Iceland 2015: Reykjavik

This is the first post on our trip to Iceland. See Day 2 next.

Day 1, May 30: Reykjavik

Icelandic flag at ThingvellirWe arrived in the early morning in Iceland and took a shuttle to Hotel Fron in Reykjavik. Before our flight, I had heard someone warn that the area around the airport is a bit disappointing compared to the rest of Iceland–that it is like “being on the moon”. That turned out to be pretty accurate. The landscape was rocky and barren, with bulbous outcroppings from the lava flows. A short scrub grass grew in some areas, but there were very few trees.

We reached the city around 7am, so not too surprisingly there was not a room ready for us yet at the hotel. We left our luggage and wandered out in the cool, gray day. The thermometer on the bus had said 8′ C, and with the wind blowing it got quite chilly at times.

Deserted streets before 7AM on a Saturday morning

Reykjavik's main landmarkA typical Icelandic businessman? We found breakfast at Bakari Sandholt, which was quite delicious. The city center is quite small, in about an hour we walked by half a dozen statues, the pond, and eventually made our way to the Information center. We bought the City Card day pass to get cheaper entrance to many of the museums, and then toured the Settlement Exhibition, the National Museum of Iceland, and the National Art Gallery. The settlement was most interesting, and is based around the foundation of an old long house. The National Museum had an assortment of interesting artifacts from throughout Iceland’s history. The art museum was a disaster filled with modern art. This is the sort of thing that pushed their Viking ancestors into a blood rage.

The pondThe pondThinking literary thoughtsSheep are front page news.

After that we wanted something different, so we took the ferry over to Videy island, about a 15 minute ride from the old harbor. We weren’t quite sure what we would find there, and the answer is not much. There were a few old buildings from a farm, Yoko Ono’s Peace Tower (which we never found), and a network of trails leading through the meadows and hills (and A LOT of wind).

Vidney IslandHelfpul signs?Vidney IslandA bit of sun

The island was covered in short grass, with an array of basalt pillars scattered around, which disappointingly were installed by an artist recently, not by ancient Vikings. We explored quite a bit of the island, covering about two thirds of it. There wasn’t really that much to see, but it was a nice change from dark museums, and gave us some good views back over to the city.

Reykjavik from Vidney Island

After two hours on the island (3:30-5:30) we went back to the hotel. We were too tired to do a real dinner, so I ran out to our bakery again to buy some sandwiches. Then we went to bed early (around 7), after having been up for about 32 hours straight!

This is the first post on our trip to Iceland. See Day 2 next, and find more here.

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