Lucy Explores Iceland
The winding streets of Reykjavik are filled with cute little souvenir stores, shops selling cured fish and the infamous phallic museum (unfortunately, I didn’t check this one out). The surrounding areas are beautiful, and I’ve listed below my highlights from the week.
The Reykjavik coastline. If you head down to the coastline (about 5 minutes from the city-centre), you’ll be treated to a view of snow-capped mountains and views of Mount Esja in the distance. It’s a tranquil place to sit and take in your surroundings, and to watch tourists take their photo with the Viking ship sculpture. The Viking sculpture is a nod toward the history of the Vikings in Iceland, it is believed they were the first to settle in Iceland and begin the magical history that surrounds the country.
If you do have some free time, I’d definitely head to this Church of Iceland parish church. At first, we went toward the church purely because of it’s impressive structure, it’s a beautiful building. We then decided to look further and explore the Church some more, we accidentally crashed a choir practice, but it made it all the more fantastic to see the inside of this incredible building whilst at all it’s glory- organ playing and all. We opted to pay to be able to enjoy the views from the top of the church too (see above). We piled into a small lift and went up for what seemed like a lifetime. We finally reached the top, stepped out the lift into a very windy viewing platform, although we were still inside- the window holes simply contained bars, so we were pretty much out in the open and could see 360 views of the country. In the distance we could see Reykjavik, the sea, Mount Esja and we could even see the geysers too: all in all, it was lovely to spend some time up here and I thought it was well-worth the extra cost.
The Harpa Concert Hall
If you head down toward the other side of town, on another part of the coastline you’ll see this fantastic site. It’s an architectural masterpiece, made of hundreds of pieces of clear and coloured glass which beautifully reflects the surrounding sky and harbour. You can head into the hall, visit the shop and see some of the fantastic photos and videos all about Iceland’s history and landscape, as well as take a glance through the walls to another view of the beautiful harbour and viking museum.
We headed to Baejarins Beztu. This place makes fantastic hot dogs, and the likes of Bill Clinton and James Hetfield have eaten there. Usually, there’s a queue around the block for this place as it’s very well known, but luckily we made it at a time where there was no queue at all. They made us our first Icelandic hotdogs, and all I can say is this place is famous for a reason- the hot dogs are great.
Ravens Recycled House
My Gramps and I decided to head off for a walk toward Mount Esja, and we stumbled upon a weird and wonderful feature of Iceland. This house was previously owned by the singer Bjork and is now owned by Icelandic film director Hrafn Gunnlaughsson. It is home to a collection of sculptures made up of recycled/washed up materials, all set along the coastline. We walked along slippery rocks, covered in seaweed and sculptures, clambering over washed up boats and buoys too. It was such an intriguing and eery place to be, but we loved it, and it felt as though we were seeing something off-the-beaten-track.
We were lucky enough to see these incredible natural wonders in person. It’s a place you could spend a quick pit-stop, rather than heading there for the day- as once you’ve seen each of the geysers go off (which you can do in around 20 minutes) you’re pretty much ready to head onto the next thing. But it is such an incredible thing to see, and something that anyone visiting Iceland should try and get to.
The Blue Lagoon
The journey from Reykjavik to the Lagoon itself was around an hour, but allowed us to see even more of the beautiful landscape Iceland had to offer. We moved from coastal town to desert-like scenery, with clear streams of water with steam flying off it- a clear sign the blue lagoon was close by. We arrived in the blue lagoon, and it was already relatively dark at 3pm (being Winter in Iceland). We made our way through the blackened rocks, and suddenly we caught a glimpse of the stunning pool. The colour was incredible, especially against the black of the rocks- a bright light blue, even in the dark it really stood out. We made our way into the well-organised changing rooms, and were given our own wristband which worked as our locker key and our money (if we wanted to buy beers or snacks in the lagoon itself). We braved the cold blast of air as we went out into the pool and had a chance to swim about, experience the naturally varying temperatures (all relatively warm). We went and got our clay masks on, and headed to a quiet part of the lagoon where we could sit quietly, relax and admire the stars and scenery. After a while, we headed off for a Gull beer (probably one of the best beers I’ve ever had), a cold beer, warm bath and lovely company was a perfect way to spend the day. After a few hours, we were ready to head back in to get changed and make our way back to Reykjavik, through the inside door (!!) that I never realised was there on my way out! The blue lagoon was lots of fun, and I’d reccomend it to anyone.
We went here as part of the “Golden Circle Tour”, a day’s tour which included the waterfall, Thingvellir national park and the geysers. Gullfoss was probably my favourite part of the tour. You can walk right down toward the waterfall, to the point where you are soaking covered in the water being thrown up by this powerful natural feature. Being next to such an incredible force really felt as though you could feel the power bubbling up inside of you too. It was amazing, and a great chance to practice photography skills too (*unfortunately the photo below is not my incredible photo skills).
Thingvellir National Park
The national park is surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountains- something I couldn’t get enough of in Iceland. This national park is rather large, and unfortunately we didn’t have much time to walk around the whole place, but even the bits I did see were absolutey stunning. Thingvellir is known as a natural wonder on an international scale, it’s a unique entity and definitely something you should try and check out if you have a free day in Iceland. The reason for it being known as a natural wonder is it’s unusual location and terrain: It’s located on the mid-atlantic ridge, on the tectonic boundaries. It’s natural faults and fissures show the incredible reality of the ever-changing crust of the earth.
The stories, jokes and mystery of Iceland
From the Christmas Yule Lads to the beliefs of the giant trolls who followed the vikings to Iceland and turned to stone (forming the impressive landscape surrounding Iceland). This is something you have to ask a local about yourself- I wouldn’t be able to do their stories justice in a little blog like this. If you do get the chance, it’s well worth chatting to a local about their soties (each native seemed to have different stories for us!) and ask them to tell you the answer to the infamous joke, “how do you find a person who is lost in an Icelandic forest?”