“Athena” - Lady with
- “Athena” heads for Greenland – but what stopped it? – and what
is it’s dark secret?
|My wife Ann and I are not
“cruisers” – but the promise in the brochure of a landing in East Greenland was too much to miss. “Athena” set
off from Harwich on 9 June 2006 for a first landfall in the Faroe Islands a couple of days later. Here you see
her berthed in the Faroese capital, Torshavn.
in Sweden with an ice-breaking hull, the ship
was originally the “Stockholm”. 50 years ago the bow collided with
the Italian “Andrea Doria”, sinking it
with loss of life on both ships. In its metamorphosis from liner to
cruise ship, “Athena” now seems set to live on for many years yet.
a transportation point of view, (a) a no-flying cruise appeals to quite
a few travellers, and (b) it has to be a less polluting and lower
stress way to travel. Maritime-style security worked for us rather than
against us, facilitating easy entry to, and departure from, all ports.
view outside Torshavn encapsulates the feel of the islands
– a place experienced by few British visitors, except perhaps
Shetlanders, who seem to have good contact with what is to them the
next group of islands, though the Faroese landscape itself has more in common with the Hebrides.
The next ports of call were in
it being the month
of June, there were fresh snowfalls on the north fjord coast.
is tied up at Akureyri, Iceland’s
northern capital, and gateway to Lake Myvatn.
Climate - surprisingly benign. The distant steam is from geothermal
and probably Iceland too by the look of the north coast –
hard winter 2005/2006. Despite Global Warming, the ice pack off Greenland’s
East coast was still, in June, solid – and “Athena” went to
have a look.
|Although recent storms - which we had
experienced on board "Athena" at sea - had broken up the ice chunks,
were still some biggies out there. The ice was dangerous even to
the ship's Swedish ice-breaking hull, and even stopping for long
carried risks in water at -2 degrees Celsius, so the ship headed back
spectacular pictures were obtained on returning to Reykjavik. Although a much-hoped-for
helicopter trip in Greenland had obviously not been possible, aerial
views (from a six-seater Cessna) of south-west Iceland were stunning.
The first image speaks for itself, the second shows the American and
European plates separating, the third is of the offshore Westmann
islands with possibly Surtsey extreme right. You can also just see the
town of Heimaey, which was half over-run by volcanic ash some years
but without loss of life. (We were privileged to visit Heimaey shortly
after the eruption, landing on a volcanic ash runway).
|Finally, it has been said that
Iceland is the only country to have preserved all of its steam
locomotives...yes, all two of them. They worked the dockside, one being
on the quay in Reykjavik.
Having said that, I also spotted narrow gauge tracks in the northern
fjord area at Isafjordjur, close to the fishing museum, and to which I
have failed to find any reference e.g. motive power - human, horse,
etc? So - it's not entirely true there were no railways in Iceland!
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