Although Iceland lies far north, its only stake of the arctic circle lies in the middle of a small rock island in the North Atlantic called Grímsey.
We woke up early this morning at Joseph’s apartment, and make a quick getaway back to the bus depot in the center of Akureyri. We took the local bus an hour up the fjord to the small fishing village of Dalvik. Dalvik was a quaint fishing village, and from there, we caught the Grimsey ferry to Iceland’s northernmost point, and the only spot that crosses the arctic circle, Grimsey.
The ferry ride was 3.5 hours, and for the first 2 hours of the trip across to Grimsey, our boat was surrounded by a thick, surreal layer of fog. Since we were sailing directly north towards the arctic circle, it felt like we were going into an unknown apocalypse – random sea birds swooping out of the fog at us, occasional dolphins swimming with the ship, and a stiff breeze over the bow.
In addition to being a passenger ferry, the ship also acts as Grimsey’s main lifeline for food and supplies. While all the passengers were loading on, forklifts also loaded the cargo hold with palates of groceries, farm equipment, and empty fish containers coming back from a successful day at the market.
Once we had docked in Grimsey, we were greeted by some of the locals – there are only 90 or so permanent residents of this northern rock, and the only real source of outsiders is from the three-times-a-week ferry, or daily prop plane flights into its small landing strip. Because of the predictable weekly small influx of tourists, the one restaurant and one shop get staffed by a few of the local kids on just these days.
Along with our new Czech friend Petra, the three of had a relaxing lunch at the one restaurant, and then started the northerly hike towards the arctic circle.
The actual crossing is somewhat un-spectacular – a simple signpost and line for photos – but significant nonetheless. After the line, the hike continues north another hour, to the puffin-inhabited northern cliffs of the island.
Our stay at the northern tip, looking off to the north pole was short, and after that we hiked back to the harbor to relax before our ferry ride back.
We returned by ferry to Dalvik, and then by bus to Akureyri.
Petra was still with us, and we piled back in the car, picked up Petra’s gear at the camping site, got a quick Indian Food dinner at the Curry Shack, and then hit the road for Myvatn.
Tonight the three of us are camping by Lake Myvatn, and plan on waking up early tomorrow morning to try out the Myvatn Nature Baths, and then explore the volcanic landscape.