Iceland, Northern Europe

Akureyri Lake, Iceland

Sink or Swim

Let's play the game "Two Truths And A Lie": I have two hands, I love my mom, I've always been naturally athletic. You guessed it, it turns out that I'm not the most graceful athlete around town. In fact, I've could have been given the award of Best Left Bench Player on my High School volleyball team. That's why I was quite nervous to learn about the kinds of activities my family would be doing on our cruise around Northern Europe in the spring of 2013. 
My brother Mitchell and his best friends, Andrew and James, decided upon this cruise to celebrate their High School Graduation. We sailed through the Fjords, visited Norway, Iceland, Copenhagen, and Ireland, and more. But no relaxing was to be done on this trip. No, these boys were set on adventure. 
Fredrikstad Lake, Norway
What started out as a pleasure row on a lake near Akureyri, Iceland, ended in a life-threatening accident. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. After our ship docked at the port, we met our driver and he took us to a Icelandic equivalent of a Floridian Surf Shop. We suited up with special shoes and helmets (for later), and life jackets. Our two 20-something year old guides would take us on a series of activities. We would start off nice and easy with a row across the lake. Our guides reminded us that the water was near 30 degrees and would cause hypothermia if submerged. I warned the boys (especially my brother) not to mess with me! Remember my lack of athletic talent? Yeah, even kayaking is out of my league, so I was nervous that I would tip over into the freezing water.

For an hour or so we explored the lake and its beautiful shores as the sun broke through puffy clouds and bathed us in light. When our guides whistled for us all to meet together in the middle of the huge lake and lock up side by side (see picture above), my brother and I paddled over to join the group. Mitch thought it would be funny to swipe his paddle at me. Scared that I was going to tip over, I pushed his kayak away with my paddle. Well, it wasn't me whose boat flipped all the way over. Mitch's whole torso and head flipped with the kayak and he was submerged in the freezing water. We all panicked and for several seconds, we watched as the boat stayed stationary upside-down, not budging.

Finally, with a jiggle and then a thrust, the boat slid away, making room for Mitch to pop his head through the surface of the water. He had escaped the boat and was treading icy water. As we rushed to get him out of the water and onto the bow of our linked kayaks, one guide paddled as fast as possible to the nearest shore, several hundred meters away, to call for help. By the time we got my purple, shaking brother to shore and wrapped him in all our coats, a car had arrived to rush us back to the warmth of the "Surf Shop".

Although he regained a normal body temperature and hasn't mentioned retribution in at least several months, I'm still wary of kayaking with him again. Maybe next time I'll be the one to go under, and I'm not so sure I'm strong enough to pull myself out like he did! Well, I'll have to be sure that when we go kayaking again, its in warm waters.

Below are some snapshots of more adventures we had on our trip to Northern Europe.

Akureyri Waterfalls, Iceland
Climbing up from bungee jumping over white rapids.

The Golden Falls, Norway
Named for the thousands Of golden idols thrown over the edge.
Isle of Mann, Scotland
Andrew, James, me, and Mitch just before buying
Milkshakes and realizing that they were literally just shaken up milk.
Fjords of Norway
Mitch, mom, and me cruising the Fjords of Norway aboard the Azamara Quest. Luckily, Mitch didn't tip overboard in this boat.

Stay tuned for the next post about Coasteering on Shetland Island, Scotland!

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