Being part of Saltvík team – Annalena

This time our blog is written by one of our staff members of this summer. Read here how Annalena experienced working with us!

Goðan daginn!
This is Icelandic for good day! So hello and welcome. My name is Annalena and I was working here at Saltvík for almost 4 months during the summer 2022. During this time I gained so many memories and now I want to write some of them down. So I was thinking what should I write. Should I write about the job? Or the memories? So I didn’t start yet to write and I allowed myself to think about the question: What is Saltvík for me? What kind of feeling do I have when I think about it? So I decided to start at the moment I heard the name Saltvík for the first time.

Saltvík. What is this? The first time the name came up to my mind was when my mother told me, that we are going to ride there during our vacation. It was just one riding place of many in Iceland. I thought maybe it is nice but I thought it is just like every other place. Worth a try. But it is more than that.

Last year I came to this place with my family. I decided before that I wanted to work in Iceland and so I wrote an email to Mieke to get the chance to introduce myself. She said yes and so I met her after we arrived. She talked to me and the next day we went on our booked tour. I tried two horses and my guide was really friendly. So I was more than happy that I met her again when I worked there and I got an amazing friend! I knew during our vacation that this was the place I wanted to work. The landscape is amazing, the horses are in a really good shape, the people are all friendly. So I took my chance and applied! A few months later I got the mail. They accepted me and I was so happy!

Annalena together with Aude (her guide in 2021 and coworker in 2022)

End of April it was finally the date. I packed all my stuff and flew to Iceland. The first days after I arrived I was overwhelmed by all those impressions. I knew I was going to guide the tours but I didn’t really know what that means. The horses weren’t my problem. After a few days I knew them. I am honest. My problem were the people. I was a little bit unsure how I am supposed to deal with them.

But luckily everybody helped me so I found my role as a guide. I grew a lot. When I was in the beginning shy and not so much talkative, I am going now to the people and welcome them to Saltvík. After a while it felt normal. Going out, talking to people, riding with every kind of experience riders. It felt normal to be here.

But now I am just talking about the tours. But Saltvík is so much more. It is kind of home. I was welcomed as I am not a stranger. I found friends and kind of a family. I made memories I will never forget. 

When I am going to remember this time, I think the first thing in my mind are the people I was working with. Claire, Laura, Elena, Aude, Ali and Luca. These names are coming in my mind. People mostly from Germany and Austria but also from France and Denmark. People I wouldn’t have met usually. People who supported me. People who are worth to remember.

I think one of the first times we did something together, was when an Icelandic group booked everything. There were only the rentals to do and nothing else. So we took one evening a car and drove to the puffin cliffs. Sadly there weren’t Puffins, but we drove after that down to the beach. It was quite windy, so the waves were quite big and we ran close to them and then away when they broke at the beach. I remember Luca pushing me a little bit into the water so my feet were wet. But it doesn’t matter as long as you have fun. Yes, I think this was the first time we were out as a group. But it was not the last time. Since then we tried to do a lot together and with every adventure we got closer and closer.
at Saltvík beach

When I think longer about this time here in Saltvík, the adventures with only one or two more people are coming into my mind. Whale watching with Ali and Claire, visiting Mývatn with Claire and a guest, driving to Akurery with Luca. All these things are making every single day unique. All these little adventures made friends to family and this is what Saltvík is for me. A family in Iceland. A place I can visit as often as I want. A place where dreams come true.

And they are coming true. As a kid I wanted to ride with loose horses, I wanted to feel the wind in my hair when I am galloping along cliffs. As a kid I had a lot of dreams and many of them came true. Maybe Saltvík is still for many people a place during their vacation, just a stop before they go somewhere else. I can understand this but if you have the time to stay longer: Stay. Stay and discover the landscape around this farm. Drive to Dettifoss, Mývatn, Hverfjall, the hot springs and so many more spots! Take a break from the stress and learn a little bit the Icelandic way of life.

