My husband, I, and a couple of our friends headed to Grimsey to dive north of the Arctic Circle. On our way there, we received a disappointing message from... read more Halla of Arctic Trip that the diving had been cancelled due to conditions and understood if we wished to cancel our trip. We asked if the puffins had arrived, and she said of course. So without hesitation we said we wouldn't miss Grimsey for the world.
After a slightly rough ferry crossing (I have to confess that I am prone to sea sickness, and even the patch didn't save me on this one), we made it into the calm harbor of Sandvik. Immediately upon disembarkation we were greeted by the welcoming smile of Halla. She assisted us with our bags and after a quick tour of the town, drove us to Guesthouse Basar where we would be spending the night. This is a quaint, clean and comfortable guesthouse run by Gaga (the original BTW), another friendly resident of the island. While driving us around Halla explained the island wasn't quite up to "summer" speed yet, but when we asked what we should do about dinner (there is 1 restaurant on the island with limited hours), she immediately got on the phone with her sister (proprietor of Krian) who agreed to open for dinner that night if Halla would be the waitress. It was a deal.
After Halla pointed us in the direction of the road leading to the Arctic Circle from Guesthouse Basar, we headed off on a bit of a hike. I think it may have taken us about 45 minutes to reach the giant concrete ball which memorializes where the circle cuts across the island. We made several stops along the way to enjoy the scenery and the birds. Most of the hike is pretty easy, but there is a steep descent/ascent when you near the end of the island and the monument, so you should be in decent shape to do this walk.
Once we worked up an appetite, we headed to Krian that night and enjoyed a wonderful meal in a comfortable atmosphere. When Halla asked what we had been able to do in the afternoon, she found we had only traversed the western side of the island. Because she knew we were a bit disappointed that we were unable to dive, she offered to give us a tour of the island in the morning.
When we met Halla at the harbor in the morning, to our surprise she had recruited her sister again. We all packed into a minivan and drove the eastern side of the island to our immense pleasure. While at the guesthouse another traveler told us to make sure we got our passport stamped as the post office to show we had been at the Arctic Circle. Now the post office is generally only open from 11 - 11:30 I think it was for that time of year, so when I thought we were going to miss our window because we were still driving, again Halla got on the phone, called the postmaster and asked her to wait for us to arrive shortly. I love the generosity of the people on this island!!
Once our chauffeur and guide dropped us off at the harbor, they whisked back to the restaurant to open for lunch. We spent time taking pictures of horses and puffins, then headed back for a bite to eat. After lunch, we headed over to Guesthouse Gullsol which has a cute gift shop where of course we just had to buy a few things. Then it was time to lug our suitcases down to ferry and back to Dalvik to resume our drive around Iceland. But not before Halla finished her restaurant duties and rushed down to give us the BEST & most sincere goodbye hug ever!
Grimsey is a magical island, and Halla of Arctic Trip is the best ambassador!! Our visit this time did not offer the best weather, but that did not dampen the welcome from this tiny community's residents. WE WILL BE BACK. Maybe next time we will try the summer. ;)
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