A Nautical Nomad

Reykjavik

Well, some more photos of my sojourn to the North Atlantic and here I am in Reykjavik the capital city of Iceland and an impressive capital city it is. The city is about three miles from the cruise terminal and necessitates taking a shuttle to get there, which I did in the Morning, spending the day wandering around the city and indeed the harbour. See photos of the very impressive Opera house.

The photo of the figure with half his body encased in rock had no explanation and I wondered if indeed it depicted the banking industry with their very complicit roll in the financial crash of 2018. However one of my friends explained that it is a depiction of a faceless civil service employee. You will remember the actions Iceland took after the banking crisis when they jailed the bankers and bailed out the people .


Iceland’s economy is very heavily dependent fishing although tourism is making significant inroads on the once dominant fishing industry.
Iceland is not a full member of the EU but is part of the EEA on the lines of Norway, therefore, it is subject to about 20% of EU law. As such it is not part of the Eu fishing policy although its internal fishing regulations work very much like they do in the EU. They have sustainable policy’s much like the EU and a quota system again much like the EU which mean that quotas can be traded. This has been the subject of discord in the fishing communities as there are around half a dozen very wealthy families who own most of the quotas along with the fish processing stations.


I decided to make another trip into the city last night to sample the nightlife and indeed chose to walk the three miles. On the way, I diverted somewhat from the footpath which ran along the side of the road and ended up walking along the beach where I came upon the strangest house I have ever seen. It was like walking on to a scene from Mad Max, see photos below.

A couple of Icelanders were also walking by, saw me taking photos and came across to tell me the story of the house.
Apparently, it is owned by a famous filmmaker who I think is called Raven. He is obsessed with the Vikings and all things Norse. His most famous film was The Flight of The Raven” He is a recluse now and rarely seen. I must admit it was an eerie place. See photos,


So, on to the city and visits to various hostelries, almost all of which had live entertainment. Note the young lady who I think was a member of the tourist board as she seemed intent on making my visit to Reykjavik memorable.

I found a bar with live music and dancing which made the evening worthwhile heading back to the ship in the early hours, still in broad daylight. All in all an interesting bight out in Reykjavik.

Advertisements

A Nautical Nomad


Tip to the north Atlantic day 11 Shetland Islands

Well, hard to believe but another great day weather wise and indeed company wise. After disembarking I walked into the town of Lerwick, a busy town and the capital city of the Shetland Islands. A town of small winding streets with no distinction between pavement and roadways.


Shetland took the oil industry by the scruff of the neck when it first came knocking on its door in the seventies, demanding a share in the bounty from the seas, and it got it, with hugely improved roads community centers and school facilities. The island community also benefited from the money spent on harbour improvements and of course the spending capacity of a large amount of oil-related personnel brought in to service the oil facilities built on the islands.
The Shetlands were originally under Danish rule but in 1469 were gifted to Scotland as a dowry on the marriage of James 3rd to Princess Margaret of Denmark.
During the second World war, Shetland was an important military facility and base for the Shetland Taxi, which was a name given to a hugely successful operation to transfer members of the Norwegian resistance between Scotland and Norway.


So after disembarking and exploring the town I found a nice café, intending to have a coffee and get some wi fi but a nice surprise was waiting in the form of Sheena Wellington and her husband Malcolm, Sheena for those of you who don’t know was the lady who opened the new Scottish parliament in 2009 when she sang “A Mans a Man For A That” So I joined them for some coffee only to be further surprised when Jean Urquhart arrived.

Sheena and Malcolm had arranged to meet her. Jean was a blast from the past, indeed to my hillwalking tour days as the Caleigh Place in Ullapool, which Jean owned, was one of the hotels we used whilst doing hill walking tours for an American company and I spent many a happy night in the Caleigh place, a hotel like no other. Jean was an SNP MSP for some time before leaving because of the change in SNP policy regarding NATO membership, a very principled lady.


Sheena and Jean had arranged to meet up as Jean was now resident in Shetland and I was persuaded to come along on a tour of the island in Jean’s car. A great trip around the island on a beautiful sunny day, ending up at Jean’s home, which sits a few steps from a most wonderful sandy beach. Tea and a good blether mainly about independence rounded off a perfect day. We got back to the ship with 5 minutes to spare. All in all, a great and unexpected day.


