Our first stop in Iceland was at Ísafjörður, a small town in northwest Iceland with a population of 2,736. A fishing village for centuries, it still has one of the largest fisheries in Iceland. For a variety of reasons fishing has been declining since the 1980's and as a result the population has been decreasing. Tourism has been increasing in recent years providing some compensation for the loss of fishing income. The day we were there two cruise ships were docked, our ship and a Viking cruise ship.
On our way to the dock in Ísafjörður we were escorted by the cutest and most colorful tugboat we'd ever seen. Although in the picture below it may appear to be some toy in a bathtub, it was actually a full sized tugboat. In addition to helping to brighten up an otherwise drab environment, colorwise, it might also be part of the Icelandic sense of humor.
It was also here that we first saw another instance of the Icelandic sense of humor, a coaster with the saying "I AM A RAY OF FUCKING SUNSHINE." You can see a picture of the coaster in the photo album. In the following weeks at almost every stop in Iceland we were to see that over and over on coasters, shirts and cups.
The Cruise Director had told us about a place near the dock to get some of the local beers, though he warned us, as with many things in Iceland, the beers weren't cheap. Just a short walk from the pier was the Dokkan Brugghús, an excellent microbrewery serving 12 different beers on tap.
The lack of varieties of beer aboard the ship is one of my ongoing complaints about cruise ships. They have a wine list that goes on for pages but only a few, mostly mediocre, beers. So it's nice to be able to visit a brewpub when ashore. My favorite is when they serve beer flights where you can choose smaller servings, usually around 4 ounces give or take, of three, four or more beers. At Dokkan Brugghús you could order any of the 12 different beers on tap as part of a flight, choosing 4, 8 or 12 different beers. You can see the full list of beers in a picture in the photo album.
For this stop we had booked an afternoon tour with the cruise line to Vigur Island, a wildlife sanctuary. Vigur is especially known for its puffin colony, which is the largest in Iceland. I really wish we'd had a long lens to take some better pictures of the Puffins, but there are a few somewhat grainy shots of Puffins in the photo album.
After a half hour boat ride to Vigur Island they hand you a long pole with a number on it as you exit the boat. The pole is for when the tour takes you to an area near the Arctic Tern nesting area. The unique number on each pole allows them to ensure all visitors have left the island before the boat departs. The Terns are not shy about driving off intruders when you walk in the area of their nests, so you have to hold up the poles so they will dive bomb the top of the pole instead of your head. You can see some of the pictures of the Terns and people walking with poles held up high in the photo album. If you want to know what it must have felt like to be an extra in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds," be sure to visit Vigur Island.