Monday, July 26, 2010


As we rounded the Hornstrandir (the most remote and rugged place in Iceland) we noticed that the sea north of Iceland was smooth as glass. We were very close to the Arctic Circle but would not be passing through the actual latitude until 945 PM on the 25th of July.

Returning to Akureyri was an absolute pleasure. The city (the 2nd largest in all of Iceland) was so beautiful on this sunny, warm day. The trees lining the streets were abundant. Unlike most trees in Iceland, they were what people of other areas of the world would classify as being of normal size. Once one leaves the city to travel to other areas, there are numerous smaller birches which appear to be the size of bushes rather than trees.

Since we had visited Akureyri before and had traveled to Namarskand with its boiling mud pots and swirling sulphur vapor clouds, as well as Lake Myvatn and Dimmuborgir, we opted to take a Princess tour which included the Botanical Gardens and Laufas Folk Museum. All tours out of Akureyri include the waterfall, Godafoss, so we made a repeat trip to Godafoss, where the heathen images were tossed into the turbulent waters in 1000AD when the Icelandic people were converted to Christianity. Presumably, they are still at the bottom of the waterfall.

The Laufas complex consists of an ancient church as well as an extended Icelandic farmhouse made out of wood, turf, and stone. It was the largest extended farmhouse I have seen with many rooms used for different purposes off to the sides of a central corridor. It was very pleasurable traveling through the agriculturally productive Fnjaskadal Valley. The farms in this area were much more progressive than others we have seen in other parts of Iceland.

At last, we were able to visit the Listigardur Akureyrar Botanical Gardens in the most northern city of Iceland, including over 2000 species of native and foreign plants all grown just a few kilometers south of the Artic Circle. I could have spent all day there. The gardens which were first opened in 1912, are open from June 1st to October 31st. The colors look especially brilliant, and I heard many comments that many of the plants appeared larger and healthier than the same plants in other parts of the world. The gardens are behind the oldest cathedral (Lutheran) in the city. This large church also was often visited by the cruise passengers.

A much larger cruise ship occupied a dock not far from ours, the Mittennachtsonne (a German ship). It left the harbor 3 hours before our ship.

I savored every moment of our sailing towards the open sea on the Eyjafjordur. We could see all the large farms we had seen from land. They seemed even larger from sea.

Everyone kept an eye on the clock, so as not to miss the moment we passed into the Arctic Circle on the way north (near the Isle of Grimsey), then east, then south, on the way to our next stop, the Shetland Islands.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


It seems like the more places we visit in Iceland, the more we like the country. Each place has it’s own particular charm. We sailed northwest from Grundarfjordur to a peninsular area known as the West Fjords. The town stands on a narrow spit of land in the fjord of Skutulsfjordur, which meets the waters of the larger fjord, Isafjardardjup. Isafjordur is the capital of the West Fjords peninsula and provides the services and administration for the area. There are all school levels, including a recently established university center. Fishing, since the year 900, has been the primary industry.

The Isafjordur airport operates at least two flights daily to/from Reykjavik. The narrow landing strip lies between the waterway and the steep volcanic cliffs opposite the town.

The community has welcomed 10 cruise ships this past year, according to our guide. Our tour took us the town of Bolungarvik where we were treated to an accordion concert at the old church. The young lady entertaining us had recently won the competition as Iceland’s best accordionist. The town also is the site for the Osvor Museum. We listened as Johann told us the stories of fishing traditions of old Iceland. Johann was dressed in animal skins, and we all listened intently as he told the tales in his native Icelandic (Kristin, our guide, translated). He really looked the part of a fisherman of long ago.

They are building a tunnel between Bolungarvik and the smaller village of Hnifsdalur which will be completed in September. The road around the mountain is very dangerous, with potential numerous rockslides (or should we say boulder-slides), especially during the rainy season. The tunnel will be 5 kilometers long and will make life much easier for the local population.

