A day spent exploring the beautiful Eyjafjörður Valley, south of Akureyri, can be surprisingly exhausting. And the locals seem to know it. Two farms on either side of the valley have expanded their normal operations to offer unique places to recuperate, and we took advantage of both.
The Holtssel Farm on the western side of the valley had no experience in the business of ice cream making, but decided on a whim to try it out. After purchasing equipment from a Dutch company, the farmer and his wife started producing fresh ice cream which immediately became a hit with Akureyrians. At first, there were no facilities at the farm and guests had to eat their ice cream outside, or in the barn when it was stormy.
Fast-forward a few years. There’s now a small parlor on-site, the Kaffi Karling, and the family has finessed its ice-cream-making prowess. Holtssel has become known for their strange flavors. Not rotten shark, thank god, but you can order licorice or beer ice cream, alongside classics such as vanilla or chocolate. And the flavors are strong; my beer-flavored scoop tasted like a lager left too long in the freezer. Which is to say, delicious.
Across the valley, we found another interesting place to take a rest: the Kaffi Kú. Here, a cafe with glass walls sits above a barn where about a hundred dairy cows are going about their business. Of course, “cow business” mostly consists of eating hay, but every so often one will queue up to wait her turn for the milking robot.
Cameras stream live footage from the milking robot into the cafe, and we sat at our table transfixed, completely forgetting to drink our coffee. Each cow decides for herself when it’s time to get milked and ambles over to the robot. She’ll walk herself in, and eat treats while a robotic arm extends between her legs. Using lasers and an internal database of detailed nipple-information, the arm detects the position of the udders and suctions itself on, one by one. Schluck, schluck, schluck, schluck.
It’s like something out of a sci-fi movie. We walked down into the barn to get a better look at the machine, and meet the cows. They seemed happy enough, and it was fun to scratch the heads of the little calves, but I was vaguely relieved to leave the barn. One day the Singularity will occur, and when the machines become self-aware, I don’t want to be around in case those nipple-sucking robots decide to turn on their masters.