Reykjavík, Iceland

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  • 1. Reykjavík, Iceland
    August – September 2011
  • 2. Reykjavík – Population 120,165
    Over two-thirds of Iceland’s entire population lives in the greater Reykjavík area, with a total population of 200,825.
  • 3.
  • 4. Höfði House
    Site of the 1986 summit between US President Reagan and Soviet President Gorbachev to discuss nuclear disarmament. Built in the Jugend style, 1909.
  • 5. Sólfar (Sun Voyager) by sculptor Jón Gunnar Árnason
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  • 7. Árnarhóll
    Looking towards the Þjóðmenningarhúsið (Culture House) and Þjóðleikhúsið (National Theatre). The statue is of IngólfurÁrnason, the first Norse settler of Iceland in 873. He named the settlement Reykjavík (literally “smoky bay”) because of the region’s geothermal steam.
  • 8. Harpa
    The brand-new concert hall inspired by the Northern Lights. Landscaping was still under construction when I visited. A controversial project because of the high price tag.
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  • 11. Cod Wars with Great Britain
    1958, 1972-3, 1975-6
    A stand-off over fishing rights off Iceland’s coast, pitting Britain’s Royal Navy against Iceland’s coast guard of three (yes, three) little coast guard ships. Iceland has no navy or military.
    Iceland’s coast guard cut the nets of British fishing trawlers, leading to confrontations and intentional ramming between ships. No lives or ships were lost and Iceland’s stand led to international protections of fishing rights for small nations.
  • 12.
  • 13. A city of fantastic fresh fish….
    fish ‘n’ chip shop Sagreifinn
  • 14. Árbærjarsafn Open Air Museum
    One of the region’s original Norse farms, Árbær is now a museum of historic buildings from Reykjavík. The farm is mentioned in the Icelandic Sagas. Looking towards the original farm buildings.
  • 15. After the conversion of Iceland to Christianity in 1000, any wealthy Norse farm built a church for the community. The walls and roof are made of turf.
  • 16.
  • 17. Inside the farm’s original turf house. The family lived in this one room, which includes a sleeping loft and is connected to the barn.
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  • 20. Harðfiskur – wind dried salted fish. Iceland’s economy once depended on the fruits of the sea, preserved by drying and salting.
  • 21. Alþing – Iceland’s Parliament
    Site of the 2008-2009 “Pots and Pans Revolution” when thousands protested against their politicians and the three major banks for causing the country’s economic collapse and devaluation of the krónur.
  • 22.
  • 23. Austurvöllur – park square in front of the Alþing
  • 24. Tjörnin Lake and City Hall
  • 25. Ráðhús(City Hall) – larger than the national Alþing!
  • 26. Hallgrímskirkja
    Modern church designed by GuðjónSamúelsson and built of concrete. Started in 1940 and completed in 1974.
    The vertical columns are meant to resemble volcanic basalt columns. A controversial project – not everyone likes the design.
    Volcanic basalt columns on a beach on Viðey Island.
  • 27. Inside the Gothic-style nave
  • 28. Statue of Leif Erikson, donated by the United States in 1930
  • 29. An Icelandic sandwich at Café Loki – flatkakameðhangikjöt(flatbread with smoked lamb.)
  • 30.
  • 31. A city of artists! Even the street barricades are painted with whimsy.
  • 32.
  • 33. Yes, these graffiti artists had permission….
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  • 36. Kolaportið Flea Market
    Best place on the weekend to browse for Icelandic wool sweaters, used books, second-hand clothing, toys, crafts, even food. I scored three used Harry Potter books translated into Icelandic.
  • 37.
  • 38. Tjörnin Lake
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  • 47. Reykjavík’s Café Culture
    Strong, dark coffee, quirky cafes throughout the city, friendly baristas, and piles of newspapers. At night, cafes morph into bars with beer and live music.
  • 48. Kofi TómasarFrænda
  • 49. Hemmi & Valdi
  • 50.
  • 51. View of Laugavegur from Hemmi & Valdi, one of my favorite cafes
  • 52. The Laundromat Cafe
  • 53. Prikið – one of Reykjavík’s oldest cafes
  • 54.
