Wednesday 17 July 2013

Snaesfeljokul, the Entrance to the Centre of the Earth

Grundafjordur Harbour and Polar Cirkel Boat
We didn't arrive in Iceland until 14:00 which left the morning wide open for lectures and the remainder of the bridge visits.  It was a busy morning for the Expedition Team as not only were they giving lectures and conducting bridge tours but they also had to compile the data for the Cd Log, create a master cd and then burn approximately 120 cds so that every guest would receive a comprehensive record of this voyage.  On the compact discs will be a voyage map with all of the landings and dates of the landings, a list of officers, the bio's of the Expedition Team, a list of the different nationalities on board the ship for this voyage, distance sailed, all of the daily programs and all of the blog postings.  Early this evening the  cds will be delivered to everyone's cabin. 
The sky was completely overcast throughout the morning but as we approached Grundafjordur the clouds began to break up and the sun poked through holes in the clouds more and more frequently.  Our local guides informed us that it had been raining in Iceland pretty much steadily for the last two weeks.  The sunshine was a welcome relief.
Motor Coach for our Excursions in Grundafjordur
At the pier there were four motor coaches waiting for us.  The first three set off on a large circular tour with the famous Snaefelsjokul (Glacier) in the centre of the circuit.  Even though the sun seemed to be shining more often than not, the top of Snaesfeljokul was obscured by clouds.  For those of you who are not fans of Jules Verne, Verne wrote in his famous novel, Journey to the Centre of the Earth,  that the entrance to the centre of the earth is found at Snaefelsjokul.  By the way, "jokul" in Icelandic means glacier, so to say "Snaesfeljokul Glacier" is like saying Snaefels glacier glacier.
Typical volcanic landscape in Iceland
The fourth motor coach set off for for the picturesque town of Stykkisholmur  where we joined a small boat for a nature tour in Breidafjordur Bay.  It was a lovely day for a cruise.  The boat did not have to go far before we were at a small island with a colony of seabirds.  The Captain gave a running narrative of the wildlife and the islands and at the same time skilfully navigated the boat extremely close to the cliff face where we were afforded excellent views of Kittiwakes, Fulmars and Shags on the nest.  We could also see Puffins in the grass but they were a little shy of the microphone and more often than not they ducked into their burrows.
Before we began our return to the harbour in Stykkisholmur, we stopped to pick up the small trawling net we had been dragging.  The crew poured the contents onto a sizeable table at the stern of the ship.  There was a large variety of small animals collected but the crew quickly busied themselves shucking scallops and preparing sea urchins and then dumped the remainder over the side. There was enough for everyone to sample some Icelandic Sushi.  There was even ginger, wasabi, soy sauce and chop sticks available.
The last motor coach returned to the ship at 20:10 which was a trifle late.  However dinner was still being served and the Captain's Farewell Cocktail was postponed until 21:30.