Days 56 and 57, 2023 North Atlantic Adventure
Thursday and Friday, July 6 and 7, 2023; Akureyri and Isafjorður, Iceland.
There may be as many as 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland. Many are just a trickle – although perhaps a very long trickle – down a mountainside. A few weeks ago in Seyðisfjörður I counted more than a dozen that I could see from the ship’s Crow’s Nest.
Then there are the big ones, and it is hard to find a tour in the major ports of Iceland that don’t include these falls. In 2019 I admired Goðafoss out of Akureyri and Gullfoss and Faxi on the Golden Circle tour from Reykjovik. Today I added Dynjandi, also known as Fjalfoss, to the list. (Yes, “foss” means falls.)
Dynjandi is about an hour’s drive from our port of Isafjorður in the Westfjords, or the western peninsula of Iceland. Most tours from here take in other sites along the way, making for an all-day tour. Instead I organized a private tour that simply drove to the falls and back. I really admire all my fellow cruisers who put together private tours – it is more work than I usually realize. Today’s tour was made more complex by the fact that we had almost 40 people and it was a tender port. So getting everyone off the ship early took a lot of planning. Maybe sometime I will blog about the lessons I have learned in organizing private tours.
The beauty of Dynjandi made it worthwhile. As we made the final turn along the coast road, the giant waterfall at the top of a hill burst into view. My only regret is that for maximum effect, it needed the afternoon sunlight, not the backlighting of the morning.
We had an hour at the site – enough time for two energetic people in our group to scramble to the top. Most of us followed the paved path and then a dirt and rock path about a third of the way. After my April knee injury, I still don’t have full confidence in walking downhill on rocks, so I stopped to sketch. Sketching water is not easy, so my pen and ink drawing doesn’t have any detail. I’ll tackle the paint later. The falls are actually a series of falls, most with their own names.
Our journey took us through two tunnels – one six kilometers long, with another highway branching off along the way. The entire Westfjords only has a little more than 7,000 people, so the commitment to build these tunnels is remarkable. Before the tunnels it took two hours longer to get to the falls, and many residents were totally isolated in the winter.
When we left the tunnels, we passed stunning fjords and drove through fields of lupines, which of course reminded me of their Texas bluebonnet relatives.
I didn’t make the same mistake I made two weeks ago in Isafjorður, when I didn’t stop at the local brewery (my map app erroneously said it was closed till evening). In 2019 I enjoyed a flight of beer at Dokkan Brugghús, and today I enjoyed another just as much.
Yesterday we made a repeat stop in Akureyri on Iceland’s northern coast. Two weeks ago I climbed the long stairway to the church and then another hill to the botanical garden. I thought I might return, but was shocked when I rounded the corner toward the church and saw the stairway gone. It was replaced by heavy earth-moving equipment. I could have found another route, but decided to just stay in town.
My primary objective was to purchase a cardboard globe I had seen at a bookstore in town. And bingo! In the two weeks since I initially saw it, the globe went on sale. Score! As the stateroom walls on the Zuiderdam are not magnetic, I can’t track our progress easily on a wall map. So I thought I would give this one a try with pushpins. I can fold it flat for travel.
I’m still captivated by Akureyri’s stoplights, with heart-shaped red lights. I don’t know why more places don’t adopt this feature. It puts a smile on my face.
Our first stop on this three-week segment was in Måløy, Norway, on Monday. The small town doesn’t see many cruise ships. About the time we could go ashore, the rain began and lasted much of the morning. It appeared to be a light rain, but it was enough of an inconvenience that I stayed on board, doing more research on future cruise ports and catching up on painting my sketches. Friends enjoyed their tour to the West Cape, the westmost point in Norway. Perhaps someday I will regret not going ashore, but I’m okay with the decision for now.
I don’t go to the Main Stage entertainment often, but I’m sure glad I went earlier in the week and again tonight to see The Dutch Tenors. This is the high-quality entertainment of days gone past on Holland America. The three tenors and one baritone put on great shows. When not performing they mingled with passengers around the ship. I hope Holland America will add them to the rotation for the grand world cruise.