The oldest trading village in Iceland is a place called Ólafsvík. A few hours north of Reykjavik, it sits near the end of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, a long, westward-reaching arm of mountainsides, ruffled grasses, and folklore. Jules Verne chose the Snæfellsjökull, a glacier sitting on a volcano that overlooks the cliffs and the sea, to be the starting point for A Journey to the Centre of the Earth. In 1810, a Scottish mineralogist named George Mackenzie astonished the locals by climbing it in a day.
Mackenzie spent the rest of his time in Ólafsvík observing its chief activity, fishing. It…
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