Reykjavik City Center

Trip Start Jan 18, 2012
Trip End Jan 24, 2012

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What I did
Reykjavik City Hall
Volcano House
Reykjavik Art Museum - Old Harbour

Flag of Iceland  , Gullbringusysla,
Monday, January 23, 2012

Today's activities haven't been so exciting and it seemed colder and windier while walking around today.  Plus it was overcast.  So this blog entry will thankfully be much shorter.

After getting dropped off by the shuttle, I crossed over to the pond and took some photos of all the water birds congregated at the pond or lake.  There were white geese and gray geese and smaller grayish birds that I assume were ducks.  Some had teal feathers.  After I had gone in search of City Hall, I heard a commotion and someone was feeding the ducks.  She had a huge bag of bread and was tossing it out so I came back and took more photos.  It was quite the scene.

I found the City Hall.  I had walked around it a few days earlier not knowing what it was.  Jon, our glacier walk guide, had mentioned it was worth going into.  The huge 3-D topographical map.was  illuminating - I could see the glaciers and probably where we walked.  Also you could see how jagged some of the coast was with their fjords.  I wasn't sure what else was there so I went upstairs but didn't find anything except for busts of their former presidents or prime ministers.  They have gone through quite a few in the last 5 years.

From there, I had planned to go to the Harbor Museum but I went into a tourist info center and found out that the Museum I thought I was going to was some small part of another museum and the Maritime Museum was closed on mondays.  So I went to the Reykjavik Museum of Art instead.  They had two major exhibits - one by a Spanish film maker named Santiago Sierra.  As I looked at some of the films, I was at a loss.  There was one where he paid junkies in Puerto Rico to have a 10" line shaved on the back of their two heads and paid them each a line of heroin.  Another with 4 prostitutes who had lines tattooed across their backs - also for a line of heroin apiece.  Another when he paid 8 Indian women in Mexico to learn a line of Spanish that basically said "I am learning this sentence but I don't know what it means."  Then I read how he was making a statement about inequality so it wasn't as meaningless to me anymore.  The second exhibit was posters and drawings by Erro.  These were more accessible to me.  His earlier work went back to the 50's and you could see different styles and treatments during different periods.  I liked some of his drawings that had a more geometric design but some of his posters look more like comic book art.  There was a lot to see there and I probably could have productively spent more time looking.

I had been stopping in a few shops to see what they had.  Nothing was striking me though.  But by this time I was hungry and I now knew where I wanted to go - a little hole-in-wall in the Old Harbor area.  It was wonderful.  I think the buildings were old fish warehouses - now tourist shops but not everything was open.  Luckily for me this place was.  I ordered some lobster soup and asked the girl at the register what she would recommend.  She showed me the kabobs lined up in their refrigerator case/menu and recommended halibut so halibut it was.  I got my soup quite soon and scarfed that up with slices of bread and butter.  Our Northern Lights guide says she eats butter on dried fish as a snack.  Their tables are made from long logs sliced lengthwise it seems or maybe they are plastic made to look that way.  Then there are some kind of heavy barrels - maybe anchors of some sort - with cushions tacked on them for stools.  On the walls are all sorts of paintings, photos and seaworthy memorabilia including a photo of an elderly man in an Icelandic sweater holding a package of dried fish I think.  He is grinning.  I think that is the owner.  They also have postcards of him but they were almost $2 apiece so I just took a photo of his photo.  The halibut was perfect!  A great place!  Not cheap, unless by Icelandic standards.  While I was eating, I listened to the music - I heard the Righteous Brothers I think,  Oh, I was trying to remember these so I could note them....but now I've forgotten but some I think were. even late 50's rock songs.  I have heard a lot of classic rock here - yesterday it was early Beatles that I can recall. 

The Volcano House had attracted me on my way to the restaurant so I went back there and saw two 20 min documentaries on volcanoes in Iceland.  This was pricey - most of the museums I went to were less than $15 but this was over $20 US.  It was fascinating to see the power and destruction of the volcanoes and the will of the Icelanders to live in Iceland despite its risks.  By now it was getting dark and close to 5 pm when some stores were closing so I went into a few shops and wandered a bit.  Then I went back to the Concert Hall/Convention Center - not Opera House - as I had been calling it -- to take some photos of it lit up.  It has a light show with blues, purples and maybe a little green - very nautical for a seafaring country.  As I was stuffing my camera back into my pack, I met a man from Venezuela who thought I had fallen down.  We chatted as we crossed the street and he told me that living in Iceland was great - he hasn't experienced any discrimination here.  At first he was unhappy because he wanted to go to the US, but his sister married an Icelander and she got her family into Iceland whereas his US relatives didn't make an effort to get them into the US.  Now he says he is happy because they (his mother and other siblings) are better off than his US relatives.  I thinks he meant economically as well as socially.  It was a pretty far-reaching conversation for such a short time.

I stopped in one more shop, caught the shuttle back to the hotel, and went to the convenience store for some breakfast and other food for the flight tomorrow.  I checked at the desk for a late check-out but I need to check back tomorrow morning.  I asked about the poor/fair internet connectivity and the desk clerk said he was not aware of any other complaints.  Could it be only this package-deal inferior room?  When I got back, my room window was open.  It was not a problem.  Heat here is pretty steady although not  I wear several layers while I am up and am mostly comfortable.  It is amazing that my winter wool socks have dried in a day - a 24-hr day but you can't see any heat sources in the rooms - or at least I can't.

Since I had the Gull light lager the other night and am not a big lager fan, I decided to try something else but it might be that the convenience store can only sell light beer.  I got something that says malt on it and orange.  At first I thought I might be a cider of some sort.  It is sweet but I can't identify the flavor.  I would not buy it again.

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