Saturday, October 3, 2015

Reykjavík, Iceland

Where to go for vacation this summer?  We remembered the gorgeous photos we had seen of Iceland, and thought that would be the perfect place to escape the urban heat and humidity of August in Maryland.  So we planned a week-long trip to Iceland.  It's not a very large country (about the size of Ohio), but we didn't want to have to rush through our sightseeing, so we decided to just focus on seeing the western side of the country.  This turned out to be wise, since driving on the often-unpaved roads, with switchbacks up and down the mountains, took much longer than we expected.

(Note that you can click on any of the photos to enlarge them.)

Harpa concert hall (Reykjavík, Iceland)

Our first evening in Iceland was spent in Reykjavík. We wandered around the harbor area (near our hotel) and came across this dramatic building. It is Harpa, the new and award-winning concert hall. I loved the way the sun glinted off the glass panels.

Harpa concert hall (Reykjavík, Iceland)

Here is another view of the street side of Harpa concert hall. The design almost looks like a glass honeycomb.

From inside the Harpa concert hall (Reykjavík, Iceland)

From the inside of Harpa concert hall looking up through the crystalline ceiling, the effect of the light through the complex glass paneling is quite striking. It really is an unusual design. Plus, there was a very nice gift shop in the lobby.

Harpa concert hall (Reykjavík, Iceland)

This is the Harpa concert hall from the harbor side. Look at all the pretty colors reflected from the glass panels!

Troll puppets (Reykjavík, Iceland)

Icelandic folklore is full of tales of huldufólk (hidden people or elves) and other creatures, such as these larger-than-life trolls in front of one of the tourist shops. Many Icelanders still believe in the huldufólk -- there have been cases of construction work stopped or redirected so as not to disturb the elves living in that area. We saw one hill with a number of little wooden houses on it, which are often put out in Icelandic gardens for the huldufólk.

Of course, after seeing the wonderful troll puppets, we had to go into the shop, where Q found this adorable puffin hat. We resisted buying it, though it would have been quite the statement hat for him to wear to work.

Hallgrímskirkja (Reykjavík, Iceland)

We walked up to Hallgrímskirkja, the largest Lutheran church in Iceland. The modernist design is very striking, and apparently is meant to represent the basalt lava flows in the Icelandic landscape.  (You can see some amazing basalt columns from all over the world here.)  The interior of the church features an enormous, 5275-pipe organ (we didn't get to see the interior, though).

And on our way to Hallgrímskirkja, Q found a cat to pet.  The cat rests on a step reading "Love and Peace" -- an invitation to be petted, surely.

Apparently, cats rule Reykjavik. At least that is what the t-shirts claim.

One of the delightful aspects of visiting Iceland in the summer is the extended daylight hours. This photo was taken around 11:00pm -- the tail end of a long, lovely sunset on our first day in Iceland.

We took one last look at the sunset over the harbor as we walked back to our hotel.

1 comment:

  1. Some of those cats are really built for the Icelandic winter. The one of the steps had thick long fur that felt like wool.