Queen Victoria 7 – Reykjavik

Back to the closed sandwiches again as we approach a soggy Reykjavik, Isafjordur was kind but today Iceland will be cruel due to our ‘Ring of Fire’ excursion planning to take in a tour of the high ground outside of the capital city. The coach due to start out before 9 a.m. with no change in the weather seeming to be happening in our favour.

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The coach left right on time and took a direct route out of the city introducing us to a very rugged and rocky vista which was, as can be seen, mostly enshrouded in a clingy, water filled mist.

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The steaming fumaroles are seen in every direction, meaning no matter which way the wind blows you will get a whiff of sulphur. The pipes carry steam to all built up areas where the heat is used for all buildings and under walkways and roads; avoiding accidents a plenty.

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Seven swans a flying, one ring of fire? And great big crack in the landscape known as a rift, which had been created by an earthquake.  Us tourists even walked along the gap between the ever moving techtonic plates; does that make me sound knowledgeable?

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The next picture shows where those  with money have their summer homes, hello, it’s nearly July, summer houses??

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The sign above warns of the dangers to be found where geothermal activity takes place, not only keep to the path but be aware of the out door cooking pots making use of the free heat. Those with fumaroles on their land are seen to do most cooking this way, we are to eat rolls and cakes produced thus for our lunch today. Looks really tasty in these pots, do you agree?

A more economically friendly thing to do with the steam is to make electricity, we visited a geothermal site where most of the islands power needs were being produced very cheaply. Come on EDF, dig deeper.

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Back in the city mid-afternoon we took in some of the local sights which included a large number of statues and towered buildings. It’s not the wide angle camera making this squarish box look odd, it’s built that way.

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We think we have seen this one with waders on.

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The QV stayed in port overnight and, as we can see the next days journey started in bright sunshine; we want our money back from the ring of wet tour.

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To finish we passed the Elday Rock about fifteen miles south west of Iceland which has an area of over seven acres on its top and an unbelievable population of 16000 pairs of northern gannets, look close at the picture and see if you can find them all.

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Must be off now we have a Faroe way to go.

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Queen Victoria 6 – Isafjordur

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What a difference a day makes? Our second Sunday of this cruise, clear skies, only a gentle breeze and soaring temperatures about to peak at 14 degrees C. No place to park alongside so it was down to getting on shore and back using the lifeboats as tenders; about a hundred passengers at a time. Not that there was so much to see in the town, some were doing excursions and others, like us, hunted souvenirs and admired the colourful landscape.

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The local sculpture showed what a delicate hand can produce when carving look alike waders. The large four chimneyed building behind is the old hospital which has now changed its use to being a library; a scenario that possibly suggests reading keeps you healthy and hospitals are not needed?

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The fully flowering daffodils really did take us by surprise as there had been none seen further north in Akreyri.

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The amount of traffic seen was quite minmal and the two highly polished classic vehicles being admired here had pride of place in the high street. Only a few shops were open, two souvenir shops, a bakers and a few clothes outlets selling hand made woolen sweaters for at least a £100 each; we noted not many were being sold but most of the locals were wearing them.

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QV looked as if it was time to take the brochure photograph so we duly obliged; then we got tenderised returning back on board for our roast beef and all the trimmings.

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When we sailed back out to clear waters the darkening wall approaching at speed made us wonder if the other side of the cloud may not be reached till the day after tomorrow?

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Will we survive this impending deluge, will we come through to clear skies ever again, was Queen Victoria amused?

Queen Victoria 5 – Akureyri

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It was midnight but no sign of the sun, we waited to see if it would peep at us from behind the cloud, but no luck. We lost two hours due to time zones as we crossed from Norway to Iceland but still managed to be awake for our arival at Akureyri. The ship had briefly crossed into the Arctic Circle as our route took us north, didn’t see any swimming polar bears though. The sight of the sea, land and sky sandwich below was our first view of the topless island, getting to look quite strange as we got nearer.

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The glacial patterns etched into the mountainsides coupled with the seemingly endless supply of waterfalls made for a more than impressive landscape to remember; too many pictures the same did you say?

