Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sightseeing: Reykjavik

 In the Autumn of 2016 I finally got to visit Iceland, a country I'd been wanting to visit for years but that I never managed to get to. STA Travel announced a new route that hit Iceland, Alaska, Seattle and New York so this was a must-do.

This page covers the city of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.

The view from my hotel which overlooks Hallsgrimskirkja a large church.

The structure, looking to be made from basalt columns, can be seen from almost everywhere in the city.

Inside it's fairly modest but the best bit is being able to take an elevator to the top of the tower.

A view from the top looking west to the marina, which I'd be walking to later. Rather embarrassingly I had a massive coughing fit whilst up here ruining the ambience of the church :)

The architecture here is mostly functional with high sloped roofs to prevent snow weighing damaging the buildings.

This is Solfar on the northern coast of the city.

The Harpa is the main concert hall and exhibition space in the city. A cool looking structure.

This is the Icelandic government house, their equivalent of the Houses of Parliament here in the UK. This is much less presumptuous and looked pretty good. Later in the weekend there would be protests here with people banging pans whilst session took place. This was a common way of peacefully protesting in the country.

The main street in the city. It's nothing like London. 

Down at the western edge of the city is the marina, where there's a sizeable collection of ships from merchant traders to military crafts.

I was lucky with the weather and at this time of year (October) it was pleasant and not cold at all.

This is the Cathedral of the King. Yep, that big church seen earlier is not the cathedral in the city; this one is.

For dinner I tried a "local Icelandic tasting menu" which consisted of whale, puffin, horse and lamb amongst other things. I found out later that this isn't what was Icelandic people really eat and in fact were told against supporting the notion that whale was killed to eat. That actually came about because it was a leftover from other industries in processing dead whales, and something thought it would be a good idea to market it as a food. The spirit Brennevin was a nice tasting schnapps type drink that was served as an aperitif.

A night time shot of the Hallsgrimskirkja 

Some pieces from a sculpture garden across the road from the hotel.

Plans for a new shopping centre being built close to Harpa

So cool, even Taylor Swift will be able to walk around with no hassle.

Government in session and the sound of pans being beaten

The city has a red bus tour. The ticket office was closed but the bus starts outside the Harpa.

From the centre of town a shuttle bus can be run to Smara, a major mall south of the city.

This is Hofdi, a house famous for being home to Reagan and Gorbachev when they were having their diplomatic conversations.

The Monument to the Unknown Bureaucrat. A comical piece that ridicules the unknown soldier a little bit. 

City Hall. Inside there's a cool 3D relief of the city.

Whilst waiting for the northern lights tour a sliver of it appeared next to the church. Yes! Box ticked, although not the big majestic pieces I was hoping for.

My final meal of my Icelandic leg was a delightful mixture of various fish and meat dishes including the famous horrible fermented shark which I could only eat one piece of. I loved the dried fish though!

So Iceland was incredible and a place I will return to. The scenery is beautiful, the people are friendly, and the tourism is well organised. I didn't realise quite how much of a hub it was to the US so will consider coming back here should I travel there.

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