Bouncy seas, driving in a river, Borg beer, funny Liars

Wednesday, July 1: Yesterday was our shortened stop in Reykjavik. We arrived just before noon and docked at the main cruise ship dock near the city. Also at the dock were Celebrity Eclipse and the old Marco Polo. The journey from Greenland (after the iceberg incident) later on Sunday and Monday included some rough seas, with some folks not feeling well and a few injuries occurring, including a gentleman who broke his arm falling in the Horizons lounge. The Horizons lounge is on deck 10 forward and it certainly gets the brunt of the motion. We both slept well through the motion and feel fine, but walking can be difficult.

We signed up for a Super 4X4 trip in Reykjavik. There were four jacked-up vehicles with 48-inch tires in our convoy, with 10-12 persons per vehicle. The convoy’s first stop was a low hill just outside the city that had a pretty steep 4WD trail to the top. Our driver had two rules on-board : 1) wear your seatbelt and, 2) no screaming. After the stop at the top of the hill with views of the town, we headed east on dirt and secondary paved roads through dramatic volcanic landscapes to another viewpoint overlooking Thingvallavtn lake. We saw the north side of this lake in 2013 on our self-drive Golden Circle tour. The lake, the largest in Iceland, is filled with from water brought up from the depths of the earth in this rift valley. The North American and Eurasian tectonic plates collide in this location, creating the conditions for the lake (and lots of earthquakes and volcanoes). The water is very cold and extremely clear, with visibility approaching 300 feet in some places. They have also discovered a new species of crustacean in these waters recently, which is fascinating. Nearby was a geothermal plant (hot water extraction) and we followed the pipeline along the road for a long distance.

Our convoy raced to the south, passing the town of Selfoss. In 2013, we drove through here and saw the big volcanoes to the southeast; the conditions yesterday were cloudier, but you could see the bottoms of Hekla and the unpronounceable volcano E+15 (E with 15 letters after it, also known as Eyjafjallajökull). Of course, this latter volcano was the one creating air traffic havoc in 2010 after it erupted with a huge cloud of ash. We stopped at another town nearby for a restroom break, then headed towards Reykjavik for our last 4WD adventure. The convoy followed a stream for a while, which was a lot of fun driving fast through the shallow water; the trail then emerged near some geothermal bores (they put a geodesic dome over the drill bore location) and a new pipeline was going in. The low-cost geothermal energy in Iceland is a blessing for the residents, although they do have to contend with the constant hazards of unexpected steam vents, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. The tour was fun, but it was a lot of sitting on the vehicle while driving across the countryside; the four-wheeling was not too rigorous and the driving through the stream was a lot of fun.

The Super 4X4 drivers dropped all the passengers off in downtown Reykjavik near the Harpa opera house (a shuttle bus from that location would take us back to the ship). Steve and I walked over to the pedestrian district nearby, near the hotel we stayed at for one night in 2013, and found an outdoor bar that was sheltered from a nasty wind that had sprung up and tried the local beer (Borg), which was quite good. I haven’t liked beer for a long time, but I have enjoyed the beers on this trip. After our beer, we then walked back to the Harpa and caught the bus back to the ship.

Last night we went to the show (the first one we’ve seen on this cruise). It was called “Liars Club”, which had a panel including Ray Carr, our cruise director, the two guest lecturers from the UK and one of the entertainers. Each panel member had to come up with definitions to very obscure (and funny-sounding) words. The highlight was when the word was “Pisonia” and Ray went into a long-winded explanation of how this word originated in Nuuk, Greenland and means “I’m sorry, have a nice day”. He claimed he learned the word there and was using it in all sincerity when listening to the hundreds of complaints about our cruise itinerary changes (just look at the word and think how it would be pronounced). The audience was in stitches. The actual definition of Pisonia is that is a thorny flowering shrub (one of the lecturers got it right, but everyone was laughing too hard to notice). Ray is probably the best CD we have had on an Oceania cruise. He has a very witty and dry sense of humor and really does a great job with the team trivia.

So now we have two days at sea again on our way to Liverpool and there is quite a bit of sea motion again today. Everyone is a zombie from all of the days at sea and then will have to wake up for three ports in a row on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We both feel VERY rested and have probably slept more than we should, but, quite frankly, that’s not what we expected to do on a very expensive cruise vacation. We have our final day at sea next Monday, then disembark very early on Tuesday for the transfer back to Heathrow. Oh, I do have to say the food has been quite good in general, with only a couple of misses (Polo Grill, a panini sandwich yesterday). Service is also excellent.

More from Liverpool, Belfast and Dublin (provided there aren’t any icebergs or other surprises ahead of us, Lord forbid).

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