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Iceland & Greenland Adventures - Part I

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



Nina, Darlene and I hung out in the lounge. Heck - it was cookie time. I showed them a few of my photos in the camera. Clea showed me how to use the digital zoom, so I doomed into a photo of the ship doctor during his Arctic swim. Nice torso! We cracked up and couldn't stop laughing. Some old biddies exclaimed, "We've had just about enough already. Just shut it up." I guess they don't appreciate us having a good time. Go to your cabins!

At 5PM we caught Jacky's session on the history of oceanography. The room was pretty empty - lots of seasick passengers. I nodded in and out, but she shared a timeline on oceanography going back to BC. At 7PM we had a gumshoe dance demo where Jacky, Heidi and Steven demonstrated three different dances as they jumped around slapping their wellies (rubber boots). Too funny.

Spent time getting fresh air, and so far so good. Dinner was also pretty empty. John Jessie from Florida sat with us (Nina went to bed to avoid getting sick). He commented that Nina sure seems to have a great time all the time. She also gets those around her to have a good time. What a nice compliment, and so true. Jacky ate with us also; Clea tried but had to go to bed to deal with her seasickness. At 9:00, Scooby shared some stories of his time in the British Antarctic Survey.

Now that I'm in the lounge, there are only 4 passengers in here and a couple crew/GAP members. What a difference from last night - the room was packed and full of energy. I'm going to attempt to stay up and see if the sky turns into a beautiful sunset and read my book.

We spoke with the chef at lunch today and convinced him to give us a tour of the kitchen this evening. Maybe we'll postpone till tomorrow.

Kim announced that we've made incredible progress. We'll be on the coast of Iceland tomorrow morning. We hope to do a cruise or hike. In the afternoon we'll land at an island called Vigur where there are puffin and an eider farm. Yeah! It'll be great that we are able to get off the ship again after all.

July 9, 2005 Saturday; Midnight-ish The Explorer - Day 9; Vacation - Day 11 Westfjords, Iceland

"The Westfjords Peninsula and the far Northwest of the Country looks like a giant amoeba that is struggling to break off from the rest of Iceland and escape into the North Atlantic." -- Paul Harding and Joe Bindloss

We made it through the rough seas today all the way to Iceland. We didn't get there as early as expected, but what the heck.

After breakfast, I caught Roger's lecture, "Seabirds of the North Atlantic." I managed to stay awake through most of it. Nina skipped dinner last night and breakfast and lunch today. She's been sleeping - hoping to avoid seasickness.

Renee and I were visiting with the dogs that now have this net thing over their pen and the whole pool area. They got so excited when I came to visit, the girl dog stuck her head out of the net so I could pet her, and her head got stuck. Uh oh! I ran downstairs and grabbed Kim. Expedition Leaders can fix anything. She freed the dog and then climbed under the net to get them fresh water. Naturally I got a picture of Kim under the net, extending her "paws."

I skipped the lecture at 11:00 on Whaling - part 1. It felt good to nap. I thought about skipping lunch, but me...miss a meal? Never!

At around 2PM we made it to Isafjordur, the largest settlement in West Fjords. We had to pick up an officer to check our passports and stuff and admit us back to Iceland. We saw tons of seabirds today. They love following the boat. The day was cloudy, but Roger promised it would clear up in time for our landing at Vigur, a small, small island with an eider duck farm and a great place to see puffins, guillemot, and Arctic terns.

Roger was correct! We had success - some blue sky and a wonderful little hike. A family owns the island, and they gave us permission to land and join them for tea. The owners took us in groups around the 1-mile island. The only windmill in Iceland is here. Our guide demonstrated the use of a puffin catching net. Looks mean. The island was so green and beautiful and had some neat rock formations. We saw lots of nesting sites. The puffins are just so darn cute! The Arctic terns were plentiful. We even had to carry sticks to protect ourselves from the terns. They try dive bombing your head if you get too close to their nests. Nina protected me by waving her stick. The puffins look so funny when they fly. Their wings just beat away - looking a bit awkward. One of the guides on the boat compared them to bumble bees. Often they eat too much and have a difficult time getting off the water. Very comical.

At the end of the little walk we came back to the farm house area. There we saw two lambs, an eider duck strolling, children playing in the yard, and a black guillemot. The guillemot was perched in a little grassy area on a building structure waiting for his mama to return with food. The birds would fly by really low with a fish hanging out of their mouths.

Went into the gift shop/post office and learned how they collect and clean eider down. Very interesting. One kilo (2.2 lbs.) of eider down sells for 100,000 ISK (or about $1,400) They collect 60 kilos per year on the island. The stuff is really, really soft but we are not allowed to bring it back to the U.S. - marine mammal parts aren't permitted.

Visited the little café and had some cake and juice. It was tasty. What a great little place. We did a ½ hour zodiac cruise with Scooby and traveled around the island. It's so cool to watch those darn puffins! The water was a bit rough and splashy, but it was great.

After returning to the ship, we had a briefing at 7:00 p.m. on what to expect tomorrow as well as a recap of what we saw today. Tomorrow we visit a waterfall in the morning and do another hike in the afternoon. Should be another fabulous day.



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