Driving down to Ægisíða to meet our guide, Skúli Guðbjarnarson, I had a feeling that my eager team of rowers and I were in for something special. The autumn sun hung low in the evening sky, throwing its pale glow over the bay. Surveying our sturdy Faroese fishing boat, all agreed it looked a reliable vessel for our evening’s trip, particularly in the calm conditions that stretched out before us.
Skúli duly arrived complete with all the necessaries: safety gear, waders, picnic basket (contents to be revealed later), as well as complete repertoire of local history, wildlife facts and the obligatory seaman’s story or two. As we set off, any doubts about rowing ability were allayed, as Skúli was very much on hand to advise and take over as and when our initial enthusiasm began to wane and our triceps began to wonder what the hell was going on.
Being out on the water brought a very different perspective to Reykjavík. Out of the hustle and bustle of downtown, the gentle giant, Mt Esja, almost hugged the city, sheltering it from the brunt of the cold easterlies. The majestic Snæfellsjökull was visible to the north and Bláfjöll, the Blue Mountains, stretched out to the south-east. Being on the water also brought a very different perspective to the word hunger. It wasn’t long before the sea air brought a Neanderthal-esque grumble to my stomach that needed attention, and fast. The plan? Crabs! The process of hauling in Skúli’s mid-ocean crab trap provided much giggles and excitement, especially when we discovered five wonderful examples that would become dinner. After a time musing over where we would shore up and cook the little critters, we decided upon an isolated skerry of rocks, home to a gaggle of arctic geese and a few suspicious looking puffins.
With the sun beginning its descent on the horizon, we sat down to enjoy what had to be in my top five list of ‘most delicious meals in random locations, ever’. As our crabs met their sad end in a large pot of boiling water, we warmed our hands and bellies with a hearty, steaming barley soup, mopped up with some crusty bread. All the while Skúli entertained us with stories about Álftanes, Viking settlers, growing up on Viðey and attempts to translate untranslatable wildlife names. However, all talk stopped as soon as the crabs were ready to serve, and we descended like a pack of hungry seagulls on our gloriously tasty victims. Washing it down with a refreshing French chardonnay added a further touch of “je ne sais quoi” to our already exotic location.
However, our delightful pit-stop had made contemplating the row back a harrowing one for our lazy legs and aching arms. Again we needn’t have worried. The trusty Skúli was ten steps ahead and had brought an outboard motor for the home stretch. Sitting back to take in the glorious explosion of pink and orange in the sky around us, the seabirds trailing us in the freezing air and the lap of the darkening ocean against the boat, time seemed to stand still. Venus twinkled above our heads in the glow of a green solar splash that appeared from nowhere, and which melted away almost as soon into the haze of city lights. As we reached shore, the last orange flare of day faded over the horizon and we gathered ourselves for home, tired and a little chilly, but thoroughly pleased with an evening’s adventuring and a job well done.
Reykjavík Coastal Rowing Adventures offers coastal rowing eco-tours in the Reykjavík vicinity all winter. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or +354 777 8844
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