We returned to Isafjordur (translation --Ice Fjord) for a visit to the Maritime Museum and were entertained by teenage dancers and singers performing local music. It is interesting to note that Isafjordur has a prominent music school. The museum is located in one of the oldest houses in Isafjordur and is one of four in the museum group. We were served dried fish (hardfiskur) as well as Hakarl (fermented shark). We continued through town past the old hospital (now a cultural center), and the larger new hospital. We passed the avalanche barrier, protecting one segment of town from devastating avalanches during the winter season. On the way to a newly planted forest we saw the new ski resort building, the latest one. Avalanches seem to keep damaging their ski areas, and they move them as necessary.

There wasn’t time to spend walking around town, but at dinner I learned that the most popular place was the local bakery which served “proper” desserts.

We were told that it doesn’t snow much any more in Isafjordur. But one looks at the nearby mountains with the “snow that never melts” and you wonder…..

Friday, July 23, 2010

Deck 10 Forward, The Tahitian Lounge

Every day that we are at sea, right after breakfast in the regular dining room, I take my bag of applique projects and head to the Tahitian Lounge. There are floor to ceiling windows on 3 sides, and it is a perfect place to do handwork. The chairs are quite comfortable. However, the entire right side of the lounge is devoted to those who love to smoke, leaving the left side of the lounge for non-smokers. I sit on the left.

The lounge is used for many things. When I arrive there early, I find several people reading quietly. Often there are scores of large paintings stacked deep in the first half of the lounge area, awaiting the afternoon art auction. Passengers seem to be getting more vocal in their displeasure of having art auction items taking up so much space. They start realigning the framed pieces so that they can reach the comfy chairs.

As time progresses, the dancers move in to the dance floor (also surrounded by paintings). The CD player belts out Cha-Cha-Cha music while the ship’s dance teacher yells out dance commands over the music. (I just sit and stitch.) Following the Cha-Cha-Cha lessons, the line dancers appear. Time to switch the music to loud renditions of “Elvira” while the line dance teacher yells out the movements over the music. (Same ship’s teacher -- I think the ladies only show up because he is rather young and handsome.) I am still stitching.

Oh, dear! Here come the Trivia crowd. They need to form groups of 6 in order to having the winning team. And what are those people doing in their favorite chairs, reading and doing handwork!?! I think the trivia players have given up (finally) trying to shame us in to giving them their rightful places in the lounge. Amid rather vocal protestations, chairs are frantically moved around the room, players shout at each other (“We’re over here today!”), and remarks are made about the amount of space being used by the paintings. I sit and listen as the Trivia questions are asked by young cruise personnel. There is a hum throughout the lounge as the teams strain to be the top team. The glory! The prizes! The shame in not being #1. After the winning team is presented with it’s cruise lanyards, or small bags, or whatever, there is talk about what to do with the winnings. Perhaps give them to a second hand shop when they get home.

Time for lunch!


Sailing up the fjord to Grundarfjordur, we were accompanied by hundreds of seagulls. They seemed to be welcoming us to this beautiful side of Iceland. As they settled on the water after our arrival, one could see thousands of seagulls sitting there watching. As we rode the shuttle into the town pier, we got a rare glimpse of the ship, Le Boreal, (Compagnie du Ponant) anchored closer to town. This is a smaller French ship, classified as a mega-yacht.

Our motor coach to the delightful town of Breidarfjordur was waiting on the pier. We traveled for 45 minutes through the countryside, enjoying the scenery. The southwestern side of Iceland has a lot more vegetation than the southeastern side. We saw many well-fed sheep, horses and cows. At one point, the motor coach stopped to let a family of sheep cross the highway. We were very impressed with Breidarfjordur. It looked like a nice place to return to, with ample lodging and restaurants. A new Lutheran church dominates the skyline.

We boarded a sightseeing boat to visit many of the 3,000 intertidal islets and experienced the tidal races. These islands provide a haven for puffins, cormorants, kittiwakes, black guillemots, and sea eagles. The boat was able to pull right up to the nesting areas for viewing. I love the puffins (although I shouldn’t be partial). They are so cute and look like helicopters flying sideways when they are in flight. Their wings have a very rapid movement. The boat provided ample seating space on the top deck and had a spacious enclosed area below with large tables and seating for those wanting to avoid the cold air outside. Temperature today was about 59 F.

