Our second wake-up in Iceland

Dan and I lumbered out of bed in time to grab lunch and be on the 2 pm tender. We met our tour bus and headed out with 40 of our closest friends. We were in Isafjordur, a town of 2,700 in the west fjords, home to the annual European mud football championships. It is among the top ski destinations in Iceland and has illuminated slopes for night skiing. This small town, only 183 nautical miles from Akureyri, used to be the last watering hole for ships heading west to Greenland and North America and looks like it’s a town with a mission. There are very few decorative features to the buildings, things like breezeways, porches, balconies, porticos, and flower boxes. There are lots of windows though. Fishing put Isafjordur on the map way back when. Buildings and homes are made of corrugated metal, concrete, and wood. We could not see a single tree from the ship. We saw, a first for me, an avalanche wall designed to keep the town safe. Wash was hanging on lines to dry.

Our bus headed straight out of town and went through a six kilometer (multiply by .6 for miles) tunnel that was a godsend to the town once completed since it spared everyone the long trip up and over the rocky, treacherous mountain in winter and lessened isolation considerably year-round. Roads were not the norm in Iceland until after World War II when time and money were spent on creating some and improving others. We drove on roads built on lava fields and saw little but rolling hills and mountains covered in a soft, velvet colored green blanket of who-knows-what except to say it grows close to the grounds. It was beautiful in a stark, proud way. Reforestation is taking place all over the country, but we did not see much evidence of that here. We drove past villages of 200 to 900 people and wondered what life was like for them.

Our first stop for the afternoon was at a fascinating restored fisherman’s cluster of huts. Think pebble floor, shoulder height walls of large rock that meet a pitched sod roof, a loft, wooden door, and tiny windows. The proprietor of this fascinating museum was a dead ringer for the old man in the sea. He was decked out in traditional fishing garb, gave us a translated explanation of life there, and then posed for pictures. A fun thing to note is that a Norwegian woman established fishing in this area of Bolungarvik in the year 900+/-. Girl power.

Our second stop was at a beautiful, small, corrugated metal, two story church built 100+ years ago on the spot that has seemed worthy of a house of worship since one was first built there in the 1200s. It was immaculately kept and very quaint. Two teenagers sang, with no accompaniment, three traditional songs in a two part harmony unique to this part of the world. They were dressed in traditional dress and sang beautifully.

Our drive back into town took us past old fish drying houses, quaint cemeteries facing the fjord, and beautiful countryside. Our last stop for the day was at the Maritime Museum. This was a stumper in that aside from a very nice video showing the life of a fisherman, there was an odd collection of things. Accordions pretty much outnumbered other items. We were offered a small sample of the local schnapps, dried fish, and a shark delicacy that I was careful to sample in the minutest amount possible for good, as it turned out, reason.

Dan and I were back on board in time to join our pals for dinner and the evening’s entertainment provided by Neil Lockwood, the guy who knocked us dead with his Elton John show a couple nights ago. He did not disappoint this time around.

Cold kitchen stats…

A staff of 11 works in the cold kitchen area of the galley. On average they:

  • Serve 1,600 pounds of assorted salads
  • Use 400 pounds of shrimp
  • Make 1,500 sandwiches
  • Use 13 gallons of mayo

One thought on “Our second wake-up in Iceland

  1. You two are the best travelers and are so good at finding out all you can about each destination! Thanks for sharing with us!


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