Sat Aug 20 2011: Whale-watching in Husavik
Akureyri (A) to Husavik (B) and back
We rode to Husavik one morning, about 100 kms away from Akureyri. The fog was pea-soup thick and my left hand was like a windshield wiper on the highest setting wiping away the fog droplets which built up quickly on my visor.
Husavik is known as the whale-watching capital of Iceland and the home of the Icelandic Phallological Museum boasting a collection of 235 mammalian male members - yes, a penis museum! We lined up in front of the North Sailing's ticket booth, nervous about purchasing tickets because of the thick fog that was enveloping everything in sight. We could barely see 20m ahead of us. Our fear was of a repeat experience we had in Hawaii when our swim with the dolphins turned out to be just a swim in the ocean... no dolphins in sight...
We finally decided to take the 3-hour tour (I am not making this up) on an old whaling ship to go whale-watching. Because of the restrictions on whaling, most of the hunting ships are now converted to more politically-accepted tourist boats. The fog dissapated the further we got from the shore and we actually had quite a clear day for whale watching!
What was funny was watching all the tourists (us included) scuttle comically across the deck everytime the tour guide announced "dolphins at 11 o'clock!", "puffins at 3 o'clock!" The crew up at the observation deck must have been dying of laughter!
Aboard one of North Sailing's schooners. Gene at 2 o'clock!
Minke whales are a common site in the harbour around Husavik. Another whale-watching boat in the distance. All the boats kept in constant communication to let each other know where all the whales and dolphins were.
Thar she blows!
Hunchback whale just off the port side of the boat. This is what everybody came to see. 60 meters in length, this one spouted water out of its blowhole, and gave everyone a dorsal fin-to-tail view as it dove underwater.
Hanging out with our new friends from Italy, Massimo and Sylvano
We met Massimo and Sylvano on the boat, they were conspicious with their helmets in hand. I struck up a conversation, but Neda had to continue it, since they didn't speak English, and Neda speaks Italian. I did speak the universal language of MotoGP though, and we had an in-depth discussion on how Rossi was stinking it up at Ducati this year. They were surprised their Dainese brand made it all the way to Canada. I didn't know enough Italian to tell them that they were importing all their gear just for one person, and at that moment in this picture, they were talking to that one person. This picture was taken in the parking lot after the whale-watching tour. Contrary to what it looks like, the Italians are not berating Neda, they are animatedly discussing their route through Iceland.
Q: How do you shut an Italian up?
A: Tie his hands together! :)
Lots of Italians in Iceland. It's their month-long vacation (called Ferrogosto) right now and it seems most of them came here. It was so nice to talk to other motorcyclists on the trip! This is Massimo's GS, and Sylvano's Transalp in the back. They left from Denmark and took a 2.5 day boat ride to Iceland with the bikes.
Had dinner at a great sushi restaurant back in Akureyri called Rub 23. It was terribly chi-chi though, and we walked in with our riding boots caked with dirt from our previous day's off-road excursions.
Sign on the men's washroom at Rub 23
Speaking of which, we had to stop for pee breaks on the road much more often in Iceland. The friggin cold makes even a tiny amount of pee seem like a bladder-busting emergency! Every washroom stop would be like, "WTF? That's all?!?!"
Akureyri's Motorcycle Museum
We visited the motorcycle musuem of Iceland in Akureyri. This exhibit was a wooden motorcycle created by a group of Icelandic artists and donated to the museum. There is a large motorcycle community in the town. All night long we heard bikes rip up and down the road in front of our hotel. The reason why is because that road is the only curvy road in town. It's like staying at a hotel on the Forks of the Credit! I talked to one of them outside our restaurant. He told me many of them meet every night at the town square around the corner. It's like a Timmies meet! We were too tired to attend, had to wake up early the next day!
My new favorite motorcycle. Zundapp from Germany, unfortunately they stopped making bikes in the 60s. Note the suicide shifter.
Right throttle grip was the accelerator. Left throttle grip adjusted the ignition timing! Cool!