The ferry from Torshavn pulled out of port and in an unexpected sightseeing bonus headed right through the islands before reaching the open sea. It was too cold to be out on deck for too long, but the scenery was absolutely stunning as we passed between the various islands.
The sailing was smooth, with quite a swell but nothing like the rough conditions of the trip from Denmark. We both felt fine, which was quite a relief as we have 32 days on a ship coming up later in the trip!
We arrived in Iceland – at Seydisfjordour to be exact – at 6 in the morning, but weren’t allowed to disembark until the customs officials arrived from the capital Reykjavik, the other side of the country. Apparently, they fly over once a week to do this international arrival.
So you’d have thought they’d do more than welcome you to Iceland, express disbelief that you are here in winter, and point you in the direction of tourist information. But that’s exactly what the immigration/customs official did. I didn’t even realise he was an official until he’d taken us through to tourist information and wished us a nice stay. No passport check, no bags checked… just a smile. Nice.
Mind you, disembarking from the ferry was more adventurous than it needed to be. It was pitch black, and deep snow outside. We were told over the tannoy that foot passengers (us, basically, as the other few passengers had cars or trucks) would have to disembark from car deck three, as they were not going to use the gangway. At 9am the woman in charge removed the padlocked chain that ran across the stairs down to the car decks, and Lauren and I descended to deck 3, into the bowels of the ship. The deck was completely empty, apart from the odd pool of greasy water, but the back was open, so we ventured carefully out to the ramp. A guy in an orange boiler suit appeared and pointed out a light down the far end of the quay, and told us to head for it.
So off we tottered, backpacks on, ice and snow at our feet, in the biting wind and almost complete darkness of an Icelandic winter morning.
It occurred to me that with the weight of the backpack, if I slipped I wasn’t getting up again.
Lauren was so excited to see real proper deep snow that she was prancing about in it, despite having a pretty heavy bag herself. I kept turning round to find she was eating it, or throwing a snowball, or just turning her head upwards and enjoying it landing on her face. In the end I made her walk in front, disguising this as ‘clearing a path’. They were still unloading some enormous trucks and I didn’t fancy her chances of being seen as one of them pulled away.
Anyway, eventually we met happy customs guy, then happy tourist information guy, who pointed us in the direction of the hostel I’d booked, luckily only a few hundred metres from the ship. The ship docks at this village, basically at the very end of a very long fjord, and looks ridiculously oversized compared to the handful of coloured houses and few streetlights. There’s no room to turn round so I guess it backs out for a good way back to sea.
The place we are currently staying is tiny– the supermarket is the size of a minimarket and also functions as a post office, the postwoman comes in for a cup of coffee, and a guy with a JCB drives up and down all day clearing roads as the snow just keeps on coming. There’s a small church, a primary school where all the kids wear snowsuits and play outside even in minus 2, a petrol station with one pump, and a couple of closed guesthouses. I hear rumours of a café but we haven’t found it.
Lauren has been playing out a lot in the snow, her waterproofs thankfully keeping up with the weather, and yesterday we built a ‘snowlar bear’ together.
We have been making good progress on her schooling and I’ve been tying up a few loose ends of our travel plans. I woke up every couple of hours last night to try to see the lights, but its been thick cloud cover and snow since we arrived.
In theory, we fly out of the nearest town in a couple of days, to the bright lights of Reykjavik, but I’ve been told the mountain pass between us and the town may be blocked “but don’t panic yet”.
So, I’m not panicking. yet. 🙂