Getting to know Reykjavik
Reykjavik Travel Blog› entry 2 of 8 › view all entries
It was a beautifully crisp but cold morning, thermals and salopettes were the right choice! Literally across the road from out hotel was a spectacular view over Vi√įey and Engey Island. We walked down the sea front to S√≥lfar, the Sun voyager sculpture, an impressive pieces of artwork by J√≥n Gunnar √Ārnason which represents the original Viking settlers arriving in longboats.
Continuing our walk we went through the town centre up to Hallgr√≠mskirkja church, this strange looking church has a 244 foot viewing tower but this was unfortunately closed so no scary heights for me! Outside there is a rather scary looking statue of the explorer Leif Ericson. Next stop was Perlan, situated on the hill Oskjuhid it is built on hot water storage tanks. Catherine wasn't too keen of walking all the way but with no taxi's about and my gentle persuasion off we set. It true style I only had the poor attempt of a map in the guide book, but with Perlan in sight and my advanced homing pigeon instinct we found our way with no problems.
The views from Perlan over Reykjavik are amazing, 360 panoramic! However with the temperature at -5 and the wind making it feel 100 times colder a quick march round the viewing platform is all we could stand. Back inside there is cafe, bookshop (randomly!), gift shop (where we found it very amusing to play with the Viking hats!) and Christmas shop. There is also a revolving restaurant in the top glass domed top floor, only opened in the evening, and the Saga museum which we had been told by a friend was not worth a visit so we skipped it. Outside there are a number of bore holes, not being able to resist we had to see how warm the water was, HOT is the answer! There is also a wooded area with several small walks, in all a very nice area and free which is the best bit :)
We took a different path back down into the town via Tjornin, a large and very frozen lake! Now growing up in the UK we are told and told, NEVER play on ice, but as we walked round we could see lots of people just cutting across as if it was their normal route. There was a man walking his dog, repeated throwing a ball for it to chase and a woman with a pushchair! I couldn't resist and bravely strolled on, all of about a foot. I was so scared, despite all that was going on around I still thought I would fall through, I didn't but that still wasn't enough to tempt Catherine on. In the corner nearest the centre is a small area of unfrozen lake which has hot water pumped into it for the ducks and geese, bless!
We continued the stroll through Austurvollur Square a leafy green square, home to Iceland's Althing (House of Parliament), he we stopped for lunch, it was pretty much the only place sheltered from the wind and was very pleasant with the sun beaming down.
We then wandered back through the shops to pick up a few Viking souvenir (had to be done!) and postcards to write home. As we were walking back it began to snow and snow and snow! As we reached our hotel we ducked back down onto the seafront and continued to H√∂f√įi, which is basically a house, but one with history.
Back at the hotel we got ready for our Northern Lights tour, which basically involved putting more layers on. The tour companies liaise through your hotel to keep you informed of any changes and about half an hour before we were due to get picked up we got a call from reception cancelling our trip. I was gutted seeing the Northern lights was the reason we had visited this time of year, they said they would see how it was tomorrow and we could maybe go then.
Plan B, we decided to meet up with a work colleague of mine, who happened to be in Iceland at the same time, for some food. Stepping outside the whole place had changed, we were in a full on blizzard, the snow was horizontal and there were drifts bigger than me! Braving the elements we walked to the Saegreifinn (Sea Barron) for some lobster soup and mink whale kebabs both amazing! The on to the Ice bar at Restaurant Reykjavik, with it being a Wednesday night the staff said it was empty and would we like to have a look before paying, which was very fair of them. Good job as well, it was like a meat freezer, basically it was just a room with blocks of ice stood up against the walls, we decided not to bother and went to find a bar with people in it. The next place we came to was The English Pub, now I know what you‚Äôre saying, you go all the way to Iceland and go to an English Pub! I wouldn't normally but we needed to get warm. What an interesting place though, possibly the least unlike an English pub as you can get, the football was on but there was no atmosphere as everyone watched in silence. Quick pint and move on! Bjarni Fel was a much better establishment, it was packed full with around 10 TV‚Äôs all showing a different sport. The bar staff were very friendly, finding us seats and making pleasant chit chat about what we had been to see so far, that‚Äôs more like it! Our final stop was Svarta Kaffi√į were this time we ventured onto their impressive liqueur coffee menu to warm us up. Great night :)