Next stop, Invergordon tomorrow.

A Nautical Nomad

Leaving Iceland

So, after 5 days in Iceland visiting 4 ports, we are now heading South East towards the Shetland Islands. Both Iceland and the Faroe Islands have opened my eyes to just what small independent countries can do when they put the welfare and well-being of their people before corporate or political interests.

I have long fought for the independence of Scotland and in doing so have had to wade through the swamp of misinformation and downright propaganda put about by people with vested interests in keeping Scotland shackled to the decaying and rotting corpse that was the English empire. The reason for this is of course that without Scotland’s assets and tax take, England would be on its way to becoming a Third World country and the people who govern us know this full well, more so now as we watch the pantomime of the Tory leadership contest. A contest of clowns in a circus of their own making. The outcome of this comedy will be that once again Scotland will be governed over by people we never voted for, people who will tear us from the European Union, a union in which we in Scotland voted 62% to 38% to remain.

So, looking at Iceland gave me hope, a country of fewer than 400,000 people, a country with a far higher standard of living than the UK. A prosperous and stable country governed by the people, for the people. A country that bailed out the people and jailed the bankers in the western financial crash in 2018. A country that told Britain to get lost when they tried to claim for bailing out the branch of the Bank of Iceland based in London. The reason being that it is up to the county whose regulatory system failed, to bail out the banks not the country of origin.

Iceland does not have a standing Army whereas Scotland is charged £3.5 billion per year as a share of the UK armed forces. What could our social serviced and the NHS do with an additional £3.5 per year? Iceland does not have Weapons of mass destruction as we do, and our imperial masters are about to spend over £200 billion on upgrading this useless system, Trident.

Iceland does not get involved in wars with countries in order that corporate interests can control their oil and in doing so facilitate the slaughter of both the inhabitants of these countries and our own service men and women. Islandic armed forces consist of a coast guard with three patrol boats and a special forces unit of about 45 personnel. Iceland is a member of NATO but does not have to contribute armed forces to any of their peacekeeping operations.

Iceland is a country at peace with itself and all other countries, a model of where we could be in Scotland with independence.

As we sailed out of the harbour of Reykjavík I looked back and saw what Scotland could be, a confident, prosperous and free country, a country at ease with its place among all the independent countries of the world, a country in charge of its own destiny

I will be back

A Nautical Nomad

Cruise to Faroe Islands, Iceland and the Shetland isles day 4

                                    Eskifjordur

Wow!! that is the word which comes to mind to describe todays visit to Eskifjordur. What a beautiful yet simple place, situated at the head of a fiord flanked with snowcapped mountains on either side. Multi-colored prim houses lining the two roads that meander through the township, every one of them a credit to their owners, I did not see a single one of them in any state of disrepair, just like the fishing boats that inhabit the harbor.

Eskifjordur is an important fishing port for this area of Iceland and most probably where the obviously buoyant economy derives a great benefit from. The township was founded in 1248 but human settlements date back at least 5,000 years. Because of its position it gradually became a major trading hub and key centre of commerce within the Hanseatic League

We docked at 11.30 and I headed along the waterfront to where I could see a water course tumbling down the mountain side in a series of spectacular waterfalls. I had prepared for cold weather as looking from the ship I could see a distinct snow line running along the hill tops, however as soon as I had disembarked I could feel the warmth in the sun and before long my jacket was in the small rucksack I had with me, and my sleeves rolled up.

A group of about 20 young actor/dancers came out of a church hall further along the street all with painted white faces, the one in the front carried a sign saying “ we will dance for an hour and 20 minutes” heading in the direction I had just came from. I was tempted to follow but the mountain called, and so I held on, crossing a burn and finding a rough path which headed through a small wooded area in the direction of the waterfalls.

