On our first full day in Iceland we toured the quaint and lovely city of Reykjavik (pronounced rake ee uh vik). It really seemed more like a town. Our apartment was only a few easy blocks away from the downtown area—close enough to walk, far enough not to hear the very late night partying. Before hopping on the hop on, hop off bus, we found to our amusement a U.S Coast Guard tall ship docked in the harbor. Okay, come thousands of miles to tour a Coast Guard ship that hails from Connecticut. But on to the local landmarks…

First stop, the Iceland National Museum. They have collections from waaaaay back when the Vikings landed and kicked the little Irish monks out. I was delighted to get some history lessons here as well as see the fascinating works of art they created. The Vikings called the monks, Papar.  Now I see where the words papist, pastor, father, etc. could possible have come from. There were cases full of weapons, jewelry, household goods, and more. But what really got me was the collection of horns. Some were drinking horns and others made to hold gunpowder. They were stunning—carved from wood and ivory in delicate, beautiful patterns. The Vikings also carved chests, door posts, chairs, and other items. There were also sections that covered how Christianity came to Iceland and seemingly spread fast and far. Some of that had to do to with the democratic society set up in ancient Iceland—but more of that later. In any event, the the Lutherans won out in the end. A great stop on our tour—the museum was two thumbs up!

So back to the hop on, hop off bus and our next stop, the Perlan. The Perlan is an observation deck, restaurant, and saga museum that of course—why not—sits on top of several very large water tanks high up on a hill with a view over the entire city. It was a sunny, perfect day to see the colors of the Lupin flowers (weed actually) laid out in front of the cityscape and ocean beyond. I dragged my fellow travelers into the saga museum which consisted of some interesting exhibits of various characters from real life Icelandic history as well as their epic sagas. Just in case you’re not sure what a saga is, it’s a fictional story about bigger-than-life characters from around the turn of the first millennium. These sagas were written about 700-800 years ago and are a chief source of pride for many Icelanders. I have read a few and while interesting, they aren’t quite as exciting as Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings (or even Beowulf for that matter). The style of the story telling is unique but it does give you a sense of the mind of an ancient Icelandic author telling an old tale. The museum was interesting enough. Kind of like the sagas—not quite Disney World but worth a trip (in my opinion).

So after the museums and scanning the city from far above, we ran to catch the bus. The bus driver lady was a bit put out by having to wait an extra 20 seconds while I hobbled my way to the door in my big ol’ ski boot (see previous post about bum leg). We all agreed that we didn’t think she liked her job too much.

Oh well, time for lunch and a chance to sample the menu at the highly recommended Icelandic Fish and Chips restaurant. The food was very tasty and the customer service was good (they were helpful about my leg—unlike a certain bus driver). My fish was a bit watery for me but good nonetheless (the sauces that came with it were good) and lots of people love it.

Now off to the Hallgrims church. First we had to wait for a funeral to end, but then we got to go in to explore and rode up to the top where there was an observation deck that kind of reminded me of the one in the Washington Monument. The views were fantastic of course and the church itself was a wonder of modern architecture. I’ve actually never seen a church that had windows in the front. It also had a huge pipe organ. Quite pretty.

From there we walked on home. While walking down our street, several cats came out to say hello. I wasn’t sure if they were feral and looking for a treat or just friendly like their human counterparts. One night when Amy and I came home I swear we were being seduced by a little “hooker” cat. She was standing on the corner and when she saw us, came right over and meowed. I patted her but Amy (smartly so) said with a smile, “I’m not touching that thing.” Little miss prostitute cat then ran ahead of us and proceeded to lie down and roll around showing us all her pretty parts like she was displaying her wares. Yup. Hooker cat.

We spent a relaxing night at the apartment laughing and having a dinner that was a tasty mix of cheese and fruit from the store—too tired to go out! Next up…the “magic bus” and the Golden Circle Tour.

 
 

Amy emerging from the Icelandic Fish and Chips restaurant

 
 
 

Butter and Jen do the sailor impression. Lots of fishermen in Iceland!

 

The street we lived on. Quaint sitting places dotted the area.

 

Hallsgrim Church. Some reseblance to the basalt rock formations off the coast.

 

The Perlan

 

The observation deck of the Perlan. The windows reflect the pretty sky.

 

The good ol hop on hop off double decker bus.

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