One year ago, on my journey aboard the M/V Explorer, we made our way around the shores of Iceland, A cloud-covered sun was already bright in the sky that June morning as I felt the familiar shudder of the ship.
On a voyage in and out of ports for 21 days, that sound clued me that we were either slowing significantly or about to enter a harbor. At 4 a.m. – yes, a bright sun at 4 a.m. – I looked out the cabin window and saw the most beautiful site yet on this long and varied trip.
We were entering port at Isafjordur, Iceland. Down the gangplank, I looked for the tour bus marked for kayakers. To my delight, I learned that I would not be taking a bus but instead would walk just a few blocks to another portion of the harbor.
And there they were, kayaks in every primary color lined up near the blue morning water.
My kayaking experience had been brief, most taking place on summer days and calm lakes in Quebec and the Adirondocks of New York, so a calm fjord sounded just right.
The day’s high temperature was 46F degrees (8C). Here, in the hands of West Tours, we kayaked on a beautiful flat surface of clear water. Those around me saw several seals; I saw the scenery directly ahead. Even though I was thoroughly skirted, the kayak was longer than any I had experienced and my center of gravity seemed a bit unstable.
My preference was to enjoy the morning above the water, a beautiful morning with quiet conversation between kayakers. Surrounded by the unspeakable beauty, this was a port to be etched in the mind.
Too soon, we were climbing out of the kayaks. Though my upper body had experienced a workout, I was totally energized. Returning to the ship for a snack, I changed into my running shoes before setting out to explore the town and find a trail to run a few miles.
The small and efficient information office directed me to a path that would take me on a trail parallel to the highway and – if only time had allowed – to the next town up the road. My first miles were more of a walking pace, assessing my surroundings, breathing in the beauty while considering the safety of my on-foot journey.
I made my turnaround around mile 3.5, enjoying the return view toward Isafjordur. With the exception of a couple of cyclists and one walker, the path was mine.
Arriving back in town, I stopped in a restaurant for a delicious bowl of fish stew (more about this in a forthcoming food post). Before making my return to the Explorer, I did a quick look through some local shops, accommodating and friendly but not particularly tourist-oriented – a good thing.
Isafjordur is one of the dwindling authentic locations I have found on this earth and at the top of my list for a return.
Have you found authentic places and have you returned and found them to have remained authentic?