Day 11 |
Sep 01, 2011

Bildudalur, Iceland  

By Stefan Kredel, Geologist

Co-ordinates: 65° 41’ 04” N, 23° 35 45” W
Air Temperature: 14,0°C
Pressure: 996 hPa

Today started in a relaxed manor. At 09:45 our fearless Expedition Leader Robin gave a talk he called “Making of the M/V Silver Explorer”. It was about the history of our ship. And even though I know the history of the ship pretty well, I went once again to this talk. Quite amazing how many times the ship has been converted over the years. Personally, I was first on this ship in 2002, in Singapore in a shipping yard and even since then it has changed quite a bit, inside and out. It was nice to see some photos from the old days …

After the talk there was a Safety Drill for the whole crew, and after a small break, a Recap & Briefing took place. Robin, our fearless Expedition Leader, showed a bit of nerves about today’s port of call. Bildudalur is a small village where not only we haven’t been before but even no other cruise ship ever went there before. So according to him the locals are very excited about our visit! So the question is obviously why we then decided to go there. Well, by being a small ship with only about 120 guests we have the advantage to be able to go to small remote places. And this place was highly recommended by our local tour operator to be something special. So even though the place was highly recommended by our Icelandic tour operator it made Robin a bit nervous that the place isn’t mentioned too much in travel guide books. But sometimes you have to take the chance to discover new places. And that is actually the spirit which runs real expedition cruise ships, to take once in a while the chances and try new destinations. The tour was mainly meant to go to the old house of an artist who passed away some years ago, and who seemed to have his own style of art. His former house is now something like a museum. So we were all very excited about what to see. After the recap, I spoke about the main geological features of yesterday, and then it was time for lunch.

Once on the tour busses, we headed out to the western end of the fjord. It was a beautiful scenic ride of about an hour. The “road” was winding along the coastline, and on the other side there were steep and impressive volcanic cliffs. In this area here, far in the northwest corner of Iceland, we are geologically in one of the oldest parts of the country, older than 3.3 millions years, which is quite a lot for Iceland! When those rocks were formed, it was part of the spreading center and along a huge fissure system that a large amount of thin lava made it up to the surface. Far later, during the ice ages, deep U-shaped valleys were cut into those plateau basalts. I think not only for me as a geologist, it was a magnificent ride along those cliffs. A lot of our guests were surprised about the white sandy beaches on the other side of the road. Why white, as basalt usually results black sandy beaches? The reason for that is that corals grow in quite large in the fjord. They are not reef-building corals and for that they have no problem with the cold water temperatures here close to the Polar Circle.

Our final destination of the tour was the former house of the local artist Samuel Jonsson (1885 – 1969). He lived in this isolated location and started forming sculptures. It is hard to explain this place. We had a German artist as our guide. He lives here temporarily to preserve the sculptures and the life of Samuel Jonsson. He explained us a bit about the life of Samuel Jonsson and the idea of the sculptures. It was special, indeed. And the surrounding nature made it even more special!

At 19:00 we attended the Captain’s farewell Cocktail Party. At the party Robin thanked the Captain and the Captain thanked the guests. We had a great cruise and were very blessed with the calm seas we experienced, especially if we look at the open waters we crossed in the last weeks.

Today I had the great honor to join our fearless Expedition Leader at his dinner table. He was hosting a table with 6 guests, all from Australia. It was a really nice dinner indeed. After a small drink in The Bar I headed to bed, as the next day there was a full day excursion on the schedule.