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RetiredMustang

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    Puget Sound area
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    Caribbean

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  1. Aug. 24, Reykjavik (Cont.) The captain announced this afternoon that there would be fireworks behind us at 11 p.m., as we left port. He hopes to leave a bit early, I think, to be able to turn south and so avoid as much as possible a storm brewing off eastern Greenland and due to head northeast, with 45+ knot winds and 7 meter seas. He hopes by turning south, the most we will see is 5.5 meter seas (about 20 feet) starting about 3 p.m. tomorrow. He also said again, basically, to rig for heavy seas (stow your stuff, hang on to rails, etc.). Should be an interesting sea day tomorrow. Ah, life in the North Atlantic! One good bit of news: we set the clocks back an hour tonight, so will be 3 hours ahead of EDT. Here are tonight’s dinner and dessert menus: Here is tonight’s Lido dinner menu: More tomorrow, Dave
  2. Aug. 24, Reykjavik (Cont.) We then drove a short way along the road until we came to a convenient place for the bus to pull over and stop so we could take photos of a lake named Kleifarvatn. Our guide pointed out that we could see a different type of lava, in which we could see layers: But the main attraction was the lake itself: We then went a few more miles to complete the loop back at the main highway to Reykjavik. The bus had to take the same roundabout way back to the ship. This would be a good tour for most people – if you could get on and off the bus, and walk short distances, you could see everything. The museum had an elevator so you could see the longship from both floors. It was about 6 steps to actually enter the longship. At the geothermal area, you could go as far as you wanted, but it was only about 100 yards/meters on the boardwalk to the viewing area. This tour was different from the ones we had done from Reykjavik before, and it was an enjoyable morning. More later, Dave
  3. Aug. 24, Reykjavik (Cont.) We next drove south to the village of Grindavik, and turned east. Along the way, we passed a great many lava fields, such as this: We went further, and then turned north, to visit an active geothermal area. From the parking area, it was a short walk along a flat boardwalk to a viewing area. You could get quite close to the mudpots there: Those who wanted could also take another, longer path, with some steps, to see other but similar features. I went partway up, and took a photo back to the first platform, parking area and a lake in the distance. There were restrooms available by the parking. More in the next post, Dave
  4. Aug. 24, Reykjavik (Cont.) Our bus left on time at 8:30 a.m. On the way out of town, the bus had to take a roundabout way because of the many road closures for the marathon. We drove about 45 minutes to the town of Reykjanesbaer, near the Keflavik international airport (also the site of a former U.S. Navy base) to visit the Vikingaheima, or Viking Museum: This was a small, but interesting place, featuring a replica Viking longship called the Islendingur, that a man built in the 1990s and actually sailed it to North America. The museum also had several exhibits featuring Viking history, including this diorama of the settlement at L’Anse aux Meadow in northern Newfoundland. We have booked a tour there for when we visit St. Anthony in a few days. More in the next post, Dave
  5. Aug. 24, Reykjavik, Iceland day 2 This morning, we have a four-hour ship’s shore excursion called “Lunar Landscapes” which involves a drive to the relatively nearby Reykjanes Peninsula to look at several dormant volcanoes, lava fields and sulfuric mud pools. We are also scheduled to visit the Viking World Museum. The weather looks promising, partly to mostly cloudy right now, with no rain. Hopefully, that holds through the morning. Here is today’s When and Where: More later, Dave
  6. Yes to both. We had ISK, but a lot of the tourists in front of us in both places were using cards to pay. Dave
  7. Aug. 23, Reykjavik (Cont.) We went back on the ship and did our normal afternoon routine before dinner. What with many long shore excursions and us staying overnight, the happy hour and early fixed seating dinner had fewer people than usual. Here are the dinner and dessert menus: Here is the Lido dinner menu: More tomorrow, Dave
  8. Aug. 23, Reykjavik (Cont.) The weather was so nice by the time we left the church that we decided to walk the 2.5-3 miles/4-5km along the seafront back to the ship instead of waiting for a shuttle. We walked down a different street from the church, one that would lead us to the path closer to the ship than returning to the Harpa. We had not reckoned for all the construction, and had to detour a block or so, but eventually got to a lighted crossing of the busy main waterfront road. I backtracked about 100 yards/meters to take a photo of the famous Sun Voyager along the waterfront. This is a metal stylized Viking longship that never fails to inspire; today, in direct sunlight, it was awesome: Shortly thereafter, we passed the Hofdi House, site of the famous Reagan-Gorbachev summit: Much later, we passed a bend in the path that struck me as why we decided to walk back along the seashore, with mountains in the background on a beautiful day: Then, after the long hike, we were happy for the sight of journey’s end: We thoroughly enjoyed the day, the hot dog, the church and the walk, but especially the wonderful weather we had in which to enjoy it all. What a special day. More later, Dave