At dinner tonight, someone spotted a whale on the port side. It was amazing to see how fast the diners could move (to port)!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Continuing on to Grundarfjordur, Iceland

The last two days we have been at sea, traveling on the Denmark Straits between Greenland and Iceland. Tomorrow we arrive at Grundarfjordur. The seas have been very calm.


The name "Nanortalik" means Bear Country.

Nanortalik was founded in 1797 as a Danish whaling station. Today, Nanortalik is a fishing port. The harbor does not freeze over, as the waters from the Gulf Stream flow nearby. The locals say there is no fish in nearby waters. They depend upon seal meat as a reliable food item. They also fish for trout in mountain streams to sell at the local market.

I went ashore alone, as we knew there would be a lot of walking. We had not received word of any driving tours which would be offered. This was logical, since the only roads were those in this small village. As I approached the Nanortalik Tourism Office, I saw a sign saying, “Twenty Minute Tours -- Only $5 US Dollars”. After a short walk around the center of town, I decided to splurge and take the $5 tour. The minivan tour lasted 40 minutes, and we learned a lot. The driver (originally from Denmark) drove at a snail’s pace, and we literally drove down every street in the village. The only place we did not go was the town dump.

We learned that the local school children are flown in by helicopter or arrive by boat. Once they arrive in Nanortalik at the beginning of the school year, they remain at the school (complete with dormitories and canteen) until the end of the school year. The schooling is at no cost to the students. We learned that Denmark plays an important part in providing comprehensive services to the local inhabitants. Medical and dental care is at no cost, for example. The professionals there are sent from Denmark. Some of the nurses are natives of the village.

The town was very eager to present several events for the enjoyment of the cruise passengers. There were folk dances at the Culture House, choir performances at the old Nanortalik wooden church, and a kayak show at the Old Harbor in the Open Air Museum. Inuit natives were preparing seal meat for those who wanted to sample a staple of local food. Historic Nanortalik (of particular interest to tourists) consists of a museum turf house, sealskin tents, bakery, personnel house, stable, cooperage, timber church, blubber house, oil-boiling house and general store.

Even though the temperature was in the low 40’s, I found that a simple windbreaker was sufficient outer wear.

QAQORTOQ, the Return

I know it hasn’t been that long since we were last in Qaqortoq, but I couldn’t wait to return. There were a couple of things I didn’t do last time we were here that I wanted to do this time.

We had to anchor farther out this time. More icebergs had floated into the area, and our normal “parking place” was occupied by a rather large iceberg.

As I boarded the shuttle boat, my friend, Vicki came on board, so we walked around the town together. There is a rather large seal fur company in town. We had to go have a look at all of the products they make with seal fur (purses, slippers, gloves, and lots of coats, etc). Vicki found some great fur items dyed green, her favorite color.

We walked up a set of steps, continued up the hill and over behind the grocery store beyond a large outcrop of boulders until we reached the hotel. We enjoyed some tea and pastries while sitting on the balcony watching the largest iceberg being blown by the winds towards the ship, then we watched as the pilot boat ran out to the ship to discuss the iceberg. As it turned out, the iceberg drifted just beyond the ship, but it provided some wonderful photo opportunities for the photographers (nearly everyone) on board.

Playing Catch-Up

I realize that I have been enjoying my time at sea, watching the waves roll in and stitching. For those of you who are interested, I am nearly done with the Mary Simon block I brought along on the voyage.

BUT, we are fast approaching a dead internet zone (I learned from past experience that the Denmark Straits on the western side of Iceland can present a problem with internet service), so I am trying to bring you up to date about our schedule.

(Just two more Greenland ports to go before I am up-do-date.)


I should have mentioned our trip to St. Pierre -- after St. John’s and before New York.

