Sunday, July 27, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014 – Seydisfjordur, Iceland – Cloudy - 55F

Distance from Klaksvik, Faroe Islands to Seydisfjordur, Iceland: 300 Nautical Miles

Our first stop in Iceland is on the east coast.  The weather is not cooperating – intermittent drizzle and rain.

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Port Information.  Seydisfjordur, Iceland (founded around 1848 by Norwegian fisherman) has only about 700 inhabitants.  The tours will take passengers to several of the surrounding towns, which are reached by crossing the mountain range.

We are both on tour today - "Scenic drive, museums and Helgustadur mine" with lunch included.  When I boarded the bus, I asked the local tour rep about needing a vegetarian option and he said it shouldn’t be problem. 

 20140711_leaving Seydisfjordur (Small) 20140711_ leaving Seydisfjordur 1 (Small)

Leaving Seydisfjordur

The guide, who name I can’t remember (and who really appeared to be calling this one in), told us that every little town has its own golf course.  The one below belongs to Seydisfjordur.  The golf season must be really short here but where else can you get a tee time of 3:30 AM and play until almost midnight.

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Golf Course

This part of Iceland is all about snowy peaks, rivers, and especially waterfalls – too numerous to count – big and little waterfalls and all sizes in between.

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20140711_snowy peaks (Small)

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Our bus wound it way up a mountain pass – at the crest, there was a lot of snow and numerous ice floes.

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Ice Floes at the Summit

Our route took us to a view point where we could see the town of Eskifjordur.

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Ellen’s bus had just left the viewpoint and I was able to get a picture of her bus as it made its way back down the mountain.

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Ellen’s Bus headed down the hill

At the bottom of the mountain, the guide pointed out that there are very few trees in Iceland and that some trees have been brought to Iceland from other countries – the trees below have come from Siberia.

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The other import along the way were a set of houses brought in from Canada.

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Imported Canadian Homes

Our next stop was the town of Eskifjordur and our first destination, the East Iceland Maritime Museum – a small dark building in town.  The museum did have some maritime items but it also had quite a bit of tools and weapons – e.g. vintage rifles.  I was most fascinated by the harpoon gun, which was in such good shape that it looked like it could be used today.

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Harpoon Gun

By now, it was raining pretty hard.  Our next stop was a private home, where a woman and her husband has amassed a rock collection over the past 25 years.  The entire lower level of her home had been converted to a rock museum.

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Rock Collector’s Home

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Some of the Vast Rock Collection

After the rock museum, the bus made what I thought was an unscheduled stop at an ATM.  The bank was closed but some people picked up a few ISK (Krona).  In fact, the whole town looked deserted. 

The next stop was the Helgustadur Mine (this mine produced Icelandic Spar, a glass like form of calcium carbonate, used in polarizing microscopes) but it was raining so hard that passengers opted not to take the 300 meter hike up the muddy mountain to see the entrance to the mine.  Instead, we headed back toward the city.  On the way, we stopped at a small red wooden shack.  This is where the shark is fermented and dried to make the Icelandic delicacy, Hakarl.  Some of the passengers went out to give a sniff (the shark meat is hanging there exposed to the ambient air).

 20140711_fjord coast near mine shark shack (Small)

Fjord side at the Shark Shack

We were early for lunch so we killed a little time by visiting a church.  I didn’t go in but, instead, got a nice shot of a waterfall behind the church.

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Church Waterfall

We also crossed over the fjord to the other side and saw a golf course

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and the Alcoa Aluminum Smelting Plant.  The bauxite is brought to Iceland and, because processing is electricity heavy (and Iceland has loads of geothermal electricity), the metal is smelted here. 

The bus then headed for our lunch venue, Randulff’s Sea House.

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The place looked like a shack from the outside, similar to the red shack one could see from the entrance to the restaurant.  Inside, it was a little dark but very regional.  Originally, it was a boat house, where fish was processed.

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View from Randulff’s

Before sitting down, we were given a little explanation about the appetizers (fermented shark – Hakarl - and dried cod and haddock).  Hakarl is shark that is cut up and buried for 4-6 weeks (to leach toxins from the meat) and then hung up to cure for several months.  Real Viking food…

I opted not to try either since we had a lot of cruise yet to go.  I did, however, try the schnapps, which had a hint of anise in it…it was pretty good.

20140711_Randulffs Restaurant (Small)  

Appetizers Explained

 20140711_ Randulffs Restaurant 1 (Small)

Restaurant Interior

We all sat down cafeteria style.  The regular meal on the menu was pureed vegetable soup, Icelandic lamb and potatoes.  Coffee followed the meal and there was no dessert.  I had the veggie option – pureed vegetable soup plus a plate composed of barley, carrots, and potatoes in a sauce.  The meal was very good especially the soup.  The passengers had only good things to say about their meal.

Our next stop was the “Wartime Museum” located in the village of Reydarfjordur.  Iceland was occupied by both Britain and the US during the war to protect Allied interests in the North Atlantic.  This museum describes the activities and conditions associated with that period.

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 Pilot with and without Ellen

 20140711_ET wartime museum (Small)

Ellen and a typical woman of the time

 20140711_ river Wartime Museum Reydarfjordur (Small)

River behind the Museum

Our route back to pier was the same as the one that took us here.  Great scenery – more waterfalls and more ice floes.

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Sites along the Return Trip

Returning to the port, I was able to get a nice picture of the Ocean Princess docked. 

20140711_Ocean Princess docked (Small) 

Soon we were back at the pier after a long and soggy day.  I knew we were running late according to the schedule and that we had also passed the “All Aboard” time.  The guide said they wouldn’t leave without us.  As it turned out, Ellen and I were the last people on board before they pulled in the gangway.  That would be a first for us and something that should never happen since we are always on ship tours.

After dinner, we caught the early show – Paul Baker was the headliner tonight.  He’s a West End performer that we have seen before.  He won an “Ollie” for his performance in “Taboo”.  He put on a terrific show and he also told us that he was going to star as Anthony Newley in the new musical, “Newley?” opening in the West End next year.

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Paul Baker performing

We had a lot of the evening ahead.  I started “Dead Guilty”, another novel by Beverly Connor.  I gave up on the last Connor novel I started and I’m hoping that this one is a keeper.

Our tour of Iceland continues tomorrow…

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