Published: July 3rd 2009July 1st 2009
Today is Canada Day back home. Joshua and Benjamin are lamenting the fact that they will not get to see fireworks. We get a relatively slow start to the day, and are only ready to head out some time after 11.
Our thought for the day is to walk to the downtown park of Reykjavik and find the tourism office. We would like to do some whale watching while we are here, having passed up the opportunity when we were in New Zealand.
The route to the downtown turns out to be fairly easy, following a single road. Reykjavik seems quite upscale, almost like a ski resort town. It has lots of restaurants and stores selling souvenirs as well as art galleries.
We find the tourism office quite easily. I know that there is more than one whale tour company, so I ask them and they recommend the same one that our apartment manager has recommended. As it turns out, there is a 1 pm tour which we can make, so we book it.
The walk to the docks takes up further into the the main part of the city. We find the whale tour office without
much trouble and, after picking up our tickets, board the a boat with a large hanging whale skeleton on it, which serves at their reception centre. From the lower level of this boat we board our tour boat, which it docked next to it.
Looking around the harbour, you can see that Iceland is hugely tied to the sea. Goods come into the country this way, and for much of its existence, the sea was the soul source of a livelihood.
The boat we are on is quite large, with multiple viewing decks. Joshua, Evy and I go up to the highest deck, while Benjamin opts to sit down below. After a short while the boat, which is now quite full, leaves the dock.
Seeing Reykjavik from the water, it is actually a fair sized city. In fact, 60 % of the people in Iceland live here. It has some taller office buildings, but is generally not as built up as other cities, instead stretching along the shoreline for some distance.
Our first stop is a place they call Puffin Island. Having missed the opportunity to see Puffins in Britain, I am glad to finally be
seeing some. The tour guide is quite good, and she explains a bit about the Puffins as the boat approaches the side of the island. It is difficult to see these comical birds up close from this distance, but Joshua and I go down to the bow and manage to zoom in and get some good photos.
After a short stop at Puffin Island, we head back out to see and travel for about 40 minutes to the whale feeding grounds. Not long after this, we spot our first Minke whale.
Despite photos of whales leaping out of the water on their brochure, what you really see of these whales most of the time is just the dorsal fin and the blow hole. When the whales come up to breath, the do a series of shallow dives before finally doing back down to the depths again to feed. Because of this, once you have seen one you tend to see them about every minute or two for a few minutes before they are gone for good.
Taking photos of these whales is quite tricky, because you never know quite when or where they will be coming up.
I took lots of photos that were mostly water, but did get a few with whales in them.
In the end, we saw three different whales in different places. It was quite cold up on the deck with the wind blowing, and by the time we had finished whale watching, all of us were cold. We ate our packed lunch down on the main level and drank hot chocolate to try to warm up during the 45 minute ride back to Reykjavik.
Back in Reykjavik, we took our time making our way home, stopping at the shops along the way. We stopped at a supermarket (a bit better prices than the one near us) and bought food for dinner.
Back at our apartment we had dinner. After dinner we called the apartment manager and got him to give us a cable to get our tv working. Most of the tv shows here are in English, with subtitles in Icelandic so it was easy enough to find things to watch. Evy and I continued to post the blog, hoping to get it up to date.
There are more photos below