I was really anticipating this visit. St. Pierre is not an easy island to access. The island itself belongs to France. Access is by way of Newfoundland…or cruise ship. We were able to dock at a pier located about 1 and ½ miles from the center of town. We were encouraged to walk, but there was also a school bus providing round trip service for a small fee.

We took the one tour bus on the island for a comprehensive 36 mile tour, visiting (at a very slow pace) all places with paved road access, all homes past and present, belonging to the driver (and owner) of the bus and tour company, as well as homes belonging to all of his relatives. There were a lot of scrub pines, and I thought the building concept in the countryside was rather interesting. Many of the homes had driveway access, but all other land space was taken up with the small scrub pines, hugging the house on all sides, except for a small entrance. I think that perhaps this deters a lot of drifting snow from building up against the houses in the winter.

This is a very tidy island with colorful houses and friendly locals. A friend (whom I trust explicitly), was able to visit the local hotel and restaurant and was impressed enough to want to return for a month’s stay at a later date. She was quite impressed with the local cuisine and the convenient lodging.

St. Pierre has had a rather successful fishing industry in the past. Any necessity they lack, the guide informed us, is provided by the mother country, France. Most of the populace works for the local government. The remainder work at seasonal employment. The local museum is worth a visit.

This is the only place I have visited which provides a wonderful little home in the middle of the town’s lake for it’s duck population. (Yes, photos to follow.)


St. Anthony’s has a population of between 1200 and 1300 persons. This does not include the tremendous moose population. Two basic ship tours were offered: 1) Cruise the scenic coastline in an open boat looking at all the birdlife, or 2) Travel 45 minutes to a Viking Village and talk to one or more of the Viking re-enactors who work at this World Heritage site. We decided to visit the Vikings. (The open boat tour was cancelled, due to horrendous weather conditions.)

St. Anthony’s was very different from St. John’s. For one thing, it is quite a ways farther north. We missed one of the two sunny days it has had so far this year. It was very rainy, windy, and slightly above 40F. The storm we missed in Halifax was still lingering here. Naturally, due to it’s size, St. Anthony’s did not have the facilities for docking a ship the size of the Ocean Princess. As we bobbed up and down in open waters, the shuttle boat announced it was taking passengers. This boarding procedure took a little longer than normal, as we each individually had to wait for the proper moment to leap aboard. We had a lot of assistance. There were at least 2 crewmen shipside and 2 more in the shuttle boat to grab each person boarding the smaller boat. The seas were quite rough until we reached the inner harbor. Many passengers decided to forego the trip to town.

Once in town, we all boarded the local school buses for the trip to the Viking Village. Thank goodness I had purchased a nice umbrella at Peggy’s Cove. I would need it for this trip! When we arrived at the village, I opened my umbrella, and within 2 seconds it was turned inside out. (Oh, well. I might have gotten into trouble displaying the Nova Scotia tartan in Newfoundland anyway.) We made our way into the nearest mud hut and stayed there listening to a fantastic Viking re-enactor (Bjorn the Beautiful) until it was time to journey to another part of the village. When I found out that a Viking ship was waiting a few hundred yards away, I quickly purchased another waterproof jacket and made my way past Wilbur the pig to take photos.

(Yes, both Wilbur and the ship will appear in August.)

On the way back to town, we saw a family of rain-drenched foxes and one shy moose.

Everyone successfully re-boarded the big ship. I later learned that those who tried to do a walking tour of town did not find much of interest there.

Note: Moose are so plentiful here that one can normally see several while driving down the road. However, during moose season (knowing they are protected on provincial park lands), they all go to the park and stand en masse, smiling at the hunters. (They say this is true.)


