Thanks for the memories

Reykjavik Travel Blog

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Friday was to be our last day in Iceland and our day to explore the capital. We decided to buy a tourist card which gave us access to many of the museums and the bus service. Unfortunately, the first tourist shop we went to, had sold out of them so we got to go on a tour of tourist information stores. The Icelanders spoke fantastic English and were very friendly and gave us plenty of help planning our day ��" but it did not look likely that the Northern Lights tour was going to go ahead today either. We walked down to Tjomin a lake filled with birds on which the Town Hall sits. Our first stop was 871±2, the Settlement Museum; it is the newest museum in the capital based around ruins which date back to 871 (± 2 years) around the time Iceland was first settled. In 2001 the hotel next door to the museum was extending when the remains of a settlement were happened upon, the museum now exists under the extension and informs visitors about the settlement of Iceland. Iceland was settled by Viking men, but genomics suggest that the women on the island are actually of Celt origin, suggesting they were from Scotland; this is a very similar break down to the population of Greenland which may mean that Greenland was populated by Icelanders. A nice progression to our second museum, near the university was the National Museum of Iceland, which again described settlement with many more artifacts and also went through the conversion of the Viking settlers who did not demonstrate any religion to Pagans and then to Christians through the middle ages. In 1878 Iceland was the first country in Europe to complete a comprehensive census documenting each individual on the island. Unfortunately the document was not accurate for very long as the population was ravaged by famine and plague in the subsequent years.

Leaving the national museum we found ourselves near the pearl complex on the outskirts of the town, but we decided to head towards the 73m white bell tall tower of Hallgrimkirja or Hallgrim’s Church. The church is named after one of Iceland’s most beloved poets, Rev. Hallgrimurr Pertursson and was built in 1937; it is the largest church on the island and hosts some of the greatest peripheral views from atop the tower. They were preparing for a funeral in the church so we didn’t stick around too long after heading up the tower. We decided in order to make the most of our day pass and head to Videy Island. We found out that we were bound to miss the next ferry so we hunted out a snack and then walked down to the harbor in order to catch the next one. Nothing had been to far away so far in Reykjavik so we hadn’t anticipated that it would take us an hour to walk to the ferry terminal! Needless to say we missed the ferry by a few minutes, but were not the only ones who had made the mistake of walking there. There was an hour till the next one, but as we were losing light we had to weigh up the trip to the island with other things we wanted to do. Videy Island was settled soon after Iceland and in the 19th century was home to a monastery, there are fabulous nature walks and a monument built by Yoko Ono dedicated to John Lennon, but we decided that though a trip to the island would have been great, we would probably manage to see all of what we wanted in less than an hour that the ferry times would necessitate, so we caught the bus back into town and got ourselves a coffee (from a book shop) to fuel the rest of our afternoon. Our last tourist stop was the Reykjavik Maritime Museum of Vikin, located in the harbor amongst the fishing boats and markets. The Icelanders have a proud fishing history, so innovations in boating have been quite important to their development. It was nearing 5, when most of the museums closed so we decided to head back to the hotel to sort out our bags and make sure there would be no Northern Lights tour (unfortunately we were 3 for 3 of missing out, conditions need to be perfect cloudless, crisp and clear for the northern Lights to be seen). So we headed out for a Mexican dinner and then took a walk to the harbour to see Yoko Ono’s tower lit up at night.

I had a fantastic trip to Iceland, but our fight out was at 8am, which meant leaving the hotel at 5, so we called it a night early so we could make the trip back to Edinburgh via Manchester and picking the car up from Glasgow. Funnily enough the rain was pouring down and it was freezing cold when we reached Britain, much worse than it had been in the Arctic Circle!
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photo by: MadeleineGL