fresh air, sunshine, and moonlight

Reykjavik Travel Blog

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city pond
New Year's day, 2010.  The great symobolic new start, complete with its symbolic hang over. Icelandic beer is almost 6%, and I have No Idea how much spirits the hotel were putting in their gin and tonics!  Start the way you want to go on, right kids?

I dragged a protesting Iain out of bed with the totally unreasonable, but unfortunately true, observation that as it was almost noon, half the daylight was probably already gone (it turns out not quite half - as Iceland is on GMT, the sun hits its height a bit after noon).  We decided it was too late to do a tour and we would go for a walk instead. I really wanted to go up the cathedral tower. Regular readers will know there are few things I love as much as going up towers.  But as it was new year's day, the tower was shut and we were foiled.
longship on the shore - the blur is from teh snowball!
  We went for a coffee in Cafe Babalu instead.   This place is incredible.  It has cozy sofas, and some of the most eclectic decoration I've ever seen, and a lovely guy working there.  There are tiny little tables and book shelves and more chintz than I have ever seen in one place.  It's as if someone has opened the best cafe in town, in your nan's friend's living room.  Better still, the coffee is lovely and there are incredible cakes.  The apple crumble had oats and honey in the topping and I wish I had been brave enough to try to scam the recipe.  It was fantastic. 

Plunging back into the cold, we set off to explore the harbour area. Not for the last time, I lamented bringing thin leather gloves and not thicker ones.
Town hall and national museum
  As I don't ski (yet) and it's years since I lived anywhere cold, I had forgotten about the feeling whne your hands start to hurt with the cold.  But I was damned if I was going to whine too much, so we walked to the shore. 

One of the first things we discovered was that the whale watching ran through the winter, which looked appealing.  We wandered past the fishing boats, and went along the shore past the steel longship statue. It was incredible weather, bright and clear, sunny, and although it was cold it was a nice cold.  Iain and I had a snowball fight which I roundly lost on points after a direct hit filled my handbag with snow.  Of course I swore revenge, and of course I lost thoroughly every time I tried. 

That evening we went to look for the Northern Lights.
Church at city pond
  There were several stops along the way.  First, we stopped at a tiny historic church above Reykjavik and watched more fireworks for a while.  The graveyard was lit up.  Apparently this is an ancient tradition, and on new year's eve itself the main churchyards in the city are filled with thousands of candles.  I think it is a nice tradition; celebrating with people who can't celebrate with you, I suppose. 

Then we went on to Thingvellir national park, the ancient centre of Iceland and the home of their Allthing, one of the world's earliest functional parliaments.  It's actullay spelled with an icelnadic letter that looks like a P that fell down a bit, but it's pronounced TH and spelled TH if you are at a lame computer that won't let you make icelandic letters.
A wall that has turned into icy mossy art at the town hall


The moon was so bright we could have read by it.  I've never been able to wander around a national park by moonlight.  The moon glinted off the thick frost and the snow like thousands of diamonds, with the rift valley below us almost like a dark day.  I have never, ever seen anything like it.  It blocked all but the brightest stars.  I pointed out polaris, the pole star, to Iain; that far north it's almost overhead.

We went on to a frozen valley under a mountain to look for the lights.  There was no way to see them though; the moon was bright enough to mask them completely.  Iain and I played at Ice Zombies to keep warm, lurching at each other and pretending to run away.  I'm sure we looked utterly insane to the backpackers and families on the coach, but we didn't really care.  Pretending to eat each other's brains was definately more fun than sitting still on a bus.  Even without the lights, the trip was worthwhile.  The strange, volcanic landscape in the moonlight will stay with me for a long time. 
lauro says:
aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ok ok ok i will follow your blog again!
Posted on: Jan 11, 2010
sarahelaine says:
You're asking the wrong woman - I didn't even try to cut costs! Beer was about £4 a pint, and most things seemed to be half again as expensve as the UK, so £30 for a two course meal and drinks per person somewhere quite posh.
Posted on: Jan 11, 2010
lauro says:
hahaha yu crack me everyrtime sarah! i miss your wits! lol
Posted on: Jan 11, 2010
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city pond
city pond
longship on the shore - the blur i…
longship on the shore - the blur …
Town hall and national museum
Town hall and national museum
Church at city pond
Church at city pond
A wall that has turned into icy mo…
A wall that has turned into icy m…
City pond again, facing the other …
City pond again, facing the other…
Fountain on the square with the ta…
Fountain on the square with the t…
Harbour
Harbour
Cafe babalu, a lovely cafe
Cafe babalu, a lovely cafe
No...
No...
No, really.  Its not funny, that…
No, really. It's not funny, that…
Longship art
Longship art
graveyard lit for Christmas
graveyard lit for Christmas
Historic church
Historic church
The moon
The moon
Thingvellir national park
Thingvellir national park
Thingvellir in the moonlight
Thingvellir in the moonlight
thingvellir in the moonlight
thingvellir in the moonlight
Thingvellir national park by moonl…
Thingvellir national park by moon…
Reykjavik Nightlife & Entertainment review
The English Pub
The English Pub is a bar near the centre of Reykjavik. As I live in England, it is always interesting to go to English theme pubs to see what the wor… read entire review
Reykjavik Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Rossopomodoro
It's worth noting htat average means average for what I spent in Reykjavik; the whle meal including drinks came to about the equivalent of £30 a head… read entire review
Reykjavik
photo by: MadeleineGL