We have visited Halifax several times, so we decided to travel by tour bus to Peggy’s Cove. It was a perfect day, sunny, with temperatures in the mid 70's. "Thank goodness, you didn't come yesterday", the guide told us. "We had a horrible rain storm!" (The one they also had in New York!) There were at least 3 buses which were filled for this tour. Our tour guide was the best we have had so far on this cruise. He not only took us to Peggy’s Cove, but he also knew the best scenic routes to bring us back to a special lobster restaurant for our lobster lunch. Our motor coach was the only one there. The other motorcoaches had decided to pack everyone in at the restaurant at Peggy's Cove. Our restaurant had been in business for 8 generations. They really knew their lobsters! Only one lady had chicken, and she became ill watching everyone else devour their lobsters. (Moral: Don’t go on a tour offering Lobster, if you are concerned for the “poor” lobsters.)

The guide, who really enjoyed our company, decided to have the driver take us up to the Citadel on the way back to the ship even though it was not officially included on our trip. It brought back pleasant memories of the time we spent there with the 73rd Regiment. I did feel sorry for the driver. He was at the complete mercy of the guide after having driven all the way from New Brunswick to help him out. His day wasn’t finished. He still had to drive all the way to Sydney after he dropped us off (Cape Breton Island).

Photos to follow in August. (Next time, I'll bring the larger laptop!)

Ship's Inspection, NEW YORK

Once a year, each ship coming into a U.S. port must pass a very rigid inspection from the United States Coast Guard. Since it had been a year since the last inspection, the Ocean Princess was due for it's annual comprehensive inspection. This was no easy task. Not only did the inspection last approximately 10 hours, covering all aspects of the ship's operation, but we were also taking on a new relief captain. Before leaving, the captain proudly announced a score of 100% (the best) by the Coast Guard. Everyone was very happy.

NEW YORK CITY, Brooklyn Pier

This 36-day cruise was divided into two 18-day cruises by Ocean Princess. On the night before our arrival in New York, we were issued a new cruise card for the oncoming 18 days. All but 51 of the passengers on board were departing for home. Those who remained had the choice of 1) departing the ship for a few minutes with their passports in hand, go through an immigration process with customs, then re-embark the ship, or 2) depart the ship and spend the day visiting the Big Apple before boarding again in the afternoon. We chose to avoid the potentially rainy day in New York and spent just a few minutes off the ship in the Brooklyn Pier Terminal. There were about 8 of us who chose the first option.

The remainder of the returning passengers, showing an affinity for “Up/Down” buses, went into Manhattan for the day and rushed to sit in the upper level of said bus. Shortly thereafter, there was a tremendous downpour which lasted the entire day. Finding that the lower portion of the bus was filled to capacity, they chose to remain upstairs to view this popular city, and returned totally drenched to the skin.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


The last time we tried to sail to St. John’s, the seas were far too rough, and the port was deleted from the ship’s itinerary. We were able to visit this time. The seas were calm, allowing for a smooth entrance through the narrow harbor opening. St. John’s harbor is very protected. When the locals learn a major storm is coming, they gather in all the ships in the area to protect them from the elements. We were told that sometimes there are so many ships in the harbor, one can walk from ship to ship.

St. John’s is a much larger city than I had imagined. It is the capital of the province of Newfoundland and is spread over quite a large area. Population exceeds 512,000. As we left the ship to explore the area, we were greeted by two world champion dogs--one was a fantastic Newfoundland dog while the other was a Labrador. It was quite the photo opportunity (and some of us got in some hugs as well). After a tour of St. John’s and nearby smaller harbors, we ventured out to the most easterly point in North America, Cape Spear’s Lighthouse. It was very sunny out, and the temperature was around 86 F. We all hoped St. Anthony would be this nice on our return voyage.

At the end of the tour, I hired a taxi driver to go in search of sketching pens. We found an art supply store on the edge of the city. (Jim always gives copies of his sketches to ship’s personnel as we sail along.)
Photos will follow in August.

Monday, July 19, 2010


I was looking forward to returning to Qaqortoq, Greenland. When we had been there before on the Grand Princess, the town had several special events planned. An elderly kayaker showed off his fishing techniques by leaping off the bridge into the harbor several meters below while strapped in his kayak, doing flips showing how easy it was to fool large fish by hiding behind the kayak, sneaking up to within arm’s length to pierce their prey, all the while staying absolutely dry in the below-freezing elements.

