‘Little Rock’ Category


Buy More Buckets

Originally published August 17, 2020 by Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – I’m stealing a line from Ellen Degeneres. I wish I had thought of it myself. In her book “Seriously…I’m Kidding,” Chapter Bucket List, #1 is “Buy More Buckets.” I laughed, out loud, but then I thought – what a really great idea! Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson kept adding to their list (in that movie); it was just a wadded piece of paper with scribbles, but it got them skydiving. And focused on something other than their ailments. They actually DID things, rather than being stuck in their predicament. But first they STATED things they wanted to do, they put them in WRITING, and tried to figure out HOW to do them. Ellen’s idea takes it even one step further. Buy more buckets! Come up with so many things you REALLY want to do that it takes more than one sheet of paper to write them all down.

It’s a neat concept, unless you prefer whining, moping, drinking and popping pills to get through your day. And the best thing about Bucket Lists is that they are Very Personal. They are yours and yours alone. Imagine lists and lists of your very own preferences, bucketloads of just what you want to do. Not what you SHOULD do, or what you think is appropriate for someone your age, gender, color, physical capabilities, or pocketbook. It’s what’s inside YOUR head, Magic Wand stuff. Because everything begins with an idea. Like “the wheel,” or “automobiles” or the computer or cell phone on which you are reading this post.

Which is why, of course, my current Bucket List has so many things that might appear unattainable, or unreasonable, for an 81-year-old woman living on a small retirement income with a really bum arthritic knee and  too much scar tissue from a mastectomy. Walking is slow, lifting heavy things is difficult, and I hate flying. I don’t have a lot of money and I don’t like crowds and I don’t like leaving little blue-eyed Katy cat.

But I also don’t want to die without walking on all seven continents, (don’t ask me why, it’s MY Bucket List) and cruising the longest river on every one of those continents. Already ticked off the list of impossibilities (or improbabilities): Living in all 50 US capital cities! Seeing the sun NOT set on the first day of summer within the Arctic Circle and the Antarctic Circle in the same year. Visiting the northernmost city in North America and the southernmost city in South America. Crossing the Andes in a taxi. Standing at the westernmost point on the EuroAsia land mass. Watching the sun set behind the Sahara dunes. And that’s just some of the TRAVEL wishes fulfilled. The FULL LIFE list is even more awesome to me. Having sons! Having grandchildren! Writing books! Planting trees! Learning to water ski! Getting meringue to peak!

Now back to the NDI RTW I’ve been writing about. It WAS a real trip, as it began. All my sons and my working grandchildren were invited to join me at any point along the way in a country they might want to visit; the two youngest just graduating high school accepted my invitation to join me in Iceland. All the hotels were booked, and the flights as far as New Zealand, when the bomb dropped. On February 29 I learned of the first COVID-19 case in the US. We kept watching progression, and hoping for a miracle. But as “stay at home” became the norm, and borders were closed, reality sank in. And when the US State Department Global Health Advisory – Level 4 Do Not Travel email arrived on March 19, I called a halt.

But the thing about Bucket Lists is – they are adaptable. I couldn’t actually leave on July 7, as planned, but I COULD imagine it. It’s been fun writing about all the places I still want to visit, and imagining myself doing all the things on my List. It has kept me happy, and upbeat. I can see the crowd at the airport as we trudged wearily off the plane and down the walkway last night (well, maybe I’d have asked for a wheelchair, they ARE handy and much faster than my arthritic walk). And ALL of my family would have been there to greet me; friends too, in fact, so many people waving signs and banners welcomed us back that other passengers gathered round too, and cheered. Strangers I’ll never meet have photos of Kayla and Sam and me, all frazzled and travel stinky, in their cell phone storage now, because, What Was That? An Old Woman and Two Teens just did something awesome, apparently.

Watch for my plane leaving Clinton National as soon as travel becomes feasible once again, and “seeing the world” is safe. My foot is going to wade in that Indian Ocean. And I’m going to cruise the Yangtze River, and the Volga. And the Amazon. I know, because I have them on my Bucket List.

Meanwhile I’m headed for Lowe’s today (mask on, of course) to buy more buckets.


Final Glide

Originally published August 16, 2020 by Linda Lou Burton posting about Washington, DC from Little Rock, Arkansas – This is it. Today is the end of the NDI RTW. Tonight, I sleep in my own bed after 40 days of almost non-stop travel. I wonder if Katy cat will even remember me. But this morning I woke up in Washington, DC with two of my grandchildren, and this reality: our flight to Little Rock, the only DIRECT flight available (and I couldn’t bear going through Atlanta) didn’t depart until 6 PM. And the three of us were burnt out on DC sightseeing. So what could be better than a nice calm boat ride on the Potomac River to Mt Vernon? We were in agreement, up and packed and checked out by 8; at the Water Taxi dock in time to leave at 9.

