A two hour journey from the south-eastern coast to the western side of Iceland led us to the capital city of Reykjavik. Here we stopped by the Hallgrímskirkja, the main landmark of Reykjavik for a photo opportunity, and to get sense of direction and bearing on how the city was laid out for our future free time to wander about, as it can be seen from anywhere in the city. The architecture mimics that of the basalt columns we have seen on our trip so far and which we will see the best example of tomorrow at the Black Beach. From this vantage point we made our way down to the harbour to the Volcano House. The Volcano House gave us a glimpse of how erupting volcanos and earthquakes can be a part of daily life in Iceland. Two of the most powerful eruptions in Iceland’s recent history were shown giving us a better understanding and summary of what we have seen the past few days at both the Westman Islands and Eyjafjalljökull. After the cinema, students had some time to examine the hands-on geological exhibition held just outside the theatre doors.
From the Volcano House we crossed the street and boarded the Andrea, the biggest whale-watching boat in Iceland. On this 3 hour tour, (queue Gilligan’s Island theme song) yes, a 3 hour tour, we set sail and left the harbour of Reykjavik to the feeding grounds of whales and other large mammals nearby. On our way we saw more puffins making their way to their breeding ground and White-Beaked dolphins jumping by the bow of the ship as if they were pulling us to sea. Many students gathered on the two decks that gave panoramic bird’s-eye-views of the fantastic scenery around. Our ship moved further out to sea searching for more activity. Just as we were about to turn back to Reykjavik, an announcement was heard saying that a Minkie whale was spotted. Everyone grabbed their cameras and started shooting away (it was very difficult to get the right timing to capture these animals on film). On our way back we saw more Minkie whales and harbor porpoises. Our three hour tour came to an end as we docked back in Reykjavik and gave the students about two hours of free time to explore the small capital city and do some final souvenir shopping. We drove back to the south-eastern coast of Iceland where we have been spending our last 5 nights, with a quick surprise stop at a nearby waterfall.