The new church on the hill had a chorus of local Inuit singers in native dress performing a nice concert. One could chat with them afterwards, learning about local customs and dress design by the Inuit women.

These attractions were not available this time. There were two smaller ships in the harbor, the Ocean Princess and the Saga Ruby. There are always a lot of local elderly townspeople out and about to welcome visitors. A lot of people headed to the Old Church (Savior’s Church) just a short walk from the Town Square. Another popular spot was the General Store, filled with boxes of modern appliances, all fresh from the supply ship’s delivery from Denmark. One has an opportunity to meet a lot of friendly Inuits and people of Danish heritage who live there. Katrina said she hoped to see me when we returned 10 days later from St. Anthony’s, Newfoundland, but needed to return to Denmark to meet family members.

Yes, it is possible to get a sunburn in Greenland. The temperature was a good 86 F with the sun beating down.

I will include photos in August. (I really have spent a lot of time retouching the photos of stone carvings to remove the graffiti which appeared after my last visit.)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cruise Library -- Observations

I didn’t go to the Library on Deck 10 aft to read. I usually do appliqué where the light is better on Deck 10 forward. Today, I wanted a change of scenery. The seas were quite rough, so there were ample seats. At first it was rather quiet. A few people were reading, one person was sketching, and my needle was rather quiet as I sat stitching.

A husband/wife team brought their books in to read. Still quiet. As I glanced up at them across the room, I noticed a firm glare towards the chair where I sat. Could it be that I was sitting in their favorite chair? After awhile, they sat across from me, alternating their reading and glaring. When I get started stitching, I stay put until something really important disturbs my work (lunch). The couple got up a few times, then returned to see if I were still there. There must be something magical about that chair. It was identical to the ones where they sat, only facing west.

The silence was interrupted by four elderly card players. Realizing it was a Library, they spoke only in hefty Southern accented stage whispers, so that everyone in the Library could hear the latest dinner table gossip. I had never realized this before, but when playing cards it is necessary to shuffle the cards no less than 27 times, tapping the cards on the table top 3 times between each shuffle. (Things you normally never think about.)

One octogenarian found his favorite titles and gave us all a lesson on perusing books. First, you shove the first book into the back of the bookshelf, so that it makes a loud clacking noise, then you pull it back towards you and out from the shelf to examine the first page. Once you have determined the contents on page one, you place this first book back on the shelf, being careful to repeat the ramming of the book against the back of the bookshelf one more time before pulling it back to it’s proper place. (I suppose this keeps the pages properly aligned.) You continue to do this with each subsequent book until you have examined at least 20 books. It may very well be that you do not find a good book in this lot and will have to go repeat the process in another section of the Library.

Should I do something to protect the expensive china greyhounds gracing the fireplace mantle? They are starting to wobble with the high seas. (I left them alone, and they held their ground.)

Why are people so sloppy today? They are leaving white paper bags on the Library tables, in the hallways next to the trash cans, on the counters in the restrooms. Everywhere you look, paper bags. I was about to gather them all up and (helping out the cruise staff) place them in proper trash receptacles. Then it dawned on me that these bags bore a striking resemblance to the little “barf” bags one sees on airplanes. Could it be that some people were actually getting ill?

Friday, July 16, 2010

On the Way to Qaqortoq

On the Way to Qaqortoq we had the opportunity to travel through the Prins Christian Sund. Many people on the westbound crossing had tried before to transit the sound and were unable, due to massive icebergs blocking the passage. The Danish government sent helicopters ahead of our ship to make sure there were no icebergs in our path. Greenland is 85% covered with permanent ice-cap, much of which is 2 miles deep. As we passed through Prins Christian Sund it was a clear day with plentiful icebergs. I was looking forward to the very small village on the south side of the sound. When we passed through here a few years ago on the Grand Princess, the villagers all came out to greet us on small boats. As we came to a complete stop, the boats came right up to our ship and shouted greetings. This time, the captain stopped our ship and turned it 360 degrees while the villagers remained on shore watching from a distance. It was impossible to communicate with them, but we waved, hoping they were watching with their binoculars.
(Photos will follow in August.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Reykjavik, July 3, 2010

