We had our first landing on Flatey, a small island north of Reykjavik, this morning. With calm seas, we took our Zodiacs ashore and had time to visit the famous church and little library, as well as walk through the town and visit our first puffin burrows.

One of the most important texts in all of Iceland came from this island. The Flatey Book was written in the late 1300s, taken to Denmark in 1561, and then returned to Reykjavik after Icelandic independence in 1971. Today, a replica of this important book, which includes many of the famous Icelandic sagas, lives in a tiny library here on Flatey.

Another wonderful feature of this tiny community is the church, which was built in 1926 by a famous architect who also designed Reykjavik’s signature church downtown. Guests all had the opportunity to visit this church and learn about its spectacular murals. These were completed in 1990 by an artist named Baltasar Samper. Though he originally came from Catalan, he married an Icelandic woman and spent his adult life here. Behind the altar, Samper painted an Icelandic Jesus figure, modelled after Samper’s first born son. The ceiling is split into two halves. On one side, Samper painted scenes from Icelandic life, including boat building, preparing seal pelts, cleaning eider down, and catching puffins. The other half depicts the story of Flatey through the ages, including the story of the Flatey Book. In many cases, Samper used local people as models for this beautiful piece of art.

Today was also our first opportunity to walk in the countryside and to spend an afternoon on the ship where we had an introduction to photography in the early afternoon, followed by an introduction to the history of Iceland.