Saturday, June 22, 2013

Day 5: Grimsey

Today was one of the days we'd planned our drive around Iceland around; we'd wanted to be at the Arctic Circle on June 21st, so Ed and I booked a flight on a Twin Otter (so called because, I suspect, it's powered by otter) to the island of Grimsey, where, conveniently, our guesthouse was right next to the airport. (There was a snafu, though: The lady who'd taken our reservation had neglected to put our name in their reservation book, so we stayed at another guesthouse a mile and a quarter down the road.)

When we landed, we were told that "so many people" were coming today that at least one extra flight was arriving today as well, and that we should be at the airport by 1:30 p.m. (Our flight departed at 2:15 p.m.) It's a very short flight from Akuryeri to Grimsey, about half an hour. The cockpit was open - there wasn't even a curtain - and no security to speak of at the airport, nor much on the plane ("Wear your seatbelts, turn off your electronics, and have a good flight!").

It's a small island, about two square miles, and easy enough to walk from one end of the island to the other; there are hiking trails all over the place. We didn't go from one tip to the other, but did walk most of its length several times.

It's beautiful; lots of open fields and rocks that lead right up to the ocean.

One of issues we encountered involved avoiding the birds that were aggressively protective in guarding their newly laid young; the birds made very loud screeching noises and were likely to dive for our heads.

We walked from the guesthouse closest to the airport to Miðgarðakirkja, the formerly Catholic church that's now Lutheran. Small though it was, an early Icelandic Catholic bishop had consecrated the church, dedicated to St. Olaf, patron saint of Norway, in the 11th century, which the understanding that there should always be two priests at the church who would sing Mass daily, but twice a day on special occasions.

After dinner, we took a break from our hiking, but shortly before midnight we hiked down to the end of the island where the Arctic Circle monument was located, and had our picture taken. Unfortunately, the sun didn't come at any point during our stay, but we were rather happy that it didn't rain. It was downright chilly, though; we were glad we had jackets and gloves.

The location of the Arctic Circle moves around, and the lack of sun stymied our ability to find where the Arctic Circle was this year, but we figured we were close enough. As we left the island, we even got a Certificate of Achievement for having visited.

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