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If you go out in the woods today – Beware the Polar Bears Picnic!

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           Due to the cold taking longer to clear than at home the tulips are still in bloom during June and July. The buildings too reflected a like of  colour in the town.

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But Akureyri  saved the best till last. We had been told by the officer of the watch to be aware that a pod of whales had been seen at the entance to the fjord, the prediction proved correct and here is evidence of that fact; we can go home now.

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The sun drenched line of rock seen here lets us see what was missing from view when we sailed in this morning; I guess it’s time for an open sandwich for supper.

Queen Victoria 4 – Alesund

As we entered the port of Alesund we were not alone; being followed by what appeared to be a ferry of some stature. This ship only stayed in the harbour for half an hour before sailing away; but there was no sail away party to be heard.

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We were intrigued by the building on the top of the hill overlooking the town.

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When zooming in we could see there was a viewing platform for those looking down on the extensive vista; little did we know that over 400 steps later we would be taking advantage of the facility. A feat of ascension achieved without the aid of a defibulator or an ambulance.

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The climb was worth every step, a valuation made plausable when looking at the pictures taken there; especially the selfy.

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And then it was time to go down again, easier than the climb but still a challenge to the calf muscles.

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A few shots to take on the way out to sea and time to say bye bye to Norway. Now for a night – day – night before we are due in Iceland; not that there would be any darkness as we were now fully in the zone for 24/7 daylight and crossing into the Arctic Circle.

 

Queen Victoria 3 – Olden

Yes it is a 4.30 start and although the conditions were not in the least perfect for photography, the results tell the story of this journey inland, with slowly clearing skies, reasonable accurately.

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During the morning P and O’s Arcadia joined us, luckily we were there first as they had to use tenders to offload passengers, we had the only mooring space alongside. We did leave the QV for a short excursion around the surrounding high ground but unfortunately the higher we got the more mist we found.

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Arcadia did leave before us and as the weather was deteriorating most of the good views were disappearing behind the dropping haze. The outward journey was no where near as good for photography so we will end this stopover here and just say that tomorrow in Alesund the weather was much better. Looking back on this part of the voyage we were amazed at the lack of passengers out seeing these sights; those hoping to see things during the afternoon return sailing did not know what they had missed earlier in the day.

Queen Victoria 2 – Bergen

After watching the sun go down we were bathed in a pale twilight that never lessened into darkness, using the curtains in our cabin to be the created night of choice became the norm for nearly two weeks.

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Blue skies and sunshine gave us an entirely different approach to our next port, Norway’s second largest city of Bergen. The original itinerary had us going fifty miles along a fjord to Flam, unfortunately that was changed but we saw more of the Norwegian lifestyle than the landscapes we were expecting.

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We had booked an excursion to tour the city sights and get a cable car to the top of the nearest tallest mountain; the following pictures only hint at the views and the diversity of land and city scape.

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Returning back to the ground floor we had a brief look at some of the sights we had seen from the coach then headed back to the QV which was preparing to move on to Olden. Many residential areas of the city were sited on the waterside of our route back to the open sea.

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 We had been told that there would be an overcast start to the following day’s inland journey up a fjord to Olden, we were also told that meandering would start at 4.30 A.M. If you are awake we will see you then.

Queen Victoria 1- Southampton to Stavanger

Tug boats can also turn full circle within their own length, nicely framed in its own wash though.

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No tugs for us, QV can pull out sideways and be off under its own power, using 2 x 360 degree pods and three bow thrusters. Five cruise ships left that day, we were third in the queue.

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After a night – day – night at sea we get our first sight of Norway in the early morning mist, the images getting clearer as the sun starts to show through the clouds.

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After docking we went for a walk across the city to get an unfettered view of the mountains – a spectacular sight.

 

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Would you let your kids have a steamroller to play with?

Time to get back to the QV and the overnight sailing to Bergen, see you there.

A really hot afternoon 17 degrees!

 

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A few more on deck than when we arrived at 6.30 a.m.