Call of the North (12): Whales, birds & blue lagoons

22 July

They say that in Iceland whale watching and whale hunting vessels anchor next to each other in the ports. We tried to identify them, couldn’t though.

Whale hunting is a hot topic in Iceland, highly political and emotional. Together with Norway (don’t know the status of Japan), I think they are the only countries in the world still hunting whales. For “scientific reasons”, they say, and serve whale meat in restaurants. They also say that Minke whales destroy their fishing stock. I wonder if it’s not exactly the other way around, humans destroying the whales’ fishing stock. Anyway, Iceland is supposed to be one of the world’s best whale watching spots, so I went.

Funnily enough, when we boarded the ship, the welcoming person told us “enjoy the hunt”! I wonder if they take tourists to hunts as well…

First stop, Puffin Island. Puffins are a small funny waterbird, like the name, with a big colorful beak, constantly looking for fish.

They are millions around, apparently, and Icelanders eat them.

The coolest sequence was when a puffin was chased by another larger bird, which wanted to steal its prey. The puffin made a great avoiding maneuvre and plunged into the water. Cool stuff.

We went on, towards the whale spotting places. They say wherever birds are gathering to feed,

chances are whales turn up for the same purpose as well. And indeed, it seems that bubble came from a whale.

which eventually surfaced, but I only got a glimpse at its wing

I didn’t take too many pictures, it was wet, cold, rainy, windy, was afraid the camera might get wet and sea water is supposed to be highly corrosive. Whales came, not as spectacularily as last time in Boston, but nice nevertheless. Managed to capture a bit on this movie:

The second part of the day was dedicated to the Blue Lagoon. Lonely Planet says “it is very touristic, but if you don’t go you’ll regret it. Indeed, the incredibly turquise lake in the middle of an empty lava field is really impressive.

38 degrees celsius in the water, 12 degrees outside. No rain. perfect for a bath.

Water is 2/3 salty, 1/3 sweet, with bacteria and specific unique minerals, apparently very healthy. Like the “normal” thermal pools, it is not treated with chlorine, so a strict body hygiene is imposed before bathing.

Since it was the last day in Iceland, I took one more walk in Reykjavik, to say goodbye. With that occasion I saw a scene Hitchcock might have found inspirational for his movie “birds”:

and it became even more intense

The secret was this lady, who was feeding them.

Before you know it, the eagerly expected sejour in Iceland and “surroundings” came to an end. Thank you V. for the idea!

Tomorrow morning, up at 3:30. Because it is time again to follow the

Call of the North.

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