The trip was a pleasant ride, the Washington skyline, a stop in Alexandria, and then ashore by 10 at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. “You just added Virginia to your state count,’” I told Kayla and Sam. We had four hours of our own time to wander; George and Martha’s home, their tomb, the farm and farm animals, a gristmill and distillery, the Mount Vernon Inn for lunch. Though there are a few museums there, we went to something called Be Washington, an interactive movie theater. “Step into Washington’s shoes. What would YOU do? Your daring plan of crossing the Delaware River paid off with great military victories. As Commander In Chief, are you willing to do it again and risk your men’s lives? The Battle of Second Trenton, The Newburgh Conspiracy, The Genet Affair, The Whiskey Rebellion – all tests of your “presidential decision-making capacity.” That was entertaining!

Back at the DC dock at 3:30; a taxi to Reagan Airport, and now we’re flying. Will everything happen that we’re expecting? Kayla’s Dad Rick has been at my house all week, cat-sitting Katy and, I hope, spiffing things up and laying groceries in; that was part of the deal. Sam’s Dad Scott flew in yesterday; my oldest son Mike, and Brenda, picked him up at the airport as they arrived by car from Colorado, so the four of them have had an evening together. Did they make banners? Did they buy balloons? I just trekked around the world at age 81. I want adulation, and cheers! At the least a hand sparkler or two.

I think we’re over Tennessee now. Sam and Kayla have nodded off. We are all exhausted.

I’m ready to be home.


Then Let’s Do That

Originally published August 15, 2020 by Linda Lou Burton posting about Washington, DC from Little Rock, Arkansas – It has been said there are so many museums in DC you’d need to live here and visit one a day for a year to see them all. We didn’t have a year, and to tell you the truth, our bodies were beginning to feel the effects of walking, standing, and getting jostled in crowds. Not to mention brain overload! Particularly MINE, I’ve been “on the move” since July 7. When reviewing the possibilities this morning, we all sighed. Nobody wanted to do the Hop On Hop Off bus, and Fodor’s list of Top 25 Sights didn’t excite us a bit. Yes, we want to do it all. But not today.

“Just throw a dart,” Sam said. Kayla had a suggestion too, “You’ve been here so many times GMom, what do you think we’d like best?” I gave a qualified answer, “I can tell you what impressed me the most, and what sticks in my mind even though I saw it years ago.” “Then let’s do THAT,” they both said, before I even told them what it was.

The National Archives, https://www.archives.gov/

I chose the National Archives first because it is the repository of “US History” like nothing else. If you want to go straight to the horse’s mouth – it is HERE. In one room, in one building, you can see the original founding documents of the United States. The room is the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, and it is the permanent home of three documents that are instrumental to the founding and philosophy of the United States.

  • The Declaration of Independence, written in 1776, announces a complete break with Britain and expresses the ideals on which the United States was founded: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
  • The Constitution is the supreme law of the United States. These four large sheets of parchment define the framework and powers of the Federal Government. Written in 1787, the Constitution established an ingenious practical system of government that derives its power from “We the People of the United States” and promotes the welfare of all its citizens.
  • The Bill of Rights protects freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly, among many other rights. The document on permanent display in the Rotunda is the enrolled original Joint Resolution passed by Congress in 1789, proposing 12 amendments to the Constitution. The 10 that were ratified became known as the Bill of Rights.

The documents are sealed in the most scientifically advanced housing that preservation technology can provide; the windowless Rotunda is carefully cooled; no sunshine and no photography allowed. Elsewhere in the building are many other important American historical items, including the Articles of Confederation, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, the Emancipation Proclamation, and collections of photography and other historically and culturally significant American artifacts. Seeing all those original signatures excited us the most.

The National Gallery of Art, https://www.nga.gov/

The National Gallery of Art is just across the street from the Archives, and houses more than 150,000 paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, photographs, prints, and drawings spanning the history of Western art. It was my second choice for two reasons – when Sam and Kayla were small, we visited many art museums in Seattle and they always left “sparkly-eyed” and smiling. They talked about what they had seen, and usually got the crayons out as soon as they got home. The second reason for my choice was selfish; I wanted to be there again. I remember clearly my stop in front of a particularly magnificent Rembrandt in 1998, it left me breathless. The reds were so vivid; the depth of the painting so astonishing, I just kept looking. I knew, without question, that we’d be happier after visiting there today. Plus it is so well organized, the displays can be enjoyed without jostling. And we needed that.

The Gallery’s Sculpture Garden was really fun, odd and wonderful sights, Kayla kept snapping photos, and Sam, who has learned welding, was fascinated by all the metal pieces, such as Halegua’s, America, 1970, a 25-ft steel construction. https://www.nga.gov/collection/sculpture-garden.html I didn’t think I’d get them to leave, but they finally got hungry. Lunch at the Pavilion Café, overlooking the gardens and grounds; in the winter, there’s an ice rink!

