6 of 6 of the New York Botanical Gardens. I know the frog isn’t a scene. I like frogs so I included it.
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.
The horses near Kysuvic were a treat. We explored the coastline and stopped at the cliffs of Krýsuvíkurbjarg. The Krýsuvíkurbjarg cliffs are renowned as a birding spot. The weather was a bit rough so we didn’t see many birds. The terns are nesting and they bombarded us when we came near.
Kyusavic church belongs to the Hafnarfiord benefice in the Kjalarnes deanery. It was built in 1857, renovated and reconsecrated in 1964 and handed over to the National Museum.
Arsonists set the church on fire during the night of January 2nd 2010. It burnt totally down. During the last few years, the church was used for services twice a year and was popular among tourists according to its guest book. Krysuvik Church was built again 2020.
July 18, we set out from Akureyri. The GPS point was probably meant as a guide not a destination was in the middle of the Troll peninsula. To get there we took a dirt road that definitely needed the 4×4. Some stretches of road are very steep and required us to use truck mode (auto braking for steep inclines) so that it could handle going down the almost 45 degree incline. Some hair-raising stuff! Believe it or not there were a few houses way off in the distance in the valleys.
We eventually made it to the shore road for more driving along the steep cliffs past Siglufjordur, Hofsos with its hexagonal basalt columns, and Holar (next post). Except for some of challenging driving this was a moreover relaxing day. I did some cliff road driving too.
We saw three grand waterfalls on July 14. In the Golden Circle the first waterfall was Gullfoss. Guide to Iceland’s video (our travel agent) is excellent. On route 1, the Ring Road, on the way to Vik in South Iceland we stopped at Seljalandsfoss. We climbed up behind the fall. It was not an easy climb because it is steep and slippery. It was a relief to make it to the top. Running out of time as usual we stopped for a 10 minute photo shoot of Skógafoss. I would have liked to climb up to have a different view – but not time! Check out that video too.
It was pouring rain and it was hard to tell what was waterfall and what was rain. I had brought along plenty of rain gear because I knew Iceland has a lot of rain in the summer. The saying is if you wait a minute the weather will change, which is true.
- There are 4 sheep to every Icelander. Population of Iceland is 361,313 (2019) which is about half the population of Alaska. About 800,000 sheep is a lot of lamb dinners and wool sweaters! Fun facts about the sheep.
- Norwegian or Garden Angelica (Angelica archangelica) is found everywhere. We noticed flies like the sweet sap. An intersting article about it. It can be edible Nature News: Angelica looms large in Iceland and New England (seacoastonline.com)
“Due to the presence of the fatty acid exaltolide, angelica root extracts have a musky aroma and the root is used for flavoring foods and beverages. This plant appears very ornamental with wide, pinned hairy leaves and clusters of white to greenish-white or yellow-green umbrella-like flowers. The history behind the name of the herb is interesting. It is said that in ancient times, the root of the plant was brought to earth by a monk for the treatment of plague.”