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Published: July 26th 2011
Tuesday July 26th, 2011
We have traveled west from the coast of Norway following the path of the Norse explorers of old. They were a hardy lot and so the traditionally rough seas of the North Atlantic that we encountered would not have deterred them. It did, however, make a lot of the passengers and quite a few of the crew sick. It has been the roughest seas we have been through since we left Fort Lauderdale last January. The Captain said we encountered 60 mph winds and waves of 15 feet on top of the usual ocean swells. They even put barf bags out all over the ship and handed them out in the Cabaret Lounge during lectures and shows.
Antwerp, Belgium was a modern cosmopolitan city with great architecture and the streets were alive with musicians since we were there on their Independence Day. Bergen, Norway was picturesque, but all the flags were at half mast and the country was in shock from the horrendous attack by the apparent lone wolf gunman in Oslo from the day before. Heading north, we hugged the coast of Norway on our departure to try
to let the storm pass before heading west for the Faroe Islands. They were remote and scenic, but they pale in comparison to the splendor which is eastern Iceland. This morning we arrived off the coast of Iceland in a cloud of fog and haze. With the ships horn warning others of our approach, we cruised into the narrow opening of the Fjord. Almost instantly, the seas around us calmed and as if by magic, the fog lifted for us to behold snow capped peaks and gushing waterfalls. For over an hour we cruised up the Fjord, passing only small farms and lonely fishing boats surrounded by sea gulls. Then, at the end of this tranquil glacier-carved valley, where the rushing river meets the sea, we saw the tiny town of Seydisfjordur. It is hard to believe, but a town of only 700 inhabitants has their own cruise ship dock and it is nice. The water of the Fjord was crystal clear and mirror calm on this picture perfect morning. But, then I noticed small spots of oil on the surface in the middle of this pristine bay. Not to worry, it is not some land based pollution problem, but
simply the residue from a WWII wreck that lays on the bottom 160 feet down. A British tanker was sunk here in 1944 and a very small amount of oil still bubbles to the surface, even after all these years. There is not too much to the town, but it was clean, cute and very easy to walk around and enjoy.
So far, this whole area of the North Sea has been a cool, clean and refreshing reunion with an economy totally dependent on the ocean. These are Maritime Provinces where the people work hard and share a close association with the sea. It is remote and feels removed from the bustle of modern society. As most of the US swelters in one of the hottest summers on record, we are in no rush to return to more southern latitudes.
Wait, what is that on the western horizon? Steady as she goes.
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