearing it during the 80s. Last time I visited my parents' place in Tekirdağ, west of Istanbul, I found this jumper and decided to take it with me for my 6th travel to Iceland. It keeps me warm and in some ways, it means that my father travels here with me too,“ says Hazal in a short interview with Visitakureyri.is.

Her father had never been to Iceland but his job as a metallurgy and materials engineer took him to several countries for visits to the aluminium factories, also those in Scandinavia. He loved Norway and Russia a lot. His travel experiences inspired Hazal to travel too and her father was always supportive for those travels. „In a nutshell, I made sure to take this very special jumper with me to this very special place here up north and had an inner dialogue with my child self as I was sitting in a bar in Akureyri, watching the amazing view, with tears in my eyes thinking of my father, Hazal says.

Hazal lives in Istanbul in Turkey where she is a musician and translator. She composes electronic music and plays guitars. As a child Elif's father introduced her and her sister to a lot of books. From their home they had the view to the mountains in the farther part of the city and when she read in the Encyclopaedia Britannica about Iceland and this little town Akureyri, close to the Arctic Circle, she was amazed by the fact that people were living so far north and by the  mountains that looked a bit similar to her own mountains and started dreaming of getting there one day.

When Hazal grew older she found out it was a bit complicated to travel to Akureyri as there were no direct flights and she needed a visa and she did not know anyone who had the same passion. Finally though she did take the step and has now visited Iceland 6 times on her own, also with the support of her musical efforts and several performances in Iceland, as well as the support of locals she met on her way. She enjoys Akureyri, finds it cozy and vibrant even though it is small with barely 19 thousand inhabitants. Hazal also likes the climate. In Turkey the temperatures get very high especially during summer, then it’s inspiring to go somewhere you can experience fresh breeze, less populated areas and seek remoteness. She appreciates access to this remote land since Akureyri also has given her chance to explore solitude in an amazing landscape.

“I really like the coffee shop culture in town & even though it is perhaps cold and dark outside, inside it’s so cozy. Here you find supermarkets that are open 24 hours and people are less hassled here, less stressed. The geothermal pool in town is so great, with locals from all ages, and after a long day it’s great to be able to go on a happy hour which is by the way much cheaper in Akureyri than in Reykjavík in the south of Iceland, especially for someone like me who really loves the Icelandic Pale Ales.”

The sounds in the city has also inspired her significantly. As a musician that always carries a field recorder with her to capture the sounds of the places she visited, she recorded the waterfall sounds close to the Akureyri region, including Dettifoss, and the powerful lava sounds at Krafla lava fields, as well as the local sounds in Akureyri. The sounds and her experiences in Iceland inspired her to compose music which is very much about Iceland and to record her third album she is preparing to release with the title Mountains Become Stepping Stones.

Elif hopes to be able to make more visits to the north. This time in Akureyri she was able to experience two things that were on her bucket-list, the Lenticularis clouds and Northern lights, but she still has some uncompleted tasks which include, visiting the Grímsey island on the Arctic Circle, the beer bath by Akureyri, a natural hot spring, and to see whales. She also wants to spend more time at the Cultural house Hof to explore the concerts and works of the musicians studying at the academy there.

Visitakureyri.com thanks Hazal Elif Yalvaç for the nice talk and hopes to see her again soon in Akureyri.


If you would like to share your story with our readers, please send us a photo of you in Akureyri and a few sentences about your experience. Did you enjoy our beautiful little town? Our email is akureyrarstofa@akureyri.is.