Welcome to Iceland, or at the very least, welcome to our attempt to show you the nation as we see it. It’s official, you see. We’ve touched down, made land, and now have spent the better part of our first day here exploring the city center of Iceland’s capital city: Reykjavik. (We’re still not so great at reading or speaking Icelandic, but so far everyone’s been pretty forgiving of that, which is nice, and we are good at context clues, so, there’s that.)
As those of you who have read the last few posts may be aware, we had an overnight flight into Reykjavik, which means that I actually was awake to see the sunrise for once. Apparently sunrises are old hat for Mark, but I never get up that early (of my own free will), although I have had the occasion to see it from the opposite end more than once (I didn’t, by the way; I stayed inside and continued reading/writing/whatever I was staying up doing).
We pulled into the airport at 6:34 a.m. Icelandic time, despite our departure having been delayed in Minneapolis by nearly 40 minutes. The coast looks … pretty much how we expected the coast to look: rocky, and more brown than green. The water looks quite chilly, and we’ve been advised to wear a wetsuit if we plan on jumping in.
We weren’t able to check into our hotel right away, due to us bumbling around the airport trying to find out where to store Mark’s luggage for the next week (he’ll be living out of a backpack, which I could not do, so kudos to him). We did find it after some time, but we probably solidified the “incompetent tourist Americans” stereotype in the process. It didn’t help that there’s a lot of construction going on around the airport. But we did succeed, and we also found our bus after going to the wrong bus first. Oops. But hey, we made it.
Due to the fact that we couldn’t check into our hotel (but we could leave my suitcase in a storage closet until the afternoon check-in), we took a(n extremely) long walk around the city center. It’s a beautiful hodge-podge of architecture and color, and we (both being lovers of architecture) fell a little bit in love. While strolling (panting) up and down the streets and sidewalks, we began to notice the plethora of rainbow flags, decorations, and apparel (on the storefront mannequins). It turns out that we missed Reykjavík Pride 2015 by … wait for it … all of a day. It was yesterday. Seriously? Just our luck, right? I have to admit, I’m diggin’ the rainbow paint on the street, though. Think it’ll catch on in the States?
After strolling up and down the city streets, Mark caught a bit of the sea-longing and we headed toward the harbor, where he caught this beautiful panorama. There were dozens of sailboats coasting in the water, and the clouds over the rock formations simply added to the gorgeous view. I’ll admit we walked (and sat and talked) along this scenic view for hours. Can you blame us?
We also saw the incredible steeple of this cathedral rising from the rooftops while walking along the main street, and, being architecture nerds, were intrigued. It’s beautiful, no? Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get a photo of the inside because Mass was going on at the time. There were plenty of tourists blithely ignoring the posted “No talking! Mass going on!” signs, and we skedaddled as quickly as possible so as not to be lumped in with them.
There is art everywhere in this city, and it’s not always the traditional sort. There’s an astonishing amount of street art (and some graffiti), and Mark and I were constantly pointing out particularly well-done pieces. You’ll likely be seeing more photos of said pieces later. (I believe this is some sort of fish, but I’ve never seen one that looked quite like this. Maybe it’ll be one of our dishes to try here?)
A/N: Mark just picked up on the fact that the fish is shaped like the island of Iceland. I feel really blind right now, because I was completely unaware. Oops?
The art isn’t limited to the streets and buildings, however, since I received my first “piece” of latte art in a nearby coffee shop. Isn’t it adorable? (Mark agreed.)
Mark, the poor thing, forgot that Americano coffees are really tiny everywhere except in the States. My latte was easily twice the size, although we probably ended up with the same amount of caffeine. Mark decided to hide behind a book we pulled off a shelf in the coffee shop, “Why Don’t Penguins’ Feet Freeze?” We actually still don’t have an answer for that one, sorry.
We found the official city protest park, where all the major speechifying happens, and Mark caught a photo of Iceland’s newest mini-car. I don’t know if we could fit the two of us in that little thing, do you? But small is all the rage, now, right?
We also found the Harpa Concert Hall, where the Icelandic Symphonic Orchestra performs. Unfortunately for us, the symphony season won’t start up again until September. Blast. But we are planning on attending a show which promises to teach us “How to become Icelandic in 60 minutes.” It had better be telling the truth.
Ta for now!
Kit (and Mark)