I had intended bringing proper walking boots but had forgotten to pack them and the shoes had on were hardly suitable but at least gave a good grip on the rocks which were in the main volcanic black Garbo, always a good surface to get a grip on. As I climbed higher the view became more spectacular with every stop for breath I took (which was quite often). Every photo opportunity was also a brief excuse for a rest, and I followed the water course almost to the snow line where commonsense took over and because of the flimsy footwear I turned back, feeling quite accomplished and even ran down some of the hill, just like old times but without the heavy Bergan.

A fantastic unexpected walk  on a gloriously sunny day in Iceland and as I neared the bottom of the hill I spotted a hostelry where I had a good meal of some sort of stew with Chicken and vegetables accompanied by rice and washed down with a large glass of orange juice and free Wi Fi, heaven.

Iceland has less than half a million people, I think it is something like 380 thousand. It is fully independent,  very prosperous and forward thinking. The last war it was involved in was the Cod war with Britain, which was a dispute over fishing rights in the North Atlantic. A war it won without the loss of a single person, against (at that time) a country with one of the largest armed forces in the World, It didn’t win it by force of arms but by what they had where they were. Iceland is the key to the north Atlantic and they have one of the largest airfields on the planet. Probably larger, with longer runaways than Heathrow. They are also a member of NATO, so all they did was threaten to come out of NATO and that brought Britain to heel.

Iceland does not have thousands of ex-service men sleeping rough on the streets affected by post traumatic stress, because of the horrors of war perpetrated by big business to get their hands on other countries oil and they do not have a cesspit of governess like we have in Westminster, because when things go that way they do something about it , they put the culprits in Jail ,like they did after the banking crisis in 2008 , when they bailed out the people and jailed the bankers. They are a stable wealthy country at peace with themselves just like Scotland could be with independence. Oh and as for the currency thing, I went into a supermarket to get a few things this afternoon and paid by card, I got the choice of paying for my purchases in any currency I chose, I chose pounds sterling, it is as easy as that.

So after quite an exceptional day I am sitting in the coffee shop on he ship looking out as we sail back down the fiord heading for the next Islandic port of call on the itinerary, lets hope it is another day like today .  

A Nautical Nomad

Cruise to Faroe Islands, Iceland and the Shetland islands

Day three Torshavn Faroe Islands

After a slightly bumpy night at sea we arrived in Torshavn, the capital City of the Faroe Islands, quite possibly the smallest capital City on the planet, but what it loses in quantity it makes up for in quality. Torshavn is a lovely town. Spotlessly clean, well ordered and efficient, with everything working. Not a single beggar or homeless person on the streets. Simply a town and community as it should be, exuding confidence and contentment.

The Faroe Islands are an autonomous independent country with their own flag, although still theoretically a dependency of Denmark. They have their own currency, the Faroe Islands Krona, although the Danish Krona is also accepted in all the shops.

A group of 18 islands with a population of 49,000 people. The main industry being fishing and fish processing, but with tourist related cottage industries sprouting at an ever increasing pace as the island group becomes ever popular on the cruise circuit and of course the airport, built by the Royal Engineers during WW2, increasing in popularity as an entry destination.

The history of the island group can be traced back to the discovery by Irish hermits who arrived here prior to the landing by Danish Vikings in the first half of the 9th century, who, both settled here and used the islands as a stepping stone to further discoveries in Iceland, Greenland and indeed North America where they landed some 600 years before Columbus got lost and stumbled on the Caribbean islands in the 15th century. Calling them the West Indies as he actually though he was sailing to India.

Until the late 19th century the Faroese were mainly sheep farmers before turning to the sea for their lively hoods where now there is a thriving fishing industry which includes fish farming based in the many sheltered fiords cutting into the land masses of the islands. They have one of the best broad band systems on the planet with an amazing range of 80 miles out to sea.

So after a very pleasant day in Torshavn with multiple capachinos being consumed as I took advantage of the excellent ( and free) wi fi in one of the many cafes in the town, we have now cast off and underway to Iceland, land of fire and ice where we have several ports of call with an overnight in the capital Reykjavik.        

A Nautical Nomad

Well here I am once more bobbing up and down on the sea heading on a North West bearing in the North Atlantic, heading for the Faroe Islands.

