"" Writer's Wanderings: Djupivogur, Iceland

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Djupivogur, Iceland

 Again we woke to a sunny day. In this part of the world those days are cherished especially as they come nearer to the four months of the dark dreariness of winter. Our excursion was to be a cultural walk in this little town of Djupivogur which was said to have a population of about 500.

The Serenity anchored in the fjord and the tender trip to the shore was a bit longer than all the previous ones but was quite pleasant. We hoped the weather would not turn on us again as it had the day before. 

The tender put us off near some historic buildings that had been turned into a welcome station of sorts. Our group assembled just outside its doors and were handed individual listening devices so we would be able to hear the guide. Those are always so welcome especially when you have a large group of 15 to 20 people. There isn't so much jockeying for position to be able to hear. 

Our guide's name was Helga and she grew up in a nearby town. Her husband was from Djupivogur and had "fetched" her to live here. She was so very pleasant and had a nice sense of humor. She pointed out the historic buildings and recommended a pastry and coffee at the cafe inside. The red building and the one next to it had been renovated and the one was still being finished off. 

Next she explained the significance of the sculpture we stood by. It was a symbol of freedom. She told a story of a slave who ran away not once but twice from his master and finally ended up in Iceland in this little place. He married an Icelandic girl and they raised a family and built a thriving business. He was the first African in Iceland and his descendants number over 900 now. This was the place where his "chains were broken" and he was truly free. 

We walked on enjoying the pleasant warming of the sun and arrived at a house that was the museum for a mineral collection of one resident. He was quite a character telling us of all the wonderful finds he made of rocks that he could bring home, cut in half and polish to reveal exquisite designs of agate and sparkling paths of crystal inside. He talked of sticking them in his backpack to bring home. He must have sturdier legs than us. Some of those rocks were pretty large. As he spoke, I wondered if he ever sold any of the several thousand he had on display. He seemed to cherish each one as if it were a beloved pet. Later our guide mentioned that on occasion he did sell one or two.

Our next stop was quite a walking distance from the mineral collection. As we went along, Helga described some of the homes and how each one had a name specific to those who lived there or how they had decorated it. One house had little gnomes all around it. It was known as the elf or gnome house. 

A particular lawn decoration at the elf house however had nothing to do with gnomes or elves. A large mine from WWII was painted blue and sat at one end of the walkway to the house. Helga explained that there were mines still being found to this day. When one was spotted, they would call in the experts to deactivate it and then it became a part of the landscape. With a little chuckle she prodded us to move on just in case this one was still live. I'm sure it wasn't?

We finally arrived at the next stop which was in a slightly industrial area and where they were building what she called a sidewalk but we figured with the size of the construction it was going to be a boardwalk that led into town from the dock where a small cruise ship was now. 

As we followed her up a slight incline, she told us we were going inside a large storage tank that at one time held fish oil--lots of fish oil by the size of it. She assured us it had all been cleaned out long ago. Once inside, we sat in some chairs arranged around a small podium that was lit by candles. The door was closed and it was pitch dark but for a couple of shafts of light from some holes in the sides. A lady took the podium and began to sing. With the acoustics in the tank, there was no need for a mic or speakers and amplifiers. The beautiful Icelandic ballad resonated all around us and we soaked in the lovely strains of her melodic voice.

Returning to the daylight, we descended to the pathway that led to the one cruise ship dock. It was lined with sculptured eggs that depicted the different types of eggs from the birds in the area. Obviously they were bigger than life. They sat on pillars that were left from the herring processing plant that was once there. A large tube transported the herring from the ship to the plant. and the pillars sat empty until the artist who designed the eggs got the idea to use them in that way. The eggs were made of granite which is not found in Iceland. They were made in China. 

The strenuous part of our walk was to come. While it was a gentle slope to the top of a lookout, it was still a workout as we had been walking already for the better part of an hour. The lookout had some history of troll and folklore tales and we listened as we caught our breath. The way down was not such a gentle slope and I prayed I wouldn't twist another ankle on this trip. We still had four weeks of cruising left when this one was done. 

At the corner near the mineral collection house, we paused and she pointed out the grocery store that Bob had asked about. We turned in our listening devices since there was no other stop than the return to the tender dock and went up to the store. Bob needed some bandaids. The ones in our med kit were old and not sticking and he was in danger of losing a fingernail that he'd bruised badly in an altercation with a rock back home. Bob settled on Marvel bandaids, his other choice had been Frozen, and we headed back to the tender. 

Afternoon tea was special this day. It's called the Mozart tea time. The waiters dress in period costume, there are extra fancy treats and the musicians play classical music. It's kind of fun.

Since it was Bob's birthday, we had reserved a table at the Osteria d'Ovidio, the Italian specialty restaurant. He even sported a jacket and tie for the occasion. We sampled specialties from both north and south menus and of course the staff presented him a cake. It was way too big for the two of us but they sent the rest to our room. Still way too much. I wish we had thought to share it while in the restaurant with other diners.

The evening entertainment was listening to the violinist, Nadia Matiunina, checking on the finished and almost finished jigsaws (so far there were three finished and another almost), then on to the Stardust Lounge where the singers and dancers were doing a lively presentation followed by a vocalist and then a DJ who invited people to dance the night away. We just went away.

Donning our warm gear, we went back out on the top deck to see if the Northern Lights would be out again. We hung out until 11:30 and called it a night.  Our time was to change and we would lose an hour. I wasn't looking forward to another time adjustment. There were a few too many in the immediate future.

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