Friday, 30 May 2014

Akureyri and Grimsey Island

Akureyri is a pretty town of 18,000 people situated near the end of a long fjord.  As usual the harbour is located right next to the centre of town. It was a perfect day to drive through the Icelandic countryside.  Two motor coaches departed the pier area at 09:00 and headed inland towards Godafoss Falls. Spring time in Iceland means that all of the rivers and streams are swollen to capacity and that means there is lots of water tumbling down the fjord walls.  Beautiful waterfalls seemed to be everywhere but we were headed to one of the most beautiful and famous waterfalls in all of Iceland.

On route we passed through lush green farmland punctuated with old moss covered lavafields.

Godafoss waterfalls did not disappoint.  It is not the tallest of waterfalls but it is in a beautiful setting. We were able to spend more than 45 minutes at the waterfall and were able to follow a path along the river’s edge to a restaurant, café and gift shop where we rejoined our bus. Once back in Akureyri we visited the botanical garden which was rife with luxuriant spring growth.
Female Eider Duck on Nest

In the evening we went to the small but very charming island of Grimsey which is situated smack dab on the middle of the Arctic Circle.  It was wonderful to walk to the outskirts of the small town to the seabird cliffs.  En route you had to pass veritable clouds of Arctic Terns and large flocks of Kittiwakes.  Walking along the cliff edge you could easily see nesting Fulmars, Kittiwakes and the occassional Puffin.  The cliff top was literally riddled with Puffin burrows but it seemed that most of the diminutive birds were at sea or deep within the burrow.

Shortly after our departure from Grimsey we were once again visited by King Neptune who demanded payment for our having crossed the Arctic Circle.  What was the payment?  Ice cold water poured down the back of your neck of course.  Funny how that guy seems to follow us around.

We had a perfect finale to the day when Humpbach Whales were spotted at 23:00.  We stopped the ship to observe these leviathans of the deep.  Behind us we enjoyed a setting sun over Grimsey and in front of us we enjoyed watching several Humpback whales!