Thursday, August 6, 2009

Voyage of the Vikings, Day 13 - Seydisfjordur, Iceland

Just another picturesque fishing village. Not to complain; this one truly is beautiful. It's just the fourth day in a row. Our preference would be two sea days between every port.

Sedisfjordur certainly is well situated, at the head of a steep sided, narrow fjord of the same name, with scenic waterfalls everywhere. The surrounding landscape shows a lot of similarities with Skagway, Alaska.

Seydisfjordur Port Map

Weather today is 50deg., cloudy with rain forecast. Winds at sea last night were 30 to 35 out of the east, on our port beam. Good sleeping conditions!

Keith was determined to arise in time to view our approach into this beautiful fjord. Not. He awoke at 5:30, started to drag himself out of bed, blinked, and discovered the clock had jumped ahead to 7. Oh well...

After breakfast Keith went on the aft deck to take a few photos.


Waterfalls Abound in Seydisfjordur Fjord


Just one of Many Beautiful Seydisfjordur Waterfalls


Picturesque Icelandic Rowboats


Ghost of the WCYC Marine Railway

It's 8:45, we are fed and on a tour bus, headed up through a steep valley at the head of the fjord. We hate to keep making comparisons, but it reminds us of the cliomb up from Skagway, through the White Pass. Or, maybe like the climb up Thompson Pass, out of Valdez, Alaska.


Kathy on Her Way to the Gangway

BTW, Valdez is where we saw one of the lifeboats from the sinking of the HAL cruise ship Prinzendam in the Gulf of Alaska almost 30 years ago. Read all about it in a recently published book titled "Burning Cold".

The tour we are on today is entitled Monsters and Elves. As we drive through the mountains, our tour guide is telling us about the settlement history of Iceland. Since we can't begin to spell or pronounce the names, all of the history referenced can be found in the Icelandic Sagas.

Today’s Tour Map

We have driven past several public improvement projects that have been halted due to the dire economic situation in Iceland.

Tourguide Factoids:

The national day in Iceland is June 17th.

Iceland is the second most volcanicaly active country in the world, after Hawii.

As we said, this tour is named Monsters and Elves. The following information is provided by the tourguide, without endorsement.

One day God came to visit Eve, and she was not prepared. Some of her children were clean and presentable, and some were dirty and raggedy. Eve was ashamed, and hid the dirty children so God wouldn’t see them. Being omniscient, God of course saw the dirty children. To punish Eve, he told her that the children would remain hidden, forever. To this day, these children live in the rocks in the form of monsters, elves, trolls, etc.

Take it or leave it.

Iceland is also known as the Land of the Elves. Many people in Iceland believe in these hidden people. There is an estimate of 70,000 elves hidden in stones and rocks. They come in many sizes and shapes. Some are mischievous and some are helpful.

JRR Tolkien was fascinated with The Icelandic Sagas. Many of the places and people in his famous Ring Trilogy have their basis in Icelandic lore.

10:00am. We have crossed the pass from our docking port and have driven northbound through a beautiful broad, flat Fljotsdalsherad Plain that descends gradually into the sea. We just turned right, and are now climbing a narrow, winding dirt road back into the mountains. Our destination is, supposedly, another picturesque Icelandic fishing village. Imagine that! In the meantime we feel like we are on the top of the world highway, except this road is in much better condition.


A Cairn Marks the Peak of the Seydisfjardavegur Pass


The Fljotsdalsherad Plain


Critters Spotted on the Fljotsdalsherad Plain


The Village of Egilsstadir, on the Fljotsdalsherad Plain


The Fljotsdalsherad Plain Meets the Arctic Ocean

We have descended again and are now crawling along a dirt track clinging to the side of the mountain, at the edge of the Arctic Ocean. Our destination is the gift shop at the end of the Universe. I hope they have potties at the end of the universe.


Njardvikurskridur Road, Where the Rumbler (a Mythical beast)

Caused Rockslides that Killed Unwary Travelers


Monument to Travellers Killed by the Rumbler

10:38am. The bus droped a load of people at a quaint church, then drove about a block to the gift shop at the end of the universe. Unfortunately, Keith got off at the church to use a nearby facility, and the bus drove off. Not a big deal, but a block is a longer walk for Keith than it used to be.


Quaint Church in the Iceland Fishing Village of Bakkagerdi


Quaint Tour Guide Pontificates in Quaint Church


Bakkagerdi Rainbow

In the meantime, the gift shop at the end of the universe don't open 'till 11. On the positive side, the partly sunny weather is magnificent, rainy forecast notwithstanding. You just can't trust anything HAL tells you.

Lunch was served in what appears to be a small community building in this small town of 150 population. Cream of asparagus soup, codfish, salad, rolls and butter. Portions were generous. The soup was good, and the fish excellent. Much better than the tour lunch two days ago.

We stopped at an artificial man-made harbor at Harbor Hill where there is a large puffin colony. Puffins are plentiful and a food source in Iceland. Only puffins younger than 5 years old are allowed to be eaten, so as not to interrupt the breeding cycle. Puffins mate for life and lay a single egg in a hole. They return to the same spot to mate yearly. They have been known to live for 40 years.


Puffin Roost near Bakkagerdi


Puffin Doing What Puffins Do

More trivia: The European standard elevation for gentlemen's bathroom fixtures is a couple of inches higher than the American standard. It may not sound like much, but for us shorties, it makes a difference.

Our return journey through the Fljotsdalsherad Plain offered more opportunities to take photographs. A small sampling is presented below.


Happy Campers Parked at a Fljotsdalsherad Plain Overlook


An Isolated Farmstead on the Fljotsdalsherad Plain


Another Marshmallow Farm!


We Descend the Pass Road Into Seydisfjordur


Welcome Home to the Maasdam


Keith & Kathy’s Window is Visible, Just Below the Lifeboat


Kathy Kibitzes at the Gangplank as Keith Dawdles Taking Photographs

Fast forward to 5pm, in the Crow's Nest, waiting for sail away. This should be a good one, with the fjord being so scenic. On our way back from our shore excursion we were confronted by a very steep boarding ramp (see above). The Captain came on the PA system and explained that there wasn't as much water at the dock as promised, so they were docked further out than expected. Sounded specious to Keith.

It's 5:10pm and we are exiting the fjord. Time to go below, sort pictures, eat, and go to bed.

Nite - nite. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.

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