On Friday I took off from work and we went whale watching from the Reykjavík harbor. It’s not the best area to see whales, but it’s extremely convenient for us. Leah also found a company with a fantastic policy: if you don’t see a whale, you get a free comp-ticket to come back and try again.
Spoilers! We didn’t see a whale. That’s okay, though. We will have plenty of opportunity to try again since we live here now. This company also has an operating base out of the northern city of Akureyri. The whales up there are more varied and almost always appear. It could be a great trip next summer. Then again, we may go to Húsavík and take one of the sailing tours instead. It all depends on what’s allowed for Wit’s age. We’ll definitely find whales one way or another.
While we didn’t see any whales that doesn’t mean the trip was a total waste. We hopped on board the boat after a quick burger at the harbor. It was spacious with a large galley lounge where you could get snacks and drinks. We claimed a comfy table in that zone for our bag of coats and settled in. In just a few minutes we were underway and Wit was eager to go up on deck. Over the course of the three hours at sea he got plenty of practice on how to navigate ladders on a boat and how to terrify his dad by running ahead. Somehow we all managed to survive.
The air cooled quickly and our coats were a perfect choice. The boat has jumpsuit-floatation gear you can wear if you’re very cold, and kids all have to wear a life-vest the whole time (no complaints from me). My lopapeysa and Leah’s coat were enough for us, though. When we did get a little chilly, we just moved to the sunny side and warmed up.
While there were no whales to be seen, we had plenty of bird visitors. The most notable was a group of Northern Fulmars who rode our wake and would fly quick buzzing passes in front of our ready cameras. They seemed pretty friendly but be warned! When threatened their defense mechanism is to vomit on their attacker. Ew.
We also saw a bunch of tiny puffins flying around. They move in groups and very low to the waves. They’re also extremely fast, moving around 50mph. They’re scared of the boats and stayed too far for a good picture. Wit was pleased to see them, though.
Eventually we made our way back to land and decided to get a bite to eat downtown before we headed home. While strolling up from the harbor we came across some fantastic street art, for which Reykjavík is famous. This stuff is all around town and it really brightens up the place. While some homes and roofs are bright colors, most of the external facades in the city are gray concrete. Splashes of art breath in life.
We thought about going back to a little Italian restaurant that Leah liked from a previous visit, but once we reached it the place was packed with tourists. There’s a lot of options in the downtown area, though, so we kept walking. After more debate and searching I recommended a Pakistani place called Shalimar. To my surprise, Wit actually seemed interested once I described the food and told him he’d be trying something new. Leah was hesitant at first because she dislikes curry (I told her there were other things than curry), but she doesn’t like to dissuade Wit when he’s feeling adventurous. We went in and had an absolutely incredible meal.
My lamb saagwala was so filling I barely managed to get it all down. We got some naan, a mango lassi, and a nice selection of chicken dishes too. The staff were very friendly and we had the place mostly to ourselves. Eventually a couple locals came in, obviously knowing it for the gem it is. I think we’ll go back there again sometime.