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.

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