Iceland (2006) ~ 02.Reykjavik
My accommodation in Reykjavik was the Reykjavik campsite, situated a bit outside the city center, for 800kr/night (price of 2006).
The campsite was really beautiful! What stroke me during my first "night" in Iceland was the midnight sun, it didn't really become night at all! Maybe just a bit of a twilight zone but still, not dark. I woke up at 3am with full light because the birds were singing... which made me wonder how do the animals cope with this? When do they actually sleep since its never really night?
An iconic Reykjavik sculpture, "The Sun Voyager", a boat of stainless steel that stands on a circle of granite slabs. According to the artist Jón Gunnar, it contains within itself the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom. In 1986, Jón Gunnar won a competition for a new outdoor sculpture to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the city of Reykjavik, his small model presented to the city for enlargement. Sadly, Jón Gunnar died from leukemia one year before the full-sized Sun Voyager was eventually unveiled on the birthday of the city of Reykjavik, August 18th, 1990.
No matter a modern block or sweet colorful houses, the buildings in Reykjavik blended beautifully with the landscape.
Going around the center of Reykjavik I visited another landmark, the largest Lutheran church in Iceland at 74.5m high, Hallgrimskirkja. I was struck by the shape of it as I haven't seen anything like it before.
Hallgrimskirkja was designed by state architect Gudjon Samuelsson in 1940 and took 41 years to build, construction started in 1945 and ended in 1986. There is an observation tower at the top, you can take the lift up to the viewing deck and view Reykjavik and the surrounding mountains for 300kr (price of 2006). At the time of my visit the lift was out of order so I couldn't go up.
With an interior of 1.676 square meters humans look small in the photos. Was surprised to find church icons very similar to the Greek churches, they even had Greek inscriptions on. Very peaceful and relaxed atmosphere.
An interesting feature inside the church is its large pipe organ by the German organ builder Johannes Klais. It has electronic action, the pipes are remote from the four manuals and pedal console. With 102 ranks, 72 stops and 5275 pipes, it is 15 meters tall and weighs 25 tons! Unfortunately there was no mass at the time of my visit so I could't hear its sound.
The statue of explorer Leif Eriksson in front of the church was there before its construction. Leif Eriksson was a Norse explorer from Iceland and the first known European to have discovered continental North America, before Christopher Columbus.
The statue was a gift from the United States in honor of the 1930 Althingi Millennial Festival, commemorating the 1000th anniversary of Iceland's parliament at Thingvellir in 930 AD.
Reykjavik city hall is situated at the city pond (Tjornin). Opened in 1992, it now houses the Mayor and other executive officials of Reykjavík. As of 2017 the official tourist information can be found here as well.
This is life in the capital of Iceland! Some beautiful houses surrounded by trees on the other side of the city pond with birds resting in the center.
Icelanders are definitely tough when it comes to cold, I was very embarrassed to watch these teenagers with t-shirts and shorts while I was dressed as if I am going to a polar expedition.
Walked to the top of hill Oskjuhlíd to visit futuristic Perlan, a hemispherical structure placed on top of hot water storage tanks, one more of Reykjaviks landmarks.
When I visited Perlan in 2006 there was a rotating restaurant on top (which as far as I know moved out to merge with another restaurant in the center of Reykjavik in 2017), a small man-made geyser, a photo exhibition, some shops and a nice viewing deck.
The blue sky and clouds were reflecting beautifully on the glass dome of Perlan. Didn't spend as much time as I wanted in Reykjavik because I was eager to go explore more of the wild nature Iceland is so famous of.
*All photos taken with a Canon Powershot S1 IS, 3.2 megapixels, my 1st digital camera.
GPS coordinates for places in this post, click on them to be redirected to the exact point in google maps. Click on the names to be redirected to their official websites.
Click below to read the connected previous or next post: Iceland (2006) ~ 01.Arrival and the Blue Lagoon Iceland (2006) ~ 03.Seltjarnarnes, Nautholsvik Beach