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Iceland & Greenland Adventures - Part I

Author: Linda V. (More Trip Reviews by Linda V.)
Date of Trip: July 2005



Darlene and I both woke up at 1AM. I was convinced it was at least 5AM. Two hours of sleep and I was ready to go. The revelers were down on the street partying and making noise. We had to close the rest of our windows. I was in the bedroom part of our apartment, and it wasn't too light/bright. I turned over and slept until 7AM.

Took my shower. Hmm...the water gives off a faint sulphury smell. Yumm! We went out to try to find breakfast. The bagel shop wasn't open at 8AM (or even at 10:00 when I checked back). Darlene grabbed a ham and cheese croissant and coffee (for over $10). I got a chocolate croissant for 160 ISK ($2.75).

We waited for Nina and Renee to arrive. We expected them between 8 and 8:30. Hmmm...at 9:00 we went downstairs looking for Nina and our tour company, Ishestar, for our horseback riding excursion. At 9:20 we went into a local tour office and cancelled the excursion. I know Nina really wanted to do it. We asked for other suggestions at the tour office, but we were limited on time since we must get on the boat at 4:00. We considered a puffin island trip, but we'll be on a boat the next 12 days. What to do, what to do...

Nina and Renee arrived at 10:30. Their flight was delayed, and they missed the first FlyBus. They had to wait another hour for the 2nd bus which was also waiting for passengers on other delayed flights. Arni called and told me, "Your friends are downstairs." Oh my gosh! Renee had 2 full-size suitcases, a rolling backpack, and a large camera bag around her waist. Amazing she could drag all that stuff with her.

We visited and then decided we should check out of the hotel and take our luggage to the ship. When I asked Arni if he had any tour suggestions since we missed our horseback riding trip, he immediately made a phone call for us. We were on a trip to a small farm - Laxnes - for riding. They would pick us up at Room With a View at 1:00 and take our luggage with us AND drop us at 4:00 at the ship. Woo hoo! It's about a 10 block walk pulling luggage over uneven pavement. Thanks Arni!

We had an hour, so we grabbed lunch at Taco Mama. I enjoyed 2 crispy beef tacos, fries and a diet coke for 695 ISK (around $11). We ran into Steve from our Antarctica trip. He was here on his own for our cruise. Dashed into the 10/11 for diet coke and headed back to Arni's. We retrieved our massive amount of luggage and waited to be picked up. The guy came around 1:05, and we picked up 3 other passengers. Laxnes was located about 15 minutes from Reykjavik. What a beautiful setting. There were yellow, purple, and white wildflowers in the lava fields and mountains in the distance.

We got situated with our riding helmets and were assigned horses. The guide asked if I wanted one with spirit. I said no, but got one with spirit anyway. The horses are so cute. They are smaller than those I've been on before and have beautiful long manes. They are great tempered and love to be near each other. My horse had a thing about being in the lead. If another horse attempted to pass him, he'd speed it up. The guide told me a number of times to "pull back." We crossed through meadows, fields, and streams. There was even a 9-hole golf course adjacent to us. My horse liked to trot, so I bounced around a lot. The saddles were English saddles rather than western, and I didn't have a horn thing to hold onto. I had to tuck one hand under the front of the saddle and hold the reins with my other hand so I would feel stable. What a nice trip. My legs are sore!

We got to our ship only 15 minutes late. Perfect. Once we boarded, we discovered that we were waiting for other passengers and didn't have to be back on the ship until 6:15. Nina and I are in cabin 312. Darlene is next door with Mary Jane (MJ) from Canada. Renee is across the hall with her roommate, Angelika, also from Canada. I recognized Angelika from our Antarctica trip. This cabin is so much smaller than the Orlova. Thank goodness Renee got another room. With all our suitcases, it would have been crazy! We are using the top bunk to store more of our stuff. There are only about 80 passengers on the ship (including expedition staff) -- 11 Americans, 11 Canadians, 40+ British, a few from South Africa, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Denmark. The British folks booked the trip from Noble Caledonia in England. Most of them are senior citizens. It brings the average age on the ship to 55. Several of the expedition staff brought their children with them on this trip. We've got quite the variety.

We had a briefing at 6:15PM where we were introduced to the expedition staff and GAP personnel. The expedition leader seems really nice. Not stern like Susan from the Orlova. We had to do our little safety drill and put on our beautiful orange life jackets and go to our muster station. Fun stuff. As we headed off for dinner we heard there were puffins on the starboard side. It took awhile, but we saw them... from a distance. They fly so goofy. They were compared to bumble bees. The have a kind of awkward fluttering of their wings. About a week before our trip, I received an e-mail from GAP telling us that the ice is heavier than it has been in the past 25 years and that we may not be able to get to Scoresby Sound. We'll wait and see.

Dinner was good - a salad, tomato soup, steak, taters, carrots & peas, and ice cream with whipped cream and fresh fruit. We sat with the family from Wisconsin and closed down the dining room. This trip is a high school graduation gift to their son, Paul. How nice!

Visited with Darlene and Angelika till almost midnight. I went out to try and get a sunset shot, but no. They sky was still pretty bright, and the clouds and fog were obscuring the horizon. Bummer!

I expected to see more passengers on the ship from our Antarctica cruise. Besides Nina, Renee and me, there are Angelika, Steve, Brad and Margaret from Canada, Ernst from Switzerland, and Ernie with GAP.

The expedition staff includes:

Kim Crosbie, Expedition Leader - Scotland

Morten Jorgenson, naturalist - Denmark

Roger Lovegrove and wife, ornithologist - England

Sabeana and her son, GAP - Canada

Jacky Booth and 12 year old daughter Clea, oceanography lecturer - Salt Spring Island, British Columbia



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