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Monday, 21 May 2012

The mystery destination!

InvernessWell, I gave you a clue in that I flew over Inverness, so that meant I was heading north. icelandair wingtip 

Here’s another clue in the plane’s wingtip.

It is the Icelandair logo, and yes, we  were on our way to Iceland, Reykjavik, the capital city, to be precise.

It had been an offer I found on the internet - £140 off the normal cost for three nights in Reykjavik plus four half day tours.  I have always wanted to go to Iceland, preferring cool climes as you might know already, so decided to book it, and now here I was – on that flight. Seeing Inverness from above was quite exciting.  It is so recognisable because of the Caledonian canal basin and the canal itself running alongside the river Ness.  Being so clear I could even almost pinpoint my friend Janet’s house!, not that far from the canal basin.

flying into keflavik Flying into Keflavik with Reykjavik in the distance

The flight took 2 hours and 5 minutes – 1 hour 55 minutes on the return journey – and was very smooth until we began the descent to Reykjavik.  Nothing to worry about though, and soon we had landed at Keflavik, Iceland’s international airport, a forty five minute bus journey from Reykjavik itself through 15th century lava fields!  Quite astonishing!  The area is pretty barren but here and there are pockets of green where a golf course has been created!  On the way into the city there is one building that stands out – the Hallgrimskirkja, which we visited on one of our tours,the tallest building in Iceland.hallgrimskirke2  It was commissioned in 1929; the design agreed in the 1930s, but construction only began after WW2 and was not quite completed till 1974.  Its dedication came in 1986.  Apparently and not surprisingly there is a fantastic view of the city and surrounding areas from the tower.  There is a lift for those that haven’t the time or energy to climb the steps.  We didn’t even have the time, unfortunately. hallgrimskirke 

You can see the church from everywhere, it seems, but as you get nearer the full force of its appearance hits you.hallgrimskirke and leifur eriksson  

Inside it is much more traditional and its pale grey concrete pillars and vaulted ceiling gives it a very calm appearance. hallgrimskirke4 I loved it!  (Leifur Eriksson is the guy on the pedestal.  He discovered America long before Columbus, they say!)

As well as Lutheran services here, there are concerts, theatrical performances, poetry readings, state funerals….

organist hallgrimskirkeThere was an organ recital on as we arrived, and as you might notice, there was to be a funeral service there later in the afternoon. 

perlanAlso on our tour of Reykjavik on our first full day we were taken to Perlan (The Pearlperlan interior) an extraordinary building consisting of five enormous (geothermal) hot water tanks, set in a circle with a restaurant and gift shop set over the top under a glass dome!  reykjavik view

Outside the dome is a wide deck surrounding it from where you get more great views of the city. icelander with horn

Unexpected things happen there too! I never did find out who, what or why?

reykjavik government houseThis is the country’s government house in the heart of Reykjavik - built originally as a prison - with the statue of Hannes Hafstein, Iceland’s first native prime minister, as opposed to a Danish one I should think. I love the written Icelandic word for the Government House, Stjórrnaráðshúsið, which has one of the two letters that represent the two English letters th. We have this and that, these and those, the th being voiced.  It is represented by the reverse 6 with a cross through – ð – while the soft th in thank, think, three and thirty is represented by a written mixture of p and b – þ!  I þink ðat’s clever!

reykjavik city centre Right across the road are shops and cafes and it was in one of them I bought my filled roll and a cake for my lunch each day!

The president’s residence is somewhat out of town, presidential residenceand standing in front of it is a small church with 12 beautiful stained glass windowschurch beside president's house,

of which these are only two,

window in churchwindow3 in church 


and with the sun shining through them, the colours were beautifully reflected into the building.

solfar suncraft sculpture Back in the city later on I had a bit of an explore on my own, and reached the beautiful sculpture called the Sun Voyager or Sólfar down near the Old Harbour.  It makes me think of Viking longboats and reindeer!

There was just so much to see but I think these were the highlights.  In the afternoon we were to have a tour out of the city on what is named the Golden Circle.  It was amazing to see the Icelandic scenery – but more of that next time!

Talk again soon.


Katrina said...

Evee, I'm so jealous, I've always wanted to go to Iceland but I had no idea it looked so spectacular, Inverness isn't bad either! Looking forward to more great photos.

Anonymous said...

Well, that's a truly different destination! Looking forward to Part 2 - would enjoy hearing about the weather/temperatures there; local clothing and foods; did you bring back any special mementos? and was there any smell of sulphur from the geothermal activity?
Valerie, NZ

Evelyn/Ev/Evee said...

It was certainly spectacular, Katrina. I'd love to see more.

Hope you enjoy Part 2, Valerie. We had fabulous weather as you can see from the photos, day temps of about 9 C. The people dress in a similar way to us, adding or taking off layers to suit the temperature! Fish is very popular to eat - I tried Ling. Not my thing really. Cod is the favourite there. Don't care for cod either! Salmon was good though. I suppose I could have tried puffin but that went against the grain. They're too cute!
As for the sulphur smell, yes there was a vague smell but I must have got used to it! I brought back a fridge magnet, made locally, and a flat wooden reindeer! Everything was way too expensive.

Peggy Ann said...

Wonderful trip Evee and photos. I will never get to a place like that from the States, more than a 2 hr. flight from here and way more expensive. That is one of the downfalls of living here, everything is far away except Canada! You should write for a travel mag. Your pics are always so good!

Mike Tracy said...

I have to say this country looks great. I love the photographs you took so clear and concise. I like your narrative too. The stories take you right there. Post more, please.

Evelyn/Ev/Evee said...

Thanks Peggy. Yes, Iceland is expensive, and as you say a long way from the States,but maybe one day..... I don't think my photos would be good enough for a travel mag, but it's possibly something to think about!

Mike, thanks too! You have too much confidence in my abilities, cuz, but I thank you just the same!