It was hard for me to learn this kind of life and the first time I heard “þetta reddast” I was confused. It means something like: In the end it will work out. And the Icelandic people are living this motto! As a German I am planning everything. I want to know what happens the next days. But one of the first things I learned was that you can never plan the next day when you are working for an Icelandic person! ^^ But it is not bad. I learned that. It is good for you because you are stopping to worry about tomorrow. You are starting to live today. You are starting to enjoy the moment and not thinking about the next thing.

The first times I got calls that were destroying my plans, I was annoyed and maybe a little bit mad. But I learned that changing plans is not bad. When you change something then it can be the best thing you did. I am glad that I learned that. To live in the moment and not in the future. Thank you for that!

Icelandic beautiful nature

Now, in the end I am fine with changing plans. I don’t care if I have a horse more or less on a tour. I am just enjoying what I am doing. And the guests are also helping with that. Every tour is different. You have different horses, different people, different weather. Nothing is the same every day. Maybe it is raining on one day but the guests are starting to cry because they love it so much. Then you forget the rain. But there are also not so nice tours. Then you come back, annoyed and maybe mad when you walked through the rain because the horses where really stupid. But in the end also this is an experience. I don’t want to experience it again but Ali was with me on that ride so we have on the other side a memory we share. Everything has two sides. It is your choice which one you choose.

on tour

And now I am thinking, what can I write next. Should I start with every adventure I had?  No, that would be too much. Then I won’t stop. But what should I write then? About all the riding tours where I learned a lot about other countries? About the people living there? About having the feeling to travel around the world when they are just talking about their homes? I don’t know. I think I can write something about every day and every day there would be a different thing in it. Loosing a shoe in the mud, catching horses in the mud with the wrong (nice) shoes, cleaning the stable, helping preparing a tour. There is a lot going on here. But also that would be way to much.

As a guest you can see only a little bit. You can see if the group of staff like each other. You can see if the horses are in a good shape. You can see if the rooms are clean. But you don’t see the team spirit during the day. When it is really stressful then we help each other. When someone is sick, then we cover for them. When someone is sad, we are there to support them. As a guest you don’t see it but you have a feeling.

Sometimes on a ride people were telling me that they were feeling, we are a great group. They were telling me, that sometimes this is the reason why they feel comfortable. And I think these are some of the moments when you realise why you are here. Something like that you don’t get when you are working in a big company. This friendship and this support is unique in small businesses. But you don’t feel like you are working in a business, because you know everyone and even your boss doesn’t act like one sometimes. You feel like you are part of it. Not working for it.

Of course I can write something like a blog, but I don’t think this is the spirit of Saltvík. I don’t think writing a blog like “I came, this happened, I stayed, this happened” is Saltvík. I think Saltvík is a place where every day is a new adventure with people you like. I think Saltvík is special for me because of the feeling not knowing what is coming next. Of course there is something like a plan, but a plan can change and you shouldn’t say “no” when there is an opportunity because you don’t know what you can miss.

But when I am coming now to something like a conclusion, I think that this place is a place I will never forget. I know, I need to leave, I have a life in Germany too but I also know whenever I need a break, this place is open for me. So I will go back to Germany, I will say goodbye for now but no one can take the memories away from me. Now Saltvík is more than a place on my vacation. Now Saltvík is a place I want to visit year after year and I want to create new memories with new people.

Hafragilsfoss, close to Dettifoss

When I came I thought 4 months is a long time but now they are almost over and they flew away. But the 4 months are full of memories like the Hafragilsfoss, which we call Hagnaðurfoss. Hagnaður is a horse and the favourite of Claire. She wasn’t able to spell it, so she called it that way. These are things you will never forget and when I see her again and I am going to say Hagnaðurfoss, she knows exactly what I am talking about. Maybe the time is gone, but the memories are staying.

Maybe you are going to say, this text is just for publicity because it doesn’t sound “real” but no it isn’t. This text is what I think Saltvík is. And if it sounds like a dream, like unreal, then just come here. Maybe it is also a dream for you to join a ride with us. Or maybe it is just a farm like many else. That is also fine. But for me it is kind of home. I am working here for so long and yes, it is like a dream for me because I wanted to work in Iceland since I was travelling to Iceland the first time and my dream came true. I came and I don’t regret it.

My time is over for this year but I will come again and again and again. I will never forget this place.


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