August 30 continues: It was time for a mid-cruise dinner with our first night table, so Dorothy and I rounded up Brian and Sharon and Rolf and Marion. It would have been a lot better if we hadn’t landed the worst waiter in the place, but it was still fun, and we agreed to do it one more time. The entertainer for the night was Jonathan Johnson, an Irish flautist, who was pretty funny to boot.
Saturday, August 31, we had our Distinctive Voyages tour from Reykjavic. Reykjavic is a very clean city and mostly new looking. The corrugated tin buildings have given way to concrete and everything is heated with hot water from nearby springs, since 1939. The settlers have mostly been Norwegians and British Islanders, though they were ruled by Denmark for 35 years, so there must have been Danes, too. The main industries now are tourism and fishing. The soil isn’t good enough for much farming. If you can ever get some Icelandic lamb to eat, do. It’s the purest you’ll get anywhere. They have earthquakes just about every day, and we got to see their effects all through our day, not to mention the signs of ongoing volcanic activity. This may not look like much, but it’s the Bridge Between Continents, and those are our people standing on it. It’s over where the North American and Eurasian Tectonic plates meet, far, far under ground. Around 200 million years ago, the North American plate was joined with the Eurasian, African and South American plates, until all that started to break apart between 135 million and 65 million years ago. These things take time. The earth under Iceland is still moving, always. You can see the cracks, and the lava. It’s very evident and sort of surreal. There’s a lot of lava rock everywhere and there are at least six different types of it depending on when and how it got to the surface. Eruptions under glaciers, for example produce a different kind of lava from those which breach the surface under the ocean or into the air. Am I boring you? It was actually fascinating for a day, but I wouldn’t want it all as a constant companion. The weather was pretty good for us. It was cold and damp, but it didn’t rain.
The highways are good, and there’s not much traffic, even though 2/3 of the population has cars. The total population of Iceland is only about 350,000, you see. It was doubled for 55 years, when there was a NATO base here. That brought sports like basketball to the Icelanders and left them some pretty good housing, when it closed in 2006. It’s near the airport, so there are plenty of jobs for the folk who now have the housing.
Iceland has been an independent country since 1944. The earth’s crust is thinner here than on any other continent. It supports 450 kinds of plants, but you don’t see all that many of them. It also has 600 different mosses, and you do see a lot of those. It will take millions and millions of years before they amount to anything, though. They do have a lot of lovely, clean energy as you don’t have to dig down very far to hit a hot spring, which you can use to build a power plant for a whole city the size of Reykjavik.
Neil Armstrong, Buzz aldrin and company trained here for their lunar expedition. They came back later and told the Icelanders that their country was more like the moon that the moon itself. In the middle of all this, they managed to build a golf course, but it is pretty pitiful and must make for some interesting play, as the lava rock is close to the surface and sticking out all over the place. You don’t have to worry about your ball hitting a tree, though.
We stopped for lunch at a fishing village. The rustic restaurant was a reproduction, on a grander scale to accommodate tour groups. The food was authentic, though, and the fish was beautifully fresh. We all enjoyed it. The landscape got more active after lunch when we visited Krysuvik geothermal area, where the ground was giving off all over the place and they have to keep moving the paths. The colors were pretty. The odor was not. We made another photo stop at LakeKleifarvtan and returned to the ship. It was just starting to rain, and it poured. Our timing was impeccable.
Dorothy and I shared a table for two for the first time and enjoyed the show, which was an Icelandic folk/rock band.
We were still in Reykjavik on Sunay, September 1st. After a false start, where I forgot my wallet and it cost me three-quarters of an hour to go back and get it, I boarded a HopOn HopOff bus, which was just the ticket. Reykjavik means “smoky bay” but it was a glorious sunny day for walking around all over the place, which I duly did. I might have bought a sculpture of an Icelandic horse, had the shop been open, but Sunday saved me. I did note the gallery name and address, though. All aboard was three-thirty, so you couldn’t do much but simply enjoy the town, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Because Jean Woods and I each had a free Pinnacle dinner for being five-star, she invited me to come have it together. We had a lovely time and ate too much, of course, but it was all very good. They we went to see the Dutch Magician, Ronald Moray, whom I won’t have to see again.