This is day two on a 13-night cruise with Cruise Maritime on the Magellan. Yes, some of you might recognize the ship name and recall that I cruised once before on this ship, about three years ago, relating a far from pleasant experience in the process. So, why might you ask am I on this ship again? Hmm, well the answer is, firstly, the itinerary, secondly the fact that I am a firm believer that most businesses work on the principal that they learn from their mistakes and improve as time goes on, thirdly, masochism seems to be one of my traits.  

So my first day( yesterday) started at a leisurely pace with a taxi from home to Dundee docks, a 10 minute drive, great, compared to the usual overnight in Edinburgh followed by a full day traveling across to somewhere like Fort Lauderdale with another one or two nights there before embarking on a cruise. Huge saving in both time and cost, although I must admit the travel experience itself is generally rewarding. Arriving at the “cruise terminal” just before 16.00. Now when I say Cruise terminal, I should explain that as far as Dundee is concerned it is several marquees strung together resembling a refugee processing station. I could not help but cast my mind back to when I was a director in the Dundee and Angus Tourist Board and made the case that Dundee could be a prominent cruise terminal with its natural deep water port and advantages position on the East coast, advocating a purpose built terminal. Well here we are some twenty-five years later and we have aspired to a tent to welcome visitors to Dundee, a situation that is put to shame by the small Banana Republics of the Caribbean.

So boarding was completed with a reasonable amount of Cruise Maritime-esq confusion and I was pleased to find the Cabin ready for occupancy. Few teething problems like a strange smell in the cabin, a safe that was inoperable, a light switch that fell off the wall when I tried to switch a light on and air conditioning that was not working. After a quick inspection under the bed to make sure a previous guest had not died causing the bad odor, I phoned reception to get the faults attended to.

So, to Dinner, where I was allocated a table with two other guys from South of the border who resembled Laurel and Hardy, if you remove the humor element of that pair. I tried to converse but to no avail, so after the first 5 minutes I gave up and let them sleep. I was sitting there contemplating the next few nights at dinner with these bundles of fun when I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned to see the Cavalry had arrived in the form of David Morrison, a good friend and fellow independence supporter who was on the cruise with his lovely wife and her sister. Saved, and met up with them later once I has safely seen laurel and Hardy deposited in the morgue.

So a very pleasant evening after all, with the Morrisons, good conversation and of course a few pints of beer.

So on to the “Late night Disco” to be entertained by “our resident DJ, Eric “which opens at 11.15 and by the looks of things closes at around Midnight with “Eric” no where to be seen. I went in there at about 11,50 and thought I had wandered into the wrong place as there was not a lot of people there and not even one on the dance floor. So, I thought, “well I am early, probably liven up later “and ordered a pint. The waiter offered to bring it over to me and indicated the tables around the dance floor. I told him that I would sit at the bar whereby he tried to guide me towards the tables by putting his hand on my shoulder. I advised him not to do that and made it plain that I was very capable of sitting where I wished. It turned out that they were trying to dissuade people from using the disco so that they could get finished early and get cleaned up and I was moped around where I was sitting in a very deliberate attempt to make it plain that it was time to go to bed. Absolutely unbelievable.

The ship is generally in not too bad condition, it is an ex-Carnival ship made plain by the very distinctive winged funnel. The corridors are nice and wide, and the décor is of a reasonable standard. There is a problem in the Bistro dining room, which is the buffet area, as it is far too small for the ships compliment and very difficult to get a seat at mealtimes. The food quality is again reasonable if not top class.

I had a call from reception asking if the smell was still there and I confirmed it was, so they sent an attendant who said he couldn’t smell anything, but he had a cold. I suggested they send someone who did not have a cold.

So formal night tonight and I have just discovered that I have not brought any dress shirts with me so I will be kilt less tonight, I will however wear some trousers.  

Found a shirt that would do, so went to dinner resplendent in national dress, joining the Morrisons at their table as I did not relish another encounter with Laurel and Hardy ‘ Nice dinner and good company. After which the ladies retired to their rooms leaving David and I in the bar recounting our various business activities and experiences over the years, with of course a lengthy discussion of where we are in the fight for independence, all washed down with several pints of beer.

Overall a good day and onward to the Faroe islands tomorrow.