Iceland thinks of itself as part of Europe and is peopled by Norwegians and Celts, but it is so far north and so far away, it occupies a unique position in a number of ways. It is dotted by the volcanoes that created it as it located on the junction between the North American and European plates. On the same latitude as Anchorage, it has more glaciers than the rest of Europe put together. Icelanders are pioneers in green technology taking advantage of the geothermal heat coming out of the ground and the hydro from the melting glaciers. However, almost all of the 320,000 people own cars and even here air pollution is a concern. It is an old and new country. Reykjavik was formed in 874, but the country did not get its independence from Denmark until 1944. This was a clever move since Denmark was occupied by the Nazis at the time and too preoccupied to do much about losing this fertile rock. Recently Iceland has been in the economic news, suffering one of the worst crashes in the world. Today their national debt is 105% of their gross national product and inflation is rampant.
We weren’t sure that we would get to Iceland at all. Dublin has a tricky harbor and our ship could only leave at high tide. Our first departure was delayed to the next midday due to a gale. At noon the captain decided to wait again and as we finally sailed out in the early evening our GPS gave us the impression that we just might sail right by. This type of cruise ship is built for passenger comfort rather than speed. But we had a favorable wind and the captain put the pedal to the metal and we only arrived about four hours late, in time to take the tours we had chosen. But the same wind that helped us to get here, kept us from setting foot on shore. The harbor entrance was narrow and the captain decided not to buck the winds that could blow us aground. A tug brought out a few new crew members and took a few back, but that was it. We stood on deck and looked longingly at where we wished we were. Another missed port and another two days at sea ahead. We talked to a lady who along with six friends had paid a non refundable $1600 to take a 4 wheel drive in Reykjavik today. An expensive disappointment.
You feel silly feeling bummed when you are living in the lap of luxury, but this was a stop we were really looking forward to. Note to self. Perhaps crossing the Atlantic on the northern route was a bad idea.