  9. Aug. 23, Reykjavik (Cont.) Objective number one achieved, we strolled up Austurstaeti, which became Bankastreati, which at the corner with Skolavordustigur became Laugevegur (I didn’t really remember these names, but cheated – I kept my tourist map). It was basically one long shopping street, and much more crowded than we remember, but we weren’t here on marathon weekend before, either. At the corner, I took a photo uphill along Skolavordustigur to the famous Hallgrimskirkja, the magnificent Lutheran church that was our next objective. As you can see from the photo, the church is backlit. I thought “it seems like that church is always backlit when we are here!” Then it occurred to me – the church front faces north. At 64+ degrees north latitude, probably the only time the front of the church has direct sunlight is a few days around June 21. So, I turned around halfway up, and took a photo of the street in full sunlight: Yes, it was pretty much full sunlight by then, about 12:30. I was happy that the captain’s weather forecast was a bust, but in a good way. It was partly cloudy/mostly sunny in the early afternoon, and the temps climbed to about 59F/15C. At the top of the street (I won’t inflict the name on you again), I took another backlit photo of the church and the statue in front (more about that later). Were we there just after the 12:45 bell rung, and found a note at the door that the church would close soon for a 1:30 funeral service. We were glad we had gone to the church before browsing the tourist shops, of which there were many. We were able to go inside, and I was struck by the contrast with the Catholic cathedral we had seen in Cobh – this was bare, austere even, by contrast, but the design and soaring architecture were as impressive as we had experienced before. I was able to take a photo of the amazing organ rising at the north end: : I also took a photo of the altar at the south end – the sunlight shining on the altar was stunning, but it also made for a somewhat hazy photo: Outside the church is an imposing statue of a Viking. It is Leif (or Leifur) Ericsson. Here are a photo from the side of the statue, as well as one of the inscription on the back: More in the next post, Dave
  10. Aug. 23, Reykjavik (Cont.) We were docked and cleared about 11 a.m. We had decided not to take the rain check on the whale-watching, since the company was in the old port and required pre-booking; an 11 a.m. arrival would have made that problematic. So, we had discussed it and decided to try to do two things – get a hot dog at the famous stand, and see the church again, at leisure. We went ashore about 11:15 or so and at the shop right by the pier we bought one-way shuttle tickets to town. The cost was 1,000 Icelandic Kroner (ISK), or about U.S. $8.50. I think a shuttle was supposed to arrive at 11:30, but was delayed. One of the group waiting for it went inside to talk to the staff that had sold us tickets, and she said that the bus was delayed by heavy traffic. The marathon is tomorrow, but there was no doubt a lot of preparations being made. The bus arrived about 11:45, and we were off. A short time later, we were let off at the Harpa, the convention center in the heart of downtown. We walked past many tall buildings that had not been there six years ago when we last visited Reykjavik; the city seems to be in a boom, with a lot of building construction going on. But, we found our way to Boejarins Beztu Pulsur (the best hot dogs in town). On previous visits, we had seen the hot dog stand, but it was always before the 10 a.m. opening. Today, we joined the line: It was not long, and moved pretty quickly. Most of us in line were tourists – I wonder how the Icelanders who just wanted a quick lunch thought about all of us clogging the line. Sooner than we thought, we ordered two dogs with everything (one minus onions) and two Cokes. The total was about 1,500 Icelandic Kroner (ISK), or about U.S. $12, which is not bad considering how expensive everything is in Iceland. We had heard that U.S. President Bill Clinton had eaten here once and had only the mustard, so the stand called a dog with mustard only the Bill Clinton. I can’t verify this, because there was no menu posted; you just ordered and told the man what you wanted on your dog. Here are shots of the stand, and of the one with everything I got (the brown sauce is brown mustard). My hot dog had what tasted like bacon bits, raw onions, ketchup, remoulade mayo and the brown mustard. The sausage had a snap to it which was very nice, but what with all the toppings, I couldn’t tell if it was beef, lamb or pork, or a mixture, or something else (you don’t wanna know, city boy). What I could tell is that it was delicious and a great light lunch. More in the next post, Dave
  11. Aug. 23, Reykjavik (Cont.) We picked up the pilot about 25 minutes ago, and just now passed by downtown Reykjavik en route to the pier: More later, Dave
  12. Aug. 23, Reykjavik, Iceland day 1 We are due to pull into Reykjavik today. The captain said last night that he expected to be alongside the pier by about 11 a.m. We stay until tomorrow. We have booked a tour tomorrow, which may be a good day to get out of town as the Reykjavik Marathon is tomorrow as well. We have been on many tours here before, including the Golden Circle and the Reykjavik Highlights. Today, we thought we would just go into town and try to see more of the magnificent Hallgimskirkja church. The captain said that the weather would be cloudy, but no rain, with a fairly cool temp of 48F/9C. Great for a walkabout. Here is today’s When and Where: Here is the Reykjavik port guide: More later, Dave
