A mix of places in Reykjavik July 13-22, 2021. We stayed at Castle House Luxury apartments by Tjornin (the city pond). There are lovely private gardens in Reykjavik. The boat being painted in the shipyard was almost finished in a week. Pity we didn’t get time to climb up the Perlan dome to see the view. We were running around looking for where we had parked the car instead of sightseeing on the last evening.
Here is Marc’s 8 best things to see in Reykjavik:
- To call Reykjavik a city is a bit of an exaggeration. With a population of barely 123,000 I would call it a large town. Apart from the Hallgrimskirkja (the cathedral in the center of town) the tallest buildings are new glass apartment blocks along the shore side of town. Reykjavik has the appeal of a small town. The town center hasn’t been developed like more populous cities with their steel and glass monoliths. Reykjavik still has many one family houses built around the end of nineteenth and early twentieth century. Most have exterior walls of corrugated iron and are painted in a riot of colors. Some are lucky enough to have enough space on their lots for gardens which they take full advantage of by planting as many flowers plants and shrubs as can fit.
- All the Icelanders we met were friendly. Just about everyone speaks fluent English. Perhaps better than I from N.Y.C. There are also many British and American ex pats working there.
On our last day there we parked on a street many blocks behind the cathedral only to forget where it was later that evening. Sherry was beside herself for her laptop and binoculars were in the car. After wandering the streets for hours, we went to a police station for help, thinking that it might have been towed or worse stolen. Then two young policewomen drove us around the area for over an hour but with no results. They said they would keep an eye out for it that night. We returned to our rooms in a most depressed state. At 5 A.M. the front door buzzed and there were the two blond policewomen with the news that they had found the car and forth with they drove us to it. With an hour to spare before leaving for the airport. We wrote a a glowing review and thanks. I hope their captain sees it.
- Iceland has some of the best restaurants on any side of the Atlantic. Their lamb is internationally renowned. It is the sweetest best tasting lamb on Earth. There are 800.000 sheep in Iceland and only about 323.000 Icelanders. The sheep roam freely over the island feeding on the lush green fields of grass that grow up the sides of the extinct volcanos. In Iceland lamb is inexpensive compared to here. If one is going to Iceland for a trip of a lifetime, I recommend dining at the better restaurants for the exceptional cuisine. Guide to Iceland booked us excellent rooms and dinners at some of the best restaurants. Two of the finest in Reykjavik are Kopar at the harbor and the Sjavargrillio seafood grill restaurant.
- A walk along the shore drive at Saltjarnes is a must for birdwatchers. There is a parking area near the light house. There are fields full of nesting Terns and other birds.
- a short boat ride to Videy island less than a mile offshore. In the 18th c. this was the home of an early governor of Reykjavik. The island is covered with deep grass, cliffs of basalt columns, and thousands of birds. The Governor’s mansion has been turned into a part museum and part restaurant where they offer of course lamb on the menu. By then we were trying to save on lunches so did not imbibe. All along our drive we usually had lunch out the back of our S.U.V.
- Then there is the closest thing to a skyscraper in Reykjavik, the Hallgrimskirkja. The façade of this Lutheran church mimics the great basalt columns that can be seen in many places along the shores of this isle. In keeping with the tenants of Lutheranism the interior is stark compared to other churches you may have seen before. But this is one of the beauties of this great interior space. After entering turn to face the entry and see above you the pipes of one of the most magnificent organs which ascends several stories in height. Forget the elevator up the tower for a view of the town, what for?
- For me it is the bookstores. Many shops don’t open until 10 am and close early. It is said that at least a third of the populous are writers and poets. Of course, you can also find the Sagas and books about them. Sherry bought an expensive book on the birds of Iceland. We saved the receipts to get a tax refund at the airport.
- The Handknitting Association of Iceland shop where they sell apparel hand knit by Icelanders using fine Icelandic wool. The quality of their work is exceptional and is priced accordingly. There are many other shops selling the popular Icelandic sweaters, but none can claim to be “handmade”. There are also thrift shops where one can find sweaters in almost new condition at a fraction of their original cost.