Friday, February 5, 2016

Reykjavik


First impressions upon arriving at the airport: Iceland is pretty barren. There are no trees at all, and not a lot in the way of shrubbery.

Reykjavik, however, is quite colorful and charming. It's not big, however. Though it’s the population center of Iceland, there are only 120,000 people or so (the nation as a whole only has 320,000.)

I opted to take three tours during my three days on the island, so I didn’t have much time to explore the capital. No chance to visit the interesting-looking history museum or the art galleries or...

In other words, this is going to be a short post.

I did stroll around the downtown area while killing time waiting for my Volcano tour. The downtown area is quite nice, with apartments, restaurants, and shops. I walked up the hill, away from the bay, and visited Hallgr√≠mskirkja—a stark, imposing structure that's also one of the highest points in the city





Given its height, the tower of the church provides a perfect scenic overview of the city.






I also passed several “puffin and whale meat” restaurants.

No, I didn’t try them.



I also didn't eat at this place:


I also passed this very cool concert hall located right on the water's edge:






Other random observations and thoughts:

-It was early June, but it was still quite chilly, particularly down by the bay.

-My hostel felt a bit industrial—which makes sense, since it’s actually a renovated old cookie factory. It was a pretty decent place overall, though.

The view from my hostel:



-It’s weird to think of living out your life on this isolated, cold little volcanic island in the middle of the Atlantic. But quality-of-life seems quite high, and they have all the comforts of Western Europe. (Though the warm water in the showers does smell like sulfur.)

And to finish off my post, here's some random trivia about Iceland (as told by the display on my Icelandair flights):

-1 out of every 10 Icelanders publishes a book—often about their own life, no matter how seemingly unspectacular. It’s such a small culture I guess they feel like they need more reading material. They also write lots of crime novels (even though it's actually one of the safest countries on earth.)



-Since almost everyone has the same few last names, phone books go by first name and occupation.

-Skyr is the Icelandic version of yogurt. In fact, it pretty much is yogurt, with - perhaps - a slightly creamier texture. They claim all sorts of amazing health benefits from eating it, but...

The baked apple flavor is quite tasty though.



The more you know...


2 comments:

  1. Next time you come over you'll have to ask about our homeschool geography this semester. This post definitely just helped me out on it! :)

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  2. That big building looks like the space shuttle. Reykjavik certainly is colorful and has some interesting buildings. And some amazing landscapes. Questions: are there lots of little villages in Iceland? Other than Reykjavik are there any medium sized cities? Do most people live in rural areas? I love all the pictures of the rural homes. Puffin or whale meat doesn't sound good at all, but it might be.

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