Chapter 1

Our 67 day Expedition Cruise


Saturday - Sunday 18-19 Sept

We left Boston after days of frenetic activity at home- it's one thing to leave home for 2½ months and quite another to leave it to another resident. Arriving in Iceland at 6:00 am (where one goes through the complete security screening on arrival), we found the bus to Reykjavik, since there wasn't one to the Blue Lagoon for several hours. Left our bags at reception, bought the next bus tour to Blue Lagoon, and went out front to wait at the appointed time. Got on the wrong bus once, tried to get on another wrong bus; 10 minutes before our tour was scheduled to leave the transfer station... still no bus! An inauspicious beginning to a major adventure (about which we still had very little concrete information), to say the least. Eventually all connections were made and the result was well worth it: a nice long soak in the mineral hot springs, a couple of trips into the saunas and steam rooms… Ahhh. (Note to selves after waiting in very long line: sometimes it is better to simply dive in and do rather than taking time to get the lay of the land.)



A wander around town after our return and hotel check in revealed... Tada! the MV Fram already in port. And standing in the little shack at the entry to the pier just happened to be Jørn, our expedition leader of the cruise. He immediately signed us up for the Golden Circle pre-cruise excursion (on Tuesday instead of Monday, as we had thought) with added bonus: pick up at the hotel (with luggage) and delivery to the ship-another problem solved. That out of the way, we were ready to sleep and then do some other exploring.




Monday 17 Sept
We got on the grand Reykjavik tour in the rain. Highlights included: Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland, (which is not the cathedral, however); Perlan, offering wonderful views and much of the geothermal heating for the city and Asmundarsafn,

the Asmundur Sveinsson Sculpture museum.

This museum, the artist's house, was a fascinating bit of architecture, capitalizing on the look, feel and materials of its surroundings, I enjoyed the sculptures; the later works had a definite theme of line and space that was distinctly sexual, which I found amusing. Some of his early works were very reminiscent of Vigeland, the famous Norwegian sculptor.


This excursion also took us through downtown Reykjavik, with its Parliament building, Lutheran and Catholic cathedrals and shopping district.




We were shown the house of the famous Reagan/Gorbachev meetings in 1986, meetings hailed as the "beginning of the end of the Cold War". Our afternoon was spent with a wander back downtown, including a visit to the Hand Knitting Association of Iceland, where - way in the back, past all the hand knit sweaters, hats and mittens - I found actual yarn: bought a few skeins of Alafoss Lopi - who knows - maybe someone will need a warm hat or socks on this trip : )

Dinner and massages at the hotel wrapped up our day. Oh yes, a word about this hotel (we are becoming so very spoiled!) - when I first stepped off the elevator on the 5th floor, the hallway was bright and sunny- and then our door opened onto a hardwood floor, bright sunlight from full windows (with some that even opened!), and a view of the mountains. You can't ask for much more.


Tuesday 18 Sept
After yesterday's miserably cold, wet & windy weather, we assembled outside for our 8:30 pickup for our Golden Circle Tour, meeting a couple of other passengers in the process. Feeling a bit of déjà vu when the bus hadn't come by 8:50, we checked with the desk and were assured that it was on its way. The surprises began shortly.

We were on a small bus with only 8 other passengers plus Natasha, our Assistant Expedition Leader. This was a second sign that we were lucky to have made it into the pre-cruise excursion. Had we booked the tour ourselves, we would have been on a BIG tour bus, most likely full. During the course of the day we also discovered that Fram would be carrying only 135 passengers, rather than the 318 it was built for (105 would be doing pole to-pole). Great excitement reigned all around.

What a wonderful day! We skipped from stop to stop between rain showers. Places visited included:


the original site of the oldest parliament in the world;

it is also located on the Great Atlantic rift,

the juncture of 2 tectonic plates.

(North America and Europe)

Next stop was Geysir, with its active geothermal springs. Then we went to





Gullfoss waterfall.

On we went to Skalholt, with its beautiful church, built on the same foundation as the previous three.

The altar hanging was a wonderful tapestry that looked like mosaic work.


A little further we stopped at Kerig, a volcanic crater.

The high school students who were there were behaving

as all adolescents do, threatening to throw each other over the edge.





We were soon back on the bus headed for our last stop,
Adam and Eve, in Hafnarfjorder. Here we found, in addition to the usual tourist souvenir shop, a beautiful tropical greenhouse heated by steam. We felt right at home, having just finished installation of a geothermal heating system at home.

Back in Reykjavik, we arrived at the ship, seemingly alone. Somehow, between the time the bus drove past the ship, turned around and got back to the entrance, another 2 dozen people had materialized, none with luggage. We dragged our own bags up the brow, not catching sight of anyone to help; when we arrived on the ship in the midst of the mob, all our bags were shoved through an x-ray machine.

Then we waited in line, trying to stay calm, get our bags out of the way, and still get checked in. Next surprise... room 616? That wasn't the one we had reserved. Ohmigoodness - we had a porthole! Instant (and apparently free) upgrade!

So... on board at last. For us it was first things first, a beer in the bar, then an explore of the ship. Only then is it time to unpack: this is home for the next two months - cozy. Originally scheduled for 5:00, then 7:00, then 9:00, our departure was delayed several times as we waited for one last cargo (i.e., food!) delivery. We finally gave up and went to bed.


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