Before we set out for our three day trip around Iceland’s ring road, we wanted to do a day of light sightseeing (always a good idea after back-to-back sightseeing), so we decided to go whale watching. At the harbour, you will find two prominent whale watching companies – Elding Whale Watching and Reykjavik Whale Watching. We made a booking the previous day for a whale watching tour along with a trip to watch puffins. We were scheduled to leave at 9:00 am, and since I always woke at 5:00 am, we couldn’t have been late. The brochures had disclaimers about sightings. Don’t get fooled by ‘the swoosh’ of the whale’s tale on the brochure. You’d be incredibly lucky to sight a whale up close. Maybe, the right season and location is also a factor. We spent an hour waiting for our carrier. On-board, we were given general safety instructions and an option of taking medication for sea sickness. Our trip started and as we cut across the waters, going deeper in the sea, the temperature dipped. Our first sightings were of minke whales. They were three or four of them swimming in sync. Basil found it difficult to get a good shot of them. Our guide, gave us the characteristic features of the whales. We saw dolphins (again in the distance) and minke whales. By the time we made it to watch puffins, we had covered three quarters of our trip. Our chances, to find a humpback, had decreased significantly. Puffins fluttered around the island and it was difficult to get a good view of the birds. On our way back to the harbour, we had couple more sightings. But, I didn’t pay attention, I wanted to savour the last moments of our trip.
With half of the day done with, we headed to Hallgrímskirkja Church. Opp the church is a small café, Cafe Loki, which is quite popular for Icelandic food. We ordered smoked salmon on rye bread, fish pate on rye bread and rye bread ice-cream. The lady waiting the other table explained the history of rye bread. Earlier the bread was baked at the sulphur springs and kept overnight. Today, an oven does the job! We proceeded to the church. An impressive statue of Leifur Eiriksson, believed to be the first European explorer to discover America, towers across the cascading backdrop of the church. A gift from the US, the statue forms an integral part of the landscape and tourists don’t miss an opportunity to take a shot with it. The church has a peculiar architecture and is loosely inspired by the eruption of an active volcano. Inside the church, a pianist practiced for his musical show, to be held, on the following Saturday. Despite his irritation, tourists clicked away, including Basil. In the almost empty Lutheran Church, music echoed across the walls and we sat back to enjoy his practice session. From there onwards, we walked along the by lanes of Reykjavik, discovered quaint homes and backyard art on the way.