Approaching Patreksfjörður from the east, one gets the first view of the town from the pass that rises up from Breiðafjörður. Like many of the towns in the Westfjords, much of the town's industrial center lies on an eyri or small peninsula that juts out into the fjord. At certain times of day, the eyri at Patreksfjörður takes on a very distinctive quality of light, which distinguishes it from the rest of the town along the coast.
Home to about 800 residents, Patró (as it is often called in short) is the largest of the three towns in the southwest part of the Westfjords. It is home a pretty extensive variety of businesses and institutions. The main industry is the Oddí fish processing plant, which takes a large part of the main eyri. Across the way from that is a small eyri, more of a spit of land, along which are the baiting houses, where the fisherman bait their long lines.
In addition to the fishing industry, Patro has several things that are characteristics of a large town in the Westfjords, including a hospital, a regional development office, and a Menntaskólinn. Here too you will find the fish market of the Westfjords, a substantial grocery and spirits store, and so forth.
I first visited Patreksfjörður in the summer of 2008. I was on my way to visit the bird cliffs out at Látrabjarg, and managed to get a flat on the ferry across Breiðafjörður. (I´m not certain how that happened, but it was surprising to be paged about the tire in the middle of the fjord, to say the least.) Thinking it foolhardy to venture off to Látrabjarg without a spare, I stopped in town and got the tire fixed at the Michelin shop located out on the harbor. I found the town to be quite attractive and returned that evening to camp at the campground. While it is not especially developed, that camp spot offered my first experience of watching the light change over the town.
On my next trip through, in September, I visited the town´s development office and the Menntaskólinn. The Menntaskollinn is sort of the equivalent of the higher levels of high school in the US, and is what students attend if they would to attend the university or get a specialized degree. This school was rather new, only in its second or third year, and the students participate in quite a bit of televised or on-line instruction via a main school located to the south on Snaefellsness. As the main teacher explained to me, the presence of such school in the southern westfjords is quite important, and young adults typically had to leave home to attend menntaskólinn in the past. And occasionally families would relocate to make that possible (the result being a drop in population in the area).
Gusti and I returned to Patró in January, in part to get a better sense of the town and in part to interview Þröstur Reynisson. Perhaps what struck me most was that there seemed considerably more going on about town in January, which might be attributed to the fact that it was the high point of the fishing season, or in part attributed to the timing of our past visits. Our album has a pretty extensive collection of images of the town and the area around the harbor.