At each of the port calls on this cruise, Viking offered several optional excursions above and beyond an included tour. Picking wasn’t always easy with so many good choices. During our first full day in Iceland during our August 2021 cruise, we chose to go on separate excursions departing from our ship that had remained in port in Reykjavik. I chose the Iceland Through the Lens photography excursion, and Tracey picked the Golden Circle excursion.
The photography excursion lasted nearly seven hours, including lunch, and visited a variety of locations.
First stop on the photo shoot? Something unexpected: wooden racks filled not with drying cod, but with cod carcasses that had already been filleted, leaving just the heads and bones. After drying, they were destined for Africa where they would be reconstituted as a soup ingredient, with every bit of the lingering flesh (eyeballs and all) plucked off the bones. I thought that they were probably more interesting from a photographic standpoint than from a culinary perspective:
Our next stop was at Kleifarvatn, a large lake on the Reykjanes Peninsula that has no rivers feeding it. It all comes from the surrounding porous lava rocks. Icelandic legend has it that a mythical whale-like beast lives in its waters. We did not spot the local version of the Loch Ness monster swimming, but there was this rather suggestive rock formation on the lake’s shore:
Icelandic scenery is a draw not just for photographers, but also for film (two James Bond movies) and television (e.g., Game of Thrones). At this stop we photographed from inside the cave that was used as a hideout for a neo-Nazi fugitive in the second season of the Icelandic mystery series, Trapped, which is on Netflix:
The seafood restaurant Bryggjan Grindavik (at Grindavik harbor), where we had an awesome lunch of lobster soup, is housed in a building that started out (and continues to be used in part) for fishing net making business. I’ve also seen it featured in a TV series, though now I’m not sure if it was in Trapped or in the HBO series The Flight Attendant:
Another stop at Reykjanestá or Valahnúkamöl at the tip of the Reykjanes Peninsula was definitely featured in a scene from The Flight Attendant, including a helicopter taking off in front of the lighthouse:
The bronze sculpture on the right is a memorial to the flightless Great Auk that was hunted to extinction back in 1844, with the last two specimens killed on an island 10 miles offshore from this location.
Geothermal features including colorful mud pots and dramatic geysers were part of both our tours. (The geothermal power generating plant in the distance of the left hand side of the steam cloud photo below was a prominently featured in the second season of Trapped.)
Much of the Icelandic landscape in the area is covered in rugged lava flows, some more recent and still starkly black, but it eventually begins to soften under a covering of moss and wild flowers:
Another geologic feature we visited was the growing rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, which meet in Iceland:
There are so many beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. One of the bigger and more dramatic of these is Gullfoss, or Golden Falls:
One last thing; it turns out that not all the wildlife in Iceland is necessarily all that wild. Pictured here is a raven hanging around a tourist location hoping for a handout of food: