We arrived at Grimsey under cloudy and threatening skies, but the conditions didn’t diminish the resolve of National Geographic Resolution guests to hike and photograph birds and scenery. A few guests hiked to the unique monument designating the Arctic Circle at the end of the small island. As the magnetic pole varies from year to year, the large spheroid is moved each year to mark the Circle’s exact position. Other guests walked to the bird cliffs, where hundreds of calm puffins seemed to delight in posing for our photos. Eggs were still in the nests, so we didn’t get the iconic photos of puffins with their beaks full of fish (the record is 89, by the way). Nonetheless, they provided us with all sorts of poses for a true visual treasure of Iceland. Joining the puffins were kittiwakes, patiently sitting on nests precariously placed on very small ledges jutting from vertical cliffs. And a special surprise was the appearance of three razorbill auks, who delighted in showing off their stark black-and-white beauty. We viewed other birds, too, including the European golden plover (Icelandic official bird), snow buntings displaying courtship behavior, and of course, the ever-present Arctic terns. A drenching rain appeared midmorning, but we were on our way back to the ship by then, and it didn’t dampen our quest for puffin photos.
After lunch, we received an unexpected surprise…complicated, last-minute arrangements succeeded, and we were able to dock in Húsavík, the oldest settlement in Iceland with a current population of ~2300. It is known as the Whale Capital of Iceland because numerous species of whales are regularly observed in the surrounding waters. Appropriately, Húsavík is home to the famous Whale Museum, housing many informative displays and the skeletons of many cetaceans, including a 25 m blue whale that washed up on a local beach several years ago.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire and Saga, Netflix’s over-the-top, silly musical comedy, was filmed in Húsavík. The film features two characters played by Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams. “Jaja Ding Dong,” a catchy, singsongy bar tune, was written for the film and released in June 2020. It rapidly became a certified hit, spawning innumerable memes and providing a brief but welcome respite from the angst associated with the pandemic.
We returned to the ship for another round of recaps followed by an Aquavit toast to the Icelandic National Day. This day commemorates the foundation of The Republic of Iceland on 17 June 1944 and the end of Iceland’s centuries old ties to Denmark. We finished the day with yet another delicious dinner.