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To Reykjavík i Go – Day Six

4 October, 2014

There were four things I had really wanted to see in Iceland – the golden circle, the football, the northern lights and whales in the sea. The first two were ticked off on day five, the sky had been full of clouds or rain since I arrived so the third hadn’t happened yet, but day six I had a whale watching tour booked.

The plan was to sail out from Rekyjavík to where the bay meets the Atlantic and, well, watch the whales. But as the sea was rough around Reykjavík we were bussed to Hafnarfjörður where the boat was waiting for us. As the bus trundled through the town, I started to get a bit nervous. I’m not a fan of boats, I don’t get sick but I don’t like the rocking and rolling. Plus I can’t ignore the fact that the boat is on water and if I fall in or the boat springs a leak, death will surely follow. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t sat on the bus thinking “I’m going to die” but I was a little uneasy.

But I tried to put all this out of my mind as I embarked, secured a spot where I could hold onto a bench without being too near the edge, and did my coat up.

The weather was brighter than it had been all week and a rainbow settled over Hafnarfjörður as we set sail.

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We headed out into the bay, and I really had to work hard to roll with the waves and not fall over, but after a few minutes I relaxed into it. Not relaxed enough to lean over the side to take pictures like some passengers, but from my safe spot I enjoyed the views of the mountains either side of us, the town receding, Reykjavík in the distance. There is a joke that if you don’t like the weather in Iceland then just wait five minutes and it will change, and looking up at the sky over the bay, we could see clouds gathering in different bunches (is that the right word?), some black and raining and some white and fluffy, and sunny spaces in between. A fascinating snapshot of how fluid the weather can be on this volcanic rock in the middle of the Atlantic.

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The trip out to the edge of the bay was about an hour, during which the weather changed several times, and the boat bounced up and down on the surf, the bow rising and dipping with each wave. And then we slowed, and Megan the boat guide said we should all keep a look out as the whales could appear anywhere. She was also in radio contact with other whale watching boats, some of whom had seen whales in the area so we knew where to look. Suddenly, she shouted in excitement – she thought she had seen a whale breach the surface and we turned chugged that way for a closer look. And in this manner – stop, search, move along, stop, search – we passed a couple of hours zigzagging across the bay chasing a potential sighting, or following the directions of another boat which had been watching a whale, but unfortunately without seeing a single whale.

I enjoyed seeing the mountains and shoreline and the changing weather, but I very much didn’t enjoy the way the boat bounced around on the waves. I hadn’t minded it for the first hour or so and it wasn’t constant, but I came to dread every change in our course as I knew we would have to sail across the direction of the surf and I would have to hold on tight. In the teeth of a freezing wind. Again.

So overall, this wasn’t an enormous success. It wasn’t the fault of the boat. It wasn’t the fault of the whales. It was just unlucky. Maybe if we had seen a whale or two I would have felt differently, but the discomfort of being on the boat was just too much for me. But I did manage a few half-decent photos.

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It was time to eat by the time we got back – we docked in Reykjavík so we didn’t need to take the bus again – and the bobbing about hadn’t spoiled my appetite so I decided to treat myself to a proper meal out. Ideally I would have tried the Icelandic cuisine – why go all that way and not try the local delicacies? – but as I don’t eat meat and traditional Icelandic cuisine involves lamb or fish, these were off limits. So instead I went to the Gandhi Indian restaurant I had read good reviews about. It didn’t disappoint, a wonderful tasty curry, in theory with unlimited dal and rice but I had so much food I didn’t need more. In fact the waitress was impressed that I had cleared my plate!

After that, back to the hostel for a few beers, and to pack my bag. I only had one more full day in Iceland, and that would be on a long tour, so this would be my only chance to see if all the presents I had bought would fit in my backpack. They did. The fact I had to go home soon was looming closer.

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4 Comments
  1. Gorgeous photos. Too bad about the whales, but those rainbows were lovely.

    • With the constant changes in the weather there were rainbows most of the afternoon . It’s not often I see a complete arc of a rainbow but I did a few times that day

  2. I went out on a boat to see porpoises in Scarborough last month and didn’t see any, it is frustrating in one respect but better than in some of the Mediterranean areas where they feed they to encourage them to come up to the boats, I have been lucky enough to see dolphins in the wild they were breathtaking and it was a very spiritual experience in some ways, would love to see whales though

    • The company I went with were eager to say they never feed and encourage just for tourists and they lobby parliament against the small whaling trade that still goes on in Iceland.
      Im jealous of your dolphin trip! They’re such a beautiful species

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