Iceland, Reykjavik City Tour, 13th August 2012

Today was the day for a Reykjavik city tour.  The city is not an old city with lots of old buildings, tombs or the like.  This is partly because the Icelanders built stone and thatch or sod roofed dwellings.  These, we were told, had a life of around 35-40 years after which they started to fall apart.  Once this started to happen it was easier to build a new one rather than repair the old one.

The oldest building in Reykjavik is wooden and was built in the late 1800’s.  With a distinct lack of forest trees on the island today, most buildings are corrugated iron clad or cement block in construction.  Many are painted white, cream or varying shades of grey.

View over part of Reykjavik, Iceland  (P1000855 © DY of jtdytravel)

Buildings often have blue, green, red or grey painted roofs.  Collectively, they present a much cheerier landscape than the rather dull greys of the Shetlands and Orkneys.

We saw the President’s residence. He has just been re-elected for the 5th, 4 year term by an overwhelming majority.

An old stone church   (P1000856 © DY of jtdytravels)

This old stone church is near the front entrance to the President’s home.

Hallgrimskirkja from the Perian Complex  (P1000852 © DY of jtdytravels)

There are a couple of really very striking modern buildings around town including the main Lutheran church.  This church has dramatic, clean lines and is stark but beautiful in its simplicity.

The imposing Hallgrimskirkja  (P1000827 © DY of jtdytravels)

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Another view of Hallgrimskirkja and a planter tub  (P1000828 © DY of jtdytravels)

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The front facade of Hallgrimskirkja  (P1000832 © DY of jtdytravels)

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Looking towards the main entrance door and organ loft  (P1000843 © DY of jtdytravels)

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The simple alter  (P1000840 © DY of jtdytravels)

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A side aisle  (P1000837 © DY of jtdytravels)

The clean architectural lines make for some interesting patterns.

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One of two icons towards the front of the cathedral  (P1000841 © DY of jtdytravels)

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The other icon  (P1000842 © DY of jtdytravels)

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Some of the only colour in the Cathedral  (P1000844 © DY of jtdytravels)

The city centre is also interesting with its corrugated iron clad buildings, many painted in strong colours.  The docks and harbour are an important part of the city because the island has always depended on the sea for fishing and the transport of goods. It was good to wander around even though it was a showery day – but with a coat and hat, it was not unacceptable for getting around.

We ate dinner at a restaurant at the Hilton which is just a 5 minute walk from our hotel. It was a beautiful meal which was served by an attentive staff which obviously appreciated their surrounds and took pride in their jobs.  Whether this is because of training or not, I don’t know.  It is so different from the Grand Hotel Reykjavik, which is grand only by name.  The staff was sloppy, don’t clear plates or replenish coffee pots as they empty.  Chairs are not placed neatly at tables and one chair I can see from my window has been lying on its side since I arrived 3 days ago.

There are only 2 of 3 soap dispensers working in my bathroom, one bracket is there but nothing on it, and the spare toilet paper holder fell off the wall yesterday.  On returning to my room yesterday afternoon, it had been picked up but just placed on a ledge.  I wonder how long before it will be reattached to its rightful place?  Attention to detail is all it takes – and a pride in your work.  Perhaps I’m getting picky, but when you are paying for the ‘best available’…

I decided I would opt out of the afternoon’s activities. The flu/cold that took over the African bus had caught up with me – or was it the overly hot buildings and vehicles in Iceland, compared to the cold outside, that caused my demise?!  Hot and sweaty one minute, then quite cold the next- it was not good for my constitution.  D

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