I had great plans to post in real time, each night while on vacation, however, my iPad remained on the flight to Iceland, nestled in the setback pocket of the airplane, safe and sound. Now I am struggling to recreate our trip from sketchy notes taken while riding on bumpy, winding roads (in other words unintelligible) and from memory also not the most reliable. So here is where I admit that I have shamelessly pirated facts I could not remember from the internet, love the internet, but the photos are all mine! I’ll try to get this finished in the next week. Enjoy!
We landed in Reykjavik early on Saturday morning, sleepless in Reykjavik. The airport is not large and we breezed through passport control quickly. A driver was waiting to takes us into the city, nearly an hours drive from the airport. It was a gray day and the landscape rather stark, not at all unexpected but I do always hope for a ray of sunshine to brighten early morning arrivals.
Our rooms would not be ready for a few hours so we dropped our bags at the hotel, picked up a map and began to stumble around town. It was brisk, cold actually, and I think that helped keep us awake. Reykjavik is a small city and we walked a couple of blocks to the main shopping street, Laugavegur, looking for restaurants . . . nothing was open yet, so we just kept walking. Finally we spotted an open cafe door and went in; checked out the menu and began to order when the young lady behind the counter said, “we are not open yet, another 30 minutes, but I could get you some coffee”. We thanked her and said we could come back later.
Laugavegur Street it is quite delightful. There are boutiques, interesting window displays, restaurants, grocery stores, bars and souvenir shops; art and whimsy are everywhere. Many of the plain building exteriors have elaborate murals.
The artwork and window displays kept us distracted and moving forward for another half hour then we returned to the restaurant and ordered breakfast. There was one other table of customers. I guess folks sleep in on Saturday; the streets were relatively empty. We waited for what seemed like a long time and that was fine since we were just waiting until we could check into the hotel and plop into bed. There was a problem with the other table’s order involving the waitress and even the chef came out, lots of discussion, maybe a wrong order? Finally the chef packaged up the order and the women left, maybe they ordered “to go”, don’t know but there was drama. Another party had come in after us and sat down, we continued to wait patiently. One member of the party finally told the waitress they had to leave because they had to be somewhere. She checked and their order was almost ready, could they wait and she would package it “to go” for them. We still had not seen any food but at least we had coffee. The other party got their order and left and we continued to wait.
Apparently each order was individually prepared, one order at a time. I was wondering if this was typical and really didn’t bother me since we had nowhere to go and it was warm. Finally our order arrived; it had been about an hour. A little nourishment a little more energy we began to stroll back toward the hotel, stocking up on water at a nearby market then back at the hotel hooray, hooray the hotel clerk said our rooms were ready! Oh, sweet sleep.
We agreed to meet back in the lobby at 6 p.m.
Amazing what a few hours of sleep will do. Bundled up we headed down to the waterfront to look for a fish and chip restaurant that had been recommended.
There is a lovely walkway all along the waterfront but it was very windy and COLD. The coastal path is lined with modern apartment/condo buildings with views across the bay.
The Sun Voyager – a massive steel sculpture by Jon Gunnar Arnason resembles a Viking ship, but is a dream boat and ode to the sun. The mountains were hidden in the clouds but there were occasional spot of light that streamed though highlighting the distant shore.
A massive modern building stood out near the end of the path, it was the Concert Hall, home of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and Opera. A glass facade covers the entire building reflecting sky and harbor.
Crossing back into town we found the restaurant, Icelandic Fish and Chips, it was very crowded with locals but we were seated quickly. It took a little longer to get served, a pattern seems to be developing, time to relax. The fish is fresh; we are right across from the fishing harbor, the choices posted on a chalkboard. I was sent on fish and chips, George ordered fisherman’s stew and Susan baked fish. The fish and chips were served with your choice of sauces so I got a sampler of basil/garlic, mango and tartar. All of the meals were delicious – thanks for the recommendation Maggie!
We walked back through another shopping/plaza area, more restaurants, bars, shops and colorful buildings.
The Hallgrímskirkja Church, designed by the late Guðjón Samuel, dominates the skyline of Reykjavik, a massive structure with the tower rising nearly 240 feet. Construction began in 1945 and ended in 1986, with the tower completed long before the rest of the building. Of note is the massive pipe organ and as we walked through the church we listened to part of a rehearsal for a concert.
A statue of Leifur Eiriksson designed by Alexander Stirling Calder stands in front of the church, a gift from the United States honoring the 1930 Alþingi Millennial Festival, commemorating the 1,000th anniversary of the establishment of Iceland’s parliament at Þingvellir in 930 AD.
In all we spent 3 nights in Reykjavik and managed to see most of it. Nothing is more than a 1-2 mile walk. We did not spend any time in the museums, we were intent on staying awake the first day and the second day we were out all day with a photographer and our last day we had the morning to explore. So here are a few more random shots from near our hotel and Perlan “The Pearl” that affords a 360 degree view of Reykjavik form the observation deck and also houses a restaurant.
The neighborhood around our hotel