Akureyri, Iceland

Today was the
last of our ports in Iceland. Tomorrow is a sea day, which I am actually
looking forward to because it means I can sleep late! This twenty-four hour
sunlight thing is confusing me. Then it’s off to two ports in Scotland.

We went to Akureyri
today. Akureyri was a small Viking settlement that was established in the 9th
century, but the town was officially charted in 1786. The population of
Akureyri is 17,754 people. The climate of Akureyri consists of Spring/Summer
highs in the 50s, and lows in the 40s/30s. It’s a very cloudy place, averaging
1047 hours of sunlight per year… The Cullens from Twilight probably would’ve
fit in nicely in Akureyri.

Akureyri is the
4th largest city in Iceland. It’s huddled at the end of the
Eyajafjordur and surrounded by mountains. It’s 37 miles from the Arctic Circle,
and from September to April, it has some of the most spectacular Northern
Lights… Unfortunately we visited in June :/ when it’s 24 hours of sunlight.

We had to wake
up early for our tour, which lasted for the entire time we were in port here.
After a struggle to get out of bed, we went up to have some breakfast at the
buffet. I had sausage, mango rice pudding, which was actually pretty good,
picked at some eggs, and ate some fruit. After two cups of coffee, which barely
woke me up, it was time for our tour.

We went to
Godafoss Falls, and the Myvatn Nature Baths.
Our tour guide was really great. She told us all sorts of interesting
facts about Iceland. Their education is fascinating. Iceland has a 99% literacy
rate. They’re required to go to school from the age of 6 to 16, as the children
get older; they have the option to go to a boarding school because in winter,
when Iceland gets snow, the trek back and forth can be tiring. They’re required
to learn two languages: English and Dutch, then as they get to high school,
they have to learn another language, usually Spanish or French, so including
Icelandic, by the time students graduate, they are fluent in 4 languages, which
is really impressive to me.

There were
mountain sheep all over Akureyri. Apparently Icelanders really use sheep, and
they use every part of the sheep. They use its wool for clothes, and they eat
every part of their body, including brains and balls, and even their horns are
used for things. Farmers raise sheep in the winter months, and then when the
warmer months start, Farmers release the sheep into the wilderness.  There were sheep everywhere. We would drive
on the mountain roads, and just see sheep on all sides of the road, and the
sheep came in lots of colors… There were brown sheep, black sheep, and white
sheep.

There is also no
army in Iceland. It does not have an army, a navy, or an air force. Iceland
only has the coast guard, and they’re primarily responsible for watching the
sea, and for boat safety. If an Icelander wants to serve in the military, they
can join the Norwegian army according to an agreement between the two
countries.

As we left the
port in Akureyri, it was a very gray and foggy day, and also cold. But once we
drove into the mountains, the weather cleared up and it was gorgeous and sunny
out. It was a beautiful drive. There were green fields everywhere, snow-covered
cliffs; glacier cut rivers, waterfalls, lava sculptures…  It reminded me of a cross between Yellowstone
National Park and Grand Teton National Park, from when Justin and I drove
through them, last summer.

Godafoss Water
fall translates to “The Waterfall of the Gods.” It was beautiful.  It sort of reminded me of Niagara Falls. As I
was walking down a rocky hill to take photos from another angle, I tripped on
some rocks and fell on my ankle, knee, and hand. A nice man, who was on the
tour, asked me if I was okay, and helped me up, I was fine. I mean my ankle
hurt, and my hand was missing some skin, and I ripped my pants a little bit,
and I could feel my knee bleeding under my pants. But I was mostly okay.
Nothing serious. I’m a complete klutz, of course, I would fall. It was totally
worth it for the pictures I took.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the falls,
we drove to Myvatn Nature Baths. I didn’t go in the baths. I intended to go in
the baths, but didn’t think salty water with chemicals would feel good on my
freshly cut knee, so I didn’t go. My hand was starting to swell by then, I’m
sure it’ll be pretty colors tomorrow, but it’s my left hand, and I’m a righty,
so it’s not really a big deal , but the nice people working at the baths gave
me a bag of ice, a washcloth, Band-Aids, and some Neosporin so I could clean my
cut knee.  So after I cleaned my knee,
which is cut pretty badly, but I mean it’s nothing I would need stitches for or
anything like that.  It’ll heal and leave
a faint scar or something, which is fine, I sat with my mother, and this older
couple at a table, while I iced my hand, and I called my dad and Justin. It’ll
be the last time I get to talk to them till I get to Scotland.

We were at the
baths for about an hour before we had to head back.  It was a beautiful day out, it was maybe in
the mid 50s, but in the sun it felt hotter, and it was nice to just sit outside
and relax. I also bought some postcards and a new magnet for my collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we got back
to Akureyri, we immediately had to get on the ship because it was time to leave
the port. Overall, I really liked Akureyri. I still think Isafjordur was my favorite
port in Iceland, but Akureyri was my second favorite. I probably like Reykjavík
the least because it’s just nothing special. It’s the capital of Iceland, sure,
but that’s all it is, it’s just a city, there’s nothing special or spectacular
about it.  I did enjoy Blue Lagoon, but
it was really a big tourist trap, albeit a fun one, and technically it’s not
actually in Reykjavik. However there was something unique about both Akureyri
and Isafjordur that I’ll remember forever, and I had such unique experiences
there, and they were both just so beautiful and so different than any place in
the United States.

Once we got back
on the ship, I resized my photos from the trip. Then I read Night Circus,
which is one of my favorite books ever, and I watched “Guardians of the Galaxy”
on TV. Then it was dinner time. For dinner I had a fruit plate and a chef
salad, lately the menu has just been too fancy for me. I also had some yummy
ice cream for dessert that my waiter Martin picked out [I told him to surprise
me]. It was vanilla with chocolate shavings. I also got Vesko to bring me a
Shirley Temple, and I asked him to give me extra cherries, and it had like five
cherries in it, which is awesome.  Our
tablemates, Pierre and Martine, also showed up today, so it was a lively
conversation all throughout the meal.

We had to put
our clocks forward another hour. So now I’m six hours ahead of Texas and five
hours ahead of New Jersey, but in reality, it doesn’t really seem to matter
because it always seems like it’s twelve noon outside, since the sun is up
twenty-four hours because we’re in the arctic. I’ve seriously lost all sense of
time.

Like I said
tomorrow is a Sea Day. I’m actually looking forward to it. The past three days
we really fun and I loved seeing places I had never seen before and exploring
them, but I also am looking forward to sleeping in and relaxing. I’ll probably
try to hit the gym tomorrow and hopefully I’ll get some more reading done.

The cruise is
over in 6 days. Then it’s off to Heathrow airport, and we get to fly back to
New Jersey. Now that we’ve finally reached Europe and done the trans-Atlantic
crossing, the cruise has been day after day of new adventure and seeing things
I never thought I would see. And I can’t wait to see Scotland.

And that ends day
11 of the cruise. Today was definitely a highlight of the cruise, and I saw
things I’ve always remember and it was an awesome experience, even if I did
fall at the waterfall and bust my knee and hand. TOTALLY WORTH IT.

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