First Full Day in Iceland
Trip Start Jul 16, 2013
36Trip End Oct 07, 2013
Todays blog is mainly just bits and pieces from around Reykjavík.
The municiple building again, where you can actually see the bridge leading to the entrance... there's another bridge on the other side. I find that a great design.
As there aren't any high hills where you can get a good view, this view of the buildings by the lake sort of represents Reykjavik for me.
And this is more like the sort of Lutheran style church I expect to see here...
I started off with a jog but even by the sea there wasn't that much to see. Mainly just suburban streets with hardly even a shop to be seen. In fact the only shops outside of the centre seem to be bakeries and flower shops. What could be more boring shopping-wise! Though finally I did come across a supermarket.
I decided to walk up to the bus station to ask about tours. I wanted to get through a stay in Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower but I suspect I'd be the object of too much derision if I left Iceland without seeing any geysers.
But what I didn't want was a whole day excursion which is just about all I'd seen so far so I thought I'd need to go to the station to find out more. It took a while as there seem to be heaps of companies offering tours to the region, though I'd have been more than happy with just a local bus up to there but they didn't seem to exist, certainly not to Geysir anyway.
I was told that the bus station has a restaurant that people actually go to and I didn't really believe it but sure enough, they had sheep's head on the menu and I could believe that people went there. Perhaps the restaurants are so expensive that the only restaurant many locals can afford is the bus station - who knows.
From the bus station into town yesterday I didn't even see the lake till the end but now I realise that the lake stretches almost right out to the station. By the time I needed my gps the station was just the other side of an overpass.
On the way I couldn't resist snapping these sculptures.
Not spectacular but interesting enough.
On a bit of a hill is the local cathedral and although you don't see it everywhere you go, it will appear occasionally in the distance. As I could see it from the bus station and I knew it was near where I wanted to go to anyhow, I headed straight for it. Some interesting posher suburbs on the way then there it was. Quite impressive.
The sides are supposed to represent some basalt rock formations. I'm not normally one for wandering around inside churches as a tourist site... but everone else was.
I sat down to take in the vastness and hight of the interior (one of the few things I remember from doing German at uni was that medieval cathedrals were always built with the huge hight to inspire the people to look upwards towards God a point documentary makers are always making too.) At some stage though I feel asleep and I think I woke myself up with my own snoring. It must have really resonated in there.
Being a Protestant cathedral there's not much to see inside, but the organ is truly impressive. The walls must shake when those huge, long bass pipes start resonating. There are thousands of pipes.
Outside was a statue of Erik the Red, presented by the United States to Iceland. There was some mention of Erik the Red being the discoverer of Vinland. Does that mean that they actually admit that an Icelander discovered North America? Anyway, I was rather disappointed that the inscription on the monument was only in English. Rather arrogant I thought.
On the way back to meet the Esperantists I spotted these boots. They were in a bed and bedding shop and I think they were genuine bed-shoes.
I also scored an Icelandic translation of an Agatha Christie in this bookshop where I also spotted this chess-table. Typical Iceland! At the bus station there was a very young boy with a chess set in front of him, analysing some position and in the book shop I bought a chess magazine. I had to buy it as there was an article by or about Ian Rogers - an Australian international master I played in the Australian Junior Championships many years ago.
And for those that don't know, the current world champion is not Russian but Icelandic.
This pub didn't have any chairs outside so everyone just took their beers and sat on the footpath on the other side of the road in the sun. Sitting on the ground seems to have become a trendy thing to do. They take their shoes off when they come inside, do they take their trousers off too if they've been sitting on the ground? Or are these just members of the back-packing set?
Some streets are too narrow for outside restaurant seating - and this is one of them. A rubbish-tin one side, the road inches away the other, pedestrians the other and the table is tiny. Not that it's that much better in Paris!
Another cute sculpture on the way back to the convention centre.
On the way to tea there was a bit of a racket coming from a side street so we checked it out. Gaudily painted/graffitied, rather like a children's playground which I suppose is exactly what it was to some extent. Skate-boarders to one side, three of four stories of youth the other. Though in the end I find the graffiti just too similar all over the world. They think they're being outrageous or rebelling but it's just all the bloody same.
Our pub again, this time much quieter. For those wondering, pubs close at one o'clock during the week, six o'clock in the morning on the weekend.
And there was no beer in Iceland till 1981. Amazing when you think about it.
And no tv on Thursdays and during the whole of July... no wonder they have a chess world champion. In fact they didn't get tv on Thursdays till 1986!
One more weird bit of info... on Sundays everyone used to speak Danish - now that is weird. This was no doubt quite a while ago but certainly still sometime in the last century when Iceland was part of Denmark. Surprisingly Danish is still the first foreign language that people learn at school.
Funnily enough Icelandic can be understood by speakers of one other language - Faroese, spoken in the Faroe Islands near Scotland!
Back home after closing, at one as usual. But now I've also discovered that there's a chip stall in the main square at that time. For about five dollars you get a pretty big bag of chips. Big enough that even while eating them constantly it lasts all the way to my home almost two kilometres away. I reckon if I knew the way well enough to walk with my eyes closed, I could finish the last chip, open my eyes and be standing right in front of the front door.