20.05.2016 - 20.05.2016 50 °F
So we sort of teased the puffins and have very little to show for it. Oops. But let's start at the beginning. The hotel breakfast was held in the restaurant that is connected to the lobby. There was a nice continental spread in the back room with your typical breakfast foods: cold cuts, fruits, cereal, toast. The week finally caught up with us and we had to nap after breakfast.
Our puffin tour started at 12:30pm which gave us time for lunch at the famous Icelandic Fish & Chips! Except we're idiots and went to the wrong restaurant and didn't realize it until after we ordered. We did have the wherewithal to split an order instead of gorging ourselves and then go on a boat; which meant we could try the actual Icelandic Fish & Chips when we got back. The place we ended up in was Reykjavik Fish Restaurant...and the fish and chips were REALLY good. They served their malt vinegar in a Misto, which I promptly unscrewed and poured into my dish. So. Good.
The puffin islands were really close to the harbor - only a ten minute boat ride. We boarded a boat with about 40 other people but it was maybe only half full so it didn't feel crowded. There was also an inclosed lower level if you didn't want to ride outside. As it turns out, puffins are super small; only 10 inches high. That's a hard bird to capture on a cell phone. To make up for the lack of pictures, here are some puffin facts we learned today: the puffin flaps its wings 400 times per minute and dives up to 196 feet but they can only stay under for one minute. Puffins burrow into the island and lay one egg. The mother and father take turns fishing and bring live fish for the puffling to feed on, rather than regurgitating like most birds. After a while, the mother and father dump a big pile of fish in the front of the burrow and say, "You're 18, you're on your own. See ya." They fly out to sea and spend the rest of their time there until it's time to come back and start all over again. The puffling eats the graduation present and when it gets hungry enough, also flies out to sea (at night, to avoid predators) and stays there for four years before coming back to breed. Even though the pictures aren't great, it was an really neat tour and totally worth the cold and wind on the boat.
When we got back, we were determined to eat at Icelandic Fish & Chips. It gets rave reviews online and most everyone says its the best they've ever had. Turns out we liked the Reykjavik Fish Restaurant better - go figure. The batter at the Reykjavik restaurant seemed more traditional with a little more flavor. The batter at Icelandic was really light.
After second lunch, we headed to the Whales of Iceland museum; the largest whale exhibit in Europe. The museum wasn't very large (I mean, it was large enough to hold full-size replicas of whales), but we still managed to kill an hour and a half. There was an audio tour that we opted out of and instead looked at the life-size recreations and read the signs. What an eye-opening experience. Where do you get the chance to see exactly how big a whale is?! At a couple areas there were interactive stations to learn a little more about the whales and watch some videos. Also playing was a video about tagging humpback whales. Apparently as a zoologist you need to be a crack shot with a gun if you want to get a promotion. The tag must go into the fin of the humpback whale so when they surface the satellite can pick up the signal. Tracking and learning about whale behavior is a very big deal and starting in January of next year, the whole world will be able to see where the whales are traveling. Interesting article if you want to learn more: http://icelandictimes.com/68362/
After the museum we walked back to our hotel a different way to see other parts of town. We saw some of the camper vans in town. I forgot to mention that these things were all over the countryside. They are advertised as a budget way to travel and see Iceland. I'm not sure where you park it at night or how you shower - but they sure are popular.
Everywhere you turn in Reykjavik there is street art of all sizes. Tim has been fascinated with it, and many of the works are quite impressive. On a tip from our friend that we saw here yesterday, we found a small work in a random alley of a residential area. The rumors are that it was done by Banksy, but we couldn't find any definitive info about it so that remains a mystery. So we either saw one of the most valuable works of street art known to man in a random Iceland alley, or there is a really good knockoff artist we can thank for luring curious tourists like us off the beaten path in Reykjavik.
Tonight we had a late dinner at an Italian restaurant called Italia. Um, how is it possible we had the best Italian meal we've ever had....in Iceland?! Us food-scarfing Americans were finished in no time. On our way back to the hotel we stopped by the Chuck Norris bar. Yes, there is a Big Lewboski bar and a Chuck Norris bar in Iceland. I will quote a review I saw online, "It's like drinking in a Chuck Norris meme." It was awesome.
The Pens are playing game 4 tonight so we decided to come back and watch the game on the computer (at 12am our time). More fun stuff on the books for tomorrow. I leave you with this: When Chuck Norris does push ups he doesn't push himself up, he forces the earth down.