  13. Aug. 22, Djupivogur (Cont.) We went to dinner for our usual early fixed seating. Here are tonight’s dinner and dessert menus: Here is tonight’s Lido dinner menu: More tomorrow, Dave
  14. Aug. 22, Djupivogur (Cont.) We came out of the low fog as we entered the harbor, but the bad news was that it started to rain. I did not get a decent shot of the village, but I did get one of the crew lowering a tender. Our tour was one of the early groups called to the tenders. We arrived and were directed to our vehicles – there were seven, I think, mainly Ford Econoliner 13-passenger vans, but also some stretch-body pickups and similar vehicles with rough terrain features like huge tires. Unfortunately, some of the group did not make it to the main tender, and we had to wait a few minutes for them to arrive on the next one. Our guide came around to the vehicles to introduce himself, and as we set off, we discovered a unique situation – he was in one van, but was linked (by radio I suppose, but possibly by wifi) with the sound systems of all the others, or so I presume, so we could hear his commentary; we heard him in our van at least. We drove in convoy northwards up highway 1 for about 10 miles, and then turned onto a gravel road. A short distance away, we stopped and walked about 50 yards/meters to a viewpoint overlooking the Nykurhyls falls, and a small falls from a rill that flowed into the river just below it: The rain had turned to spotty showers, which soon stopped and we had only a very occasional light shower the rest of the tour. We drove a short way to a campground and hostel that also had public toilets. Afterwards, we drove a bit to a stop, where our guide, Johann, walked us to a spot where a farmhouse had been abandoned in the 1940s. You can also see the mix of vehicles we were using. It turns out that ¾ of the entire valley is owned by Johann’s family – his brother owns half and his grandmother owns ¼; the rest is owned by another farmer. His family is in the sheep business, selling wool, which brings in some income, and lamb meat, which brings in much more. Johann is not in the sheep business – he lives in Reykjavik and is a pilot with an Icelandic Air subsidiary, but runs tours in the summer onto his family land. The road is a public road because the Icelandic government pays part of its maintenance, but it runs through private land. The name of the valley in Icelandic is Fossardalur, which translates to Valley of Waterfalls. This turns out to be an apt description, as the main river through the valley was fed by countless streams and rills that fell down from the slopes above: We started on a gravel road, which got worse after the campground and nearby farms, turning into a rough two-track. Then it got worse, as we went farther. Then we climbed in elevation. The road got much worse. Johann later told us that, as valley roads go, this was a good one. The tour description says the road will be bumpy and is not suitable for those with back or neck problems. Believe it. We were hanging on to anything we could, while we jounced and bounced up scree slopes I would take with caution on foot. Near the top, we stopped at an upper falls of the river, while the vehicles went on to a turn-around point. Johann said this falls has no name, but the family calls it something in Icelandic that translates roughly to five fingers, because the flow becomes five different falls in lower water. We could also see the river below us, flowing to the sea: On the way back, we stopped at a meadow for a coffee ans snack break. There were juices for those who did not want coffee, as well as for all tins of commercially-produced chocolate chip cookies, a sweet of what appeared to be Rice Krispies with brown sugar, chocolate, dates, and, according to our guide, licorice, but I did not detect any in the one (or three) I had. There were also some fried doughnut-like things that were delicious. The meadow also included sheep. These could be spotted here and there along the way, and nearly every bit of green verge and meadow wherever we stopped were marked with abundant sheep doots (which sounds like a Dave Barry rock band name), so we were careful to watch down as well as out as we walked. On the way back down, we stopped again to get photos of Mulafoss: We then stopped to see a barn where the sheep stayed in winter,. Then, after a rest stop at the public restrooms, and an unscheduled stop to view a caribou out in a sheep pasture across the river, too far away for my cheapie camera to capture, we made our way back to the port, only about 45 minutes late. We took the next tender back to the ship, where we rushed through showers and I discovered a very slow internet, and then went to happy hour and dinner. Our opinion: this was a very good tour. It was expensive, but everything in Iceland is, and it supports Johann’s family and all the vans and drivers, etc. You should not take this if you have back or neck problems, and you need to be able to get into and out of a van often, sometimes from the vary back row, over the wheel well. So, wheelchairs and walkers may be problematic unless you could get the shotgun seat next to the driver. There was very little walking involved. But the scenery was superb! More later, Dave
  15. Aug. 22, Djupivogur, Iceland We are making our way to Iceland in calmer seas, but unfortunately the fog is back. Hopefully, the captain can get a safe tendering operation going and we can go ashore. We have booked a ship’s shore excursion to the Valley of the Waterfalls. Here is today’s When and Where: Here is the Djupivogur port guide: More later,
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