We love Reykjavik. It was kind of sad visiting this time. My good friend, Ragnheidur, died last year. I really missed seeing her, and thought of her the whole time we were here. Reykjavik is a clean, modern city. Since we had visited here before, we decided to take a ride out to the Southeast, visiting the Geothermal pools and also the Blue Lagoon. Vicki, one of our onboard friends tried out the Blue Lagoon. She seems all the better for her dip there. The countryside consists of varying levels of lava flows, covered with varying levels of moss growth. As the lava flows age, they break down. Over an extended period of time, they become usable. Most of the land is unusable and without vegetation.

I had the opportunity of observing several local young ladies perform a fertility rite at a geothermal pool. Using a net bag, one of the ladies, who wished to become pregnant with 6 children (presumably, one at a time), was boiling 6 eggs in the 200 degree celsius water. After they were cooked, she then ate the sulphur infused eggs. By doing this she was assured of having 6 healthy children. After the ceremony, the young ladies all drove away, cheering as they left.

The geothermal energy also heats the Icelandic homes, creating a very reasonably priced and clean heat source.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Seydisfjordur--parting words.

"You are so fortunate to encounter such nice weather here in the northeast. Really bad weather is coming right after you leave".

Yes, the storm (an Icelandic Nor'Easter) was on it's way. The ship's captain informed us that either 1) we could head due southwest and be caught in a horrific storm, or 2) we could go north, then west, then southeast to Reykjavik. He chose option #2, which worked out very well. The seas were calm, and everyone was happy. On our way southward, we waved to the ports of Isafjordur and Grundarfjordur, which we will visit on our way back across the Atlantic.

Seydisfjordur, Iceland. July 1, 2010

It is only a day's cruising to reach the Northeastern Icelandic port of Seydisfordur from the port of Torhavn in the Faroe Islands. We hadn't been to this Icelandic port before. We left on a motorcoach for the delightful town of Eskifordur. Both the driver and the guide were from this town. They have a very nice (but small) Maritime Museum run by the local senior citizens. Nearby was the Helgustadur Mine which is not longer in use, but was important in the mining of Spar, used in microscopes and the like.

Lunch at the Randulfjohus Dock House consisted of dried cod snacks, fermented shark pieces, as well as schnapps made from potatoes and cumin called "Black Death". To be fair, we also had potato salad, field corn, rhubarb jelly, and lamb.

On the return trip to Seydisfordur, we stopped at the Museum of the War Years in the town of Reydarfjordur. There were presentations of the World War II activities with their British allies in the severe northern Icelandic climate.

Faroe Islands, June 30, 2010

Proceeding, without photos for now. (I will add photos when I have access to my other laptop on August 1st or later.)

When you visit Torshavn (pronounced Tor-shawn by the locals)it makes good sense to bring a lightweight raincoat with you. The weather can change dramatically and quickly. We lucked out. I had forgotten the Faroe Islands rain gear, but the weather was quite decent. Last time we visited the island, we had seen the National Historic Museum and the town of Kirkjubour, home of the 12th Century St. Olaf's parish church, the ruins of the 13th Century St. Magnus Cathedral, and 10th Century farmhouse.

We traveled by motorcoach to the town of Vestmanna and boarded a boat to explore the western cliffs. The sea cliffs are riddled with sea grottoes and are home to hundreds of seabirds (puffins, kittiwakes, and stormy petrels. We saw most of the birds (except for the illusive puffin, my favorite). The boat was able to pass through some of the caves in the 1800 foot cliffs. We passed a small village which had been abandoned by the residents when the demands of living there became too great. I recalled many of the same types of villages still used by the hearty Norwegians along the rugged coast of Norway.