Thursday, July 20, 2023

Grundarfjördur, Iceland

Hello from Grundarfjördur!
Grundarfjördur, Iceland
View from the ship
Grundarfjördur, Iceland
Another view from the ship
Last night as we crossed the Arctic circle we sailed through the same waters where we unexpectedly had to navigate through an Arctic Ice flow last month. You can see those photos here. I figured in July we wouldn't have the same issue but it didn't stop me from looking outside each time I got up to use the bathroom. Nope, no ice. But I did see minke whales swimming along like I did when we were headed to Honningsvag, Norway. As they are super quick I didn't get any pictures. I also didn't get any pictures of the pod of orcas I saw jumping and splashing off my balcony as I waited for my 6:15 alarm to go off. They reminded me of the day we saw humpback whales breaching as we left Glacier Bay, Alaska 10 years ago. You can see those photos here.
whale planter box in Grundarfjördur, Iceland
A planter box in Grundarfjördur today shows a bit of what I saw this morning
We had face to face immigration with Icelandic officials and, well, it was interesting. They were stamping all passports so it was taking much longer than the quick UK look at the passport/look at you/look at the passport and send you on your way routine we've had the last couple times. Usually the line has shortened by the time I'm finished with my breakfast but not this time. Not by a long shot. They started at 7 AM and by 9:30 it still stretched almost the entire length of the ship.
It took me a full hour to finally get to an official. I renewed my passport before I left for this trip so I don't have any stamps yet but she flipped through my pages again and again. She was looking for a stamp showing I had entered a Schengen country so she could stamp me as exiting a Schengen country. Since I had not flown internationally I didn't have one of those stamps. When she finally asked me where I had embarked and how I got here (Los Angeles, May 11, by this cruise ship only) she handed me the passport and sent me on my way. With no stamp. Huh. So no one has record I was even in a Schengen country, I guess?

With my passport tucked back into the safe, I headed to get my tender ticket and get myself to shore. And today, like I do a lot, I just wandered. I followed crowds; I didn't follow crowds. It's a small town so I covered a lot of ground in a short time. I strolled the waterfront and snapped a clear picture of green-as-can-be Mt. Kirkjufell.
bench in front of Mt Kirkjufell in Grundarfjördur, Iceland
I rolled through the town, checking out homes and cars and flowers and yards with tall mountains in the background.
landscape in Grundarfjördur, Iceland
colorful homes in Grundarfjördur, Icelandhomes in Grundarfjördur, Iceland
I contemplated making my way to the church on the hill. I decided to go for it, dragging scooter up it with me.
Grundarfjördur Church in IcelandGrundarfjördur church in Iceland
I decided to stop in the grocery store which was packed with cruise ship passengers. Yesterday I saw paprika potato chips and wished I had bought a bag to see if I could taste them. Paprika is a strong flavor, right? Nope, not for me.
Couldn't even smell them
I encountered all kinds of driving surfaces during my adventure, some better than others.
When I made my way back to the tender dock I saw lots of people pointing to the water and taking pictures. It didn't take me too long to see what had them so excited. 


I tried to get as close as I could but all my photos taken with my phone looked like this:
Where's a decent zoom when I need it?

But I had an ace in the hole. The benefit of being on the ship so long is you make friends with people who work here. For the last two months the wheelchair assist guys have helped me and Scooter make our way up and down the gangways in every single port and every single tender port. As I was up above taking photos of puffins one of my buddies was down at the tenders (at water level!) taking photos and was kind enough to share with me. And I'm sharing with you.

puffins in water in Grundarfjördur, Icelandpuffins in water in Grundarfjördur, Iceland
puffins in water in Grundarfjördur, Iceland
puffins in water in Grundarfjördur, Iceland
puffin in water in Grundarfjördur, Iceland
Bye, gotta go!
As these were my first real live sightings of puffins in my life I made sure to stop at the little kiosk at the dock and pick up something to commemorate our visit. I was able to separate the pen from the puffin so I now have a pen and Scooter has a puffin.
puffin pen in Grundarfjördur, Iceland
I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the sun soaking up the rays.
Afternoon view from my balcony
Tomorrow we're in Reykjavik for the second visit of the summer. See you then!