VOV: Seydisfjordur, Iceland

Monday, August 1, 2022

The wave action kept up through the evening. Glad my Bonine was working. Wobbled from side to side walking down the hallways.

We listened to the Ocean Bar piano player and played some slots prior to dinner. The Lido was featuring Thai food so we decided to eat there tonight. It was very good.

We listened to the last two sets of the Ocean Bar band instead of going to see Iris Kroes’s second show. I heard it was just as good as the first one.

Even though our tour today was not going to leave until 1:00, I deliberately got up at 6:00 to see the scenic cruising down the fjord to the port. I was glad to feel that the wave action had stopped and felt we must have entered the fjord. When I drew back the curtain, I realized we weren’t moving at all and were, if fact, already docked. I knew this situation couldn’t be good.

While I was waiting for our coffee at the Coffee bar, I heard the Captain over the intercom say there was a medical emergency that required an ambulance to meet us as soon as possible. I heard from other guests that there was a helicopter evacuation rescue during the night about two weeks ago. I never heard the helicopter. One guest had a photo of it as it woke him up in the middle of the night.

After finishing breakfast, since we had so much time before the tour, we decided to stroll around the town for a while.

We saw some interesting artwork.

There was a beautiful waterfall just across the street.

We asked someone who was pumping gas about the gas prices. After Chuck did the conversion, we realized they were paying about $12 per gallon for gas here.

After a quick Lido lunch, we were ready for our HAL tour titled “Skalanes Nature Reserve.” The description:

Enjoy this outstanding opportunity to visit one of Iceland’s most remote places — few Icelanders have had this same pleasure.

From the pier, you will begin your journey on a regular motorcoach, until you reach the starting point for the off-road driving. Here, you will switch vehicles and step aboard a 4×4 adapted truck for ‘F-road’ driving.

Your journey begins with a drive to Þórarinsstaðir for a look at an important archeological site complete with artifacts from the earliest years of Iceland’s settlement.

Continue your panoramic drive through a green valley surrounded by tall mountains. The valley is dotted with lonely farms abandoned long ago, reminding the traveler that this peaceful landscape was once home to a number of families.

Your destination is the Skálanes Heritage Center. The Skálanes Nature Reserve covers 3,000 acres, and the goal here has been to create a site where the Iceland’s environment and cultural history can be researched and interpreted while maintaining a model for sustainable tourism. The area is home to about 47 different species of birds during the summertime. Eider ducks nest in great numbers around the pond.

From the house at Skalanes, set out with your guide on a walk to the coastal cliffs at Skalanes. They are almost 2,000 feet tall and offer a chance to come in very close proximity to nesting seabirds. This is a windswept and wild place — a very real glimpse of rugged Iceland.

Enjoy refreshments before heading back to Eskifjördur and the ship.

We boarded a bus that had large tires. Turns out it was the 4 x 4 vehicle that we would be using to get to the Nature Reserve. As we drove out of town, our tour guide gave us some interesting information:

There were 650 inhabitants and 100 of them were in the fishing industry. They bring in about 150 tons of Cod a week. They freeze it and send the majority to Germany and Norway.

The town is also a thriving art community and has an art school that attracts students from all of the world.

In 2014, the town welcomed 6 cruise ships. In 2022, they expected 105 cruise ships.

Soon, we stopped at a Viking church archeological site.

Once we left there, we drove over a very rocky road to the Nature Reserve research center.

After she told us about the research center and how many students came from all over the world to study there – biology, ecology, zoology, etc., she talked to us about the Eider ducks and how the research center raises money by collecting and selling Eider down, all without harming the ducks. We got to feel the down and it really did give off heat.

She also talked about the lupine that grows so aggressively in the area. It was planted to help with the erosion of the soil and it put a lot of nitrogen in the soil so much-needed trees could grow.

However, it was spreading rapidly, choking out native plants, and the ground-nesting birds who liked rocks and dirt for their nests, did not like the lupine. They are doing research on how they can keep the lupine but control its growth. Good luck with that – ask any Southerner about kudzu.

We walked the path up to the Bird Cliffs. She said that the Arctic terns had already migrated away, but we should see a small colony of Puffins. Soon, Chuck spotted a Puffin. I was so excited. I had been hoping all trip to see a Puffin. I took so many photos of this Puffin.

Then we walked to the end of the walkway to the viewing platform and there were so many more Puffins, even the guide was surprised at the number.

There were also many gulls nesting in the walls and swooping around.

I took so many Puffin pictures that I lost count. I did take a few minutes and also get a picture of a minke whale (at least that is what others said it was). I only saw his back. I never saw him fully surface.

Too soon, it was time to leave. We got back to the ship about 5:00 just as the rain and fog was settling in. It was a good time for a Bailey’s and hot chocolate on the covered balcony. It was a good day (even if we didn’t get any refreshments like advertised).


Travel Trivia

Seydisfjordur, Iceland

Pronunciation: See-dis-fear-der

The town settlement in the Seydisfjordur area started in 1848. The town was settled by Norwegian fishermen and some of the wooden buildings of the settlement still exist.

Seydisfjordur was used as a base for British/American forces during World War II and remnants of this activity are visible throughout the fjord, including a landing strip no longer in use and an oil tanker SS El Grillo that was bombed and sunk. It remains a divers’ wreck at the bottom of the fjord.

The town is recognized widely for its beautiful light blue church and the rainbow painted path leading up to it.

In the movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013), the famous skateboarding scene when Ben Stiller goes down mountain hills is filmed right above Seydisfjordur.

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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