  • 55. ViðeyIsland – A 5 minute ferry ride from Reykjavík
  • 56. Locals picking wild caraway.
    Viðey was home to a medieval Augustinian monastery until the Reformation. Lutheran Denmark, which controlled Iceland until WW2, shut down the monastery and seized all their wealth. A Catholic bishop, JónArason, staged his last stand on the island – he was beheaded in 1550.
  • 57. A modern day Atlantis?
    An optical illusion – city of Akranes on the horizon.
  • 58.
  • 59. Sundbakki – abandoned village on Viðey
    A fish processing company set up on the island in 1907 and the company town of Sundbakki formed, home to 138 at its peak in 1930. When the company failed in 1931, people slowly began to move away. The last person left in 1943.
  • 60.
  • 61. Sundbakki also served as the harbor, before Reykjavík built its own modern harbor. Charles Lindbergh even landed his floatplane here in 1933.
    On this grassy shore, the town’s women laid out hundreds of salted fish to be wind-dried.
  • 62. Reykjavík across the bay
  • 63. Ferry back to the city
  • 64. Iceland - a nation of musicians. 12 Tónar is my favorite music shop for browsing the latest in Icelandic music beyond Björk and SigurRós. Some of my discoveries: Rökkurró, Hjaltalín, Sin Fang and Rabbi ogRúnar
  • 65. At Café Rosenberg, listening to folk rock band My Sweet Baklava
  • 66. Quirky Icelandic sense of humor….
    A sign above the accessible seats on the city bus – “Þúertekkieinn” (You are not alone) – is that a cameo by Munch’s The Scream?
  • 67.
  • 68. Ráðhús
  • 69. Reykjavík Domestic Airport
    Legacy of the World War 2 air base used by the British and Americans. Iceland has no military, so the Allies occupied the country. Today domestic flights, as well as flights to Greenland and the Faroe Islands, depart from this airport only a 3 minute bus ride from the city center.
  • 70. Soundtrack of the city – constant buzzing aircraft.
  • 71. 871+/-2 Settlement Exhibition
    Discovered and excavated in 2001 below Reykjavík’s oldest street, this is believed to be the oldest known settlement in Iceland, a Viking longhouse dated to just after the volcanic eruption of 871. Possibly the original settlement of IngólfurÁrnarson.
  • 72. The soil records of Reykjavík include layers of ash. The many recorded eruptions of Iceland help archaeologists date their excavations. An eruption covered all of Iceland in ash in 871; Ingólfur set up the first permanent settlement in 873.
    871 “settlement era” ash
  • 73. ÞjóðminjasafnÍslands (National Museum)
    Viking era artifacts – a stone Madonna and Child, carved door posts, and drinking horns.
  • 74. Valþjófsstaður Door
    Only remaining Viking era carved church door. Carved around 1200, used up until 1851. Romanesque style.
  • 75. Chests and small boxes were hand carved and given as gifts, often mother to daughter, and became precious family heirlooms. The tradition started in Scandinavia 500 years ago and lasted into the 20th century. My own family has such an heirloom.
  • 76. A centuries-old tradition of literature.
    Iceland has its own heritage of medieval literature and manuscripts, called the handrítin. This includes the stories of the Sagas – tales of heroic deeds and treachery – as well as the law books, Book of Settlements, and poetry, such as the Eddas. Iceland’s Norse were world-famous as court poets (skalds) in the Middle Ages.
    Above: One of first 500 printed Bibles in Icelandic, “Guðbrandur’s Bible”
  • 77. Eymundsson – the national book chain. Today Iceland has the highest literacy rate in the world and an amazing amount of world literature is translated into Icelandic. Translation and writing are coveted careers. Reykjavík hosts their annual literary festival in September.
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  • 84. Autumn arrives in Reykjavík….
  • 85. View of the city from Öskjuhlið
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  • 88. Warm autumn day on Tjörnin Lake
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  • 90. Slumbering ducks
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  • 92. Northern Lights on Tjörnin Lake