Iceland – Reykjavik

Thursday 7th February

It was an early start for us this morning, I was picked up by Jim at 5:30 and off we headed to the car park at Linwood, as usual, despite having a Sat Nav in the car, Jim got a little bit lost and we had fun going round and round the roundabouts near the airport.

I was quite surprised when I saw Jim this morning, I thought he had gained a lot of weight since I last saw him, only to discover that he was wearing all his clothes rather than packing them and exceeding the carry on luggage allowance.

Our flight got away on time and we arrived in Reykjavik as scheduled, the landing was interesting as the plane had a few skids and bounces as it touched down, not sure if it was wind or ice, but a few people looked quite frightened. I suppose the welcoming bar of chocolate or coffee and cake compensated.

Once we arrived we took the shuttle bus into town, had a quick picnic lunch then had a wander around town until our room was ready. It was very pleasant strolling through the snow taking photographs with my new wide angle lens, I managed to find most of the good street art.

After dinner in the accommodation, we went out for a walk up around the Cathedral and was intrigued to see a fabulous light show and a bunch of folks dressed as Vikings who we then followed a torch-lit procession down to the Art Gallery to see a show all about their involvement in Iceland’s history. After the show, we returned tired and cold to the accommodation ready for an early night.

Friday 8th February

An early start again this morning to get our bus for a Golden Circle tour. On the tour our first stop was at the historic church at Skálholt, an impressive building with stunning stained glass windows, there was also a replica of the original church on the site.

We then moved on to the Geysir geothermal area where we heard the bubbling of the mud pots, smelled the sulfur in the air and watched as the geyser Strokkur blasted boiling water into the air, due to the high wind it was blown almost horizontal rather than straight up into the air.

Next stop was at the awesome Gullfoss waterfall, it was very cold when we were there, so much so, that the majority of the falls were frozen over. We then moved on to Geyser to see the surrounding geothermal area, the high winds and the cold made it difficult to get decent photographs.

We then headed to Thingvellir National Park to see the geological wonders of the fissure zone where 2 major tectonic plates meet and there were massive chasms which looked spectacular.  This was where the early Viking settlers founded the Althingi parliament, the ancient seat of government of Iceland and the location of the Prime Ministers summer home, it certainly wasn’t summer when we visited, it was blowing a hooley.

On our return to Reykjavik, we had a couple of beers and dinner before heading out again for our Northern Lights tour, we were very lucky to spot a wonderful display on the journey. We then went to Vatnsholt to a roadside hotel for a coffee break but unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any more light displays. It was extremely cold here, around -15°C with the wind chill, that and the strong winds made photography difficult.  We returned to town around midnight tired but happy after a busy and very enjoyable day.

Saturday 9th February

A leisurely start today, we had a stroll down to the harbour area and boarded the Hop on Hop off sightseeing bus, this gave us the chance to see and hear about the sights of Reykjavik and to choose where we wanted to spend some more time.  We headed for the old harbour area where we visited the Whales of Iceland museum, while in the harbour area we went to Reykjavik’s flea market for a bowl of highly recommended Icelandic Lamb soup in the cafeteria there.

We then went back on the bus to return to Perlan, Perlan is an experience centre built on 6 redundant water tanks, which introduces Icelandic nature in unique, high-tech ways. The building houses exhibits, a Planetarium, an Observation Deck, a gift shop, a restaurant and a cafe where we enjoyed a nice coffee and the spectacular views of the city.

We finally got off the bus at Haspa where we visited an Innovation Exhibition and another version of the Museum of the Moon which I had seen in Glasgow last year. we then headed back to the accommodation room a meal and a few beers.

Sunday 10th February

After a long lie this morning we headed up to the Cathedral for a visit, it really is a stunning building with very clean lines and no ostentation. I took the chance to wander the area taking photographs of some street art then it was time for lunch, Jim chose to go to a local restaurant for a traditional Icelandic Fish Stew washed down with a local beer, it was a very nice meal indeed.

The remainder of the day we spend walking the streets locating and photographing the street art I had seen on the internet, there certainly was plenty of it and we covered around 16k on our walk, we even had a chance to walk across the frozen lake in the centre of town. We went back to the accommodation for a wee rest before our evening meal at a Vietnamese restaurant and a couple of beers in the hotel before a well earned nights sleep.

Monday 11th February

Another early start to get ready for our airport pick up, which went smoothly. The temperature rose and it started to rain this morning, so I think we were leaving at the right time and that we had seen Iceland in its winter glory.  We had a bit of time to kill at the airport and we spent it looking back over our time in Iceland, we both thoroughly enjoyed our stay and there were many highlights, mine was capturing images of the Northern lights and the amount of good street art, Jim’s was the wind and extreme cold at the Gullfoss waterfall and visiting the various museums. I’m sure I’ll make a return trip in the future to see it in summer.