Today is the first of our five in a row sea days from Iceland to Boston, or at least, it would be a sea day if we could have left Reykjavik last night. Due to winds up to 40 knots (whatever that means), we are still in Reykjavik and it is almost 11 in morning. We just got clearance to be able to leave. so we will soon be back on the high seas.
We thought we would do some blog catch up. We probably will add pictures when we get home since the internet is really expensive on the ship. We are actually writing this on Word and then will copy and paste.
Neither of us remember what the last blog entry was so we will briefly say that the remainder of our stay in London was great. The day after saw “The Mousetrap,” we moved out of the apartment and into the Sofitel Hotel at Heathrow. We did this because on Monday we had to meet our Princess bus to Southampton. Alan went into London on the tube for a few hours and went to the Tate Modern museum, and then walking along the Thames.
I stayed in the room and read and did my favorite thing, napping! The next morning, we took a taxi to Terminal 3 and found the waiting area for the bus. The bus ride is a little over two hours, and we got checked in and onto the ship with no problems.
The ship left on time and the first stop was Rotterdam.
Having decided to spend a week next year in Amsterdam, we opted not to bus there but to go see the windmills at Kinderdijk. They are exactly as you would expect and look like they are straight out of a children’s book. We highly recommend going to see them.
We then had our first at sea day. This gave us time to really explore the ship and because comfortable on it. This is a huge ship, 19 stories high, and carries about 3200 people, I think that includes the crew. At no point, so far, have we felt overwhelmed by the size of the ship nor the number of people. To say the least, this is a very pleasant surprise, as we were worried about that. Princess Line is very efficient in moving people on and off the ship and in and out of venues.
The third day of the cruise was spent in Bergen, Norway. We had a 7 ½ hour tour of Hardangerfjord and also the Holdhus Old Church. Hardangerfjord was beautiful and we visited our first large waterfall, Steinsdalsfossen. The tour was a great introduction to the fjords.
The next day we were in Flamm, Norway and had one of the best tours we ever have had. We cruised on the Nærøyfjord. It was spectacular, the weather was perfect, there were waterfalls everywhere, and we absolutely loved it.
The fourth day of the cruise was spent waiting to be able to get off in the Shetland Islands in Scotland. We were supposed to go to the Jarlshof Ruins and they are supposed to be some of the best Bronze Age ruins in Europe. Alas, the seas were too rough for us to tender into Lerwick and so no one made it off the ship.
The next day was an at sea day and that night the seas were so rough that everyone including the crew was talking about it the next morning. We did arrive safely in Akureyri, Iceland, and even with rainy, cold weather, had a great tour that included Dimmuborgir (very strange lava formations), Namaskard (boiling mud pots), and Godafoss, a stunning waterfall. Walking around in the rain and wind was worth it to see these.
We then journeyed that night up to the Arctic Circle and then landed in Isafjordur, Iceland which is on the West Fjords peninsula. The weather was spectacular and we had a great tour of Skrúdur, a botanical garden and Flateyri, an absolutely charming fishing village, both located on the northern shore of Dýrafjördur. Between the weather and a great guide, this was a wonderful day. Our guide, Ole, also pointed out the dirt soccer fields that are flooded for the annual Swamp Soccer competition, which takes place in calf deep mud.
We continued onto Reykjavik and, again, ran into terrible weather, cold and rainy. That didn’t stop us from enjoying an 8 ½ hour tour around the “Golden Circle.” First stop was a geothermal plant, Hellisheidi Power Plant. We think we remember the guide telling us that 83% of the energy in Iceland comes from geothermal sources. This leads to very low electric, heating and hot water bills. We then went to a large geyser field (Alan says the town it is near is Geysir, and yes, we use the Icelandic word in English). The largest geyser there is called Strokkur and it explodes every few minutes.
Here we also ate lunch, a typical Icelandic meal of poached salmon and potatoes with some barley thrown in for good luck. After walking around the geysers and mud fields (yes, in the rain and cold), we continued to Gullfoss (Gold Waterfall). There, we saw the waterfall from both the top and the bottom, and it is, to say the least, impressive!
Our journey continued to Thingvellir National Park. It’s here that the European and American tectonic plates meet. There are huge lava formations and Alan hiked amongst them (I stayed warm in the bus!). Here, too, Iceland’s first Parliament, the Althing, met beginning in 930 A.D. The park also contains Thingvallavatn, Iceland’s largest natural lake.
We then (still in the rain and cold) continued back into Reykjavik to see the Pearl, a large domed building containing a rotating restaurant and covering huge water tanks for storing geothermal energy.
Back late to the ship, only to find we weren’t leaving.
That catches everyone up to now. Today is my birthday and I was greeted this morning by balloons and a large sign on my cabin door wishing me a happy birthday from Princess. Then we spent 3 hours doing our laundry before going to get some breakfast.
We promise we will add pictures when we get home.