We hopped on the free shuttle and rode the few blocks to the Washington Monument. I wanted pictures of them standing beneath, with the White House in view across the Ellipse. I have a picture of their Dads standing there together, all jacketed up; it was the Christmas holidays and there were reindeer on the Mall, and a Christmas tree from every state. Not a single barricade, as there are today.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing https://www.moneyfactory.gov/home.html

I kept my third choice a surprise; they didn’t know where we were headed until I told our taxi driver. I chose the “Money Factory” for two reasons also. On a summer visit to DC when their Dads were very young, we toured this money-making facility and they still talk about it today. I thought Sam and Kayla would be equally fascinated – the process is actually quite interesting, and involved. PLUS, most young-people-just-entering-the-workforce are obsessed with money; how to get it, spend it, and keep it.

“Have you ever paid attention to what a dollar bill LOOKS like?” I asked. “It’s a pretty intricate design.” They looked at me. Hmmm. Well now they know. We got to see millions of dollars being printed; the tour overlooks the production floor. And they learned these facts about a dollar bill:

  • The first $1 notes called “Legal Tenders” were issued by the federal government in 1862 and featured a portrait of Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase (1861-1864).
  • The first use of George Washington’s portrait on the $1 note was on Series 1869 United States Notes.
  • The first $1 Federal Reserve notes were issued in 1963. The design, featuring George Washington on the face and the Great Seal on the back, has not changed.
  • Because the $1 note is infrequently counterfeited, the government has no plans to redesign this note. In addition, there is a recurring provision in Section 116 of the annual Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act that prohibits the redesign of the $1 note.
  • Of all the notes printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the $1 note makes up about 45% of currency production.
  • The Fiscal Year 2018 Yearly Currency Order contains 2.2 billion $1 notes.
  • If you had 10 billion $1 notes and spent one every second of every day, it would require 317 years for you to go broke.

Imagine that! Last choice of the day I also kept as a surprise. We picked up some items from the Market in our hotel and grabbed a bite to eat in our room before One Last Thing. I wanted them to see the monuments after dark.

The Monuments At Night From a Red Roadster

This was just about the cutest thing ever, a small 5-passenger electric RED ROADSTER, driving us all around the city after dark. The route covered everything we still wanted to see (and some we’ve seen twice); but no crowds to contend with, just us and our guide.

First a drive through the entire Smithsonian complex, getting the story of each of the museums; then past the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial. We stopped at the FDR and MLK Memorials, and got a chance to walk along the Tidal Basin. Then past the WWI and WWII Memorials to the Lincoln Memorial; great views there of the Potomac River and the National Mall, sparkling in the dark. Throughout the trip the guide gave us stories of the city’s history; then past the White House, and on to Capitol Hill, really something to see at night.

Of course, this is a fictionalized version of what we COULD have done in a COVID-free world; in reality, DC is mostly closed, or masked with limited opportunities. But this is my NDI RTW;  imagining makes anything possible. Then let’s do that.



Originally published August 15, 2020 by Linda Lou Burton posting about Washington, DC from Little Rock, Arkansas – Early morning planning by the window again, pulling together ideas for today. It’s a rainy Saturday, so the Hop On Hop Off bus might work best. Yesterday turned out great, it was a TAXI day with “first things first.” The Embassy of Iceland is only open on weekdays, so that had to be a Friday thing. It is way over on K Street NW, and opened at 9; we got a taxi right after breakfast. Taxis are everywhere in DC, hovering near hotels, just waiting. We had a decent tour of the city on our first morning ride – down New York Avenue, onto Massachusetts, around the circle where New Hampshire and Connecticut cross. I asked our driver to keep going on Embassy Row so Kayla and Sam could see the other countries nestled here: Haiti, Korea, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Cameroon, Marshall Islands, Chad, Slovenia, Japan, India, Turkey, Oman, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Iran, Britian, Finland; it was dizzying, we could barely keep up. We circled the US Naval Observatory before heading south through Georgetown towards the Potomac, and the Embassy of Iceland. It’s in the House of Sweden, and represents Iceland vis-a-vis the United States, as well as Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay. “Here we are, back on Iceland soil again today, nice.” We let them know just how much we enjoyed visiting their country and signed the guestbook.

Taxi! Next stop Nationals Park. Our drive along the Potomac passed the Watergate, and the Kennedy Center; across the river was Arlington Cemetery, and Kennedy’s grave. Turning east we passed directly by the Lincoln Memorial; the Pentagon was to our right, across the river, the World War II Memorial and the Washington Monument on our left as we crossed over the Tidal Basin. Our driver kept up a running dialog but there was so much to see our pictures will be blurred. We turned south again and there was the Park.

Nationals Park is the home ballpark for the Washington Nationals, a National League East division team that’s been here since 2005. “They were the Montreal Expos before that,” Sam explained. This is a new park, opened in 2008; it seats over 41,000 and is the first LEED-certified green major professional sports stadium in the United States; it cost $784 million to build. (That we got from our tour materials.) In 2018 the Major League All-Star Game was played here; then last year it hosted games 3, 4, and 5 of the World Series, the first in DC since 1933! Games 6 and 7 were back in Houston, and the Nationals won all 7 games, defeating the favored Astros and securing their first title in franchise history. Yes, the team and Manager Dave Martinez were honored at the White House. The Park sits beside the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard neighborhood; the Washington Monument and the Capitol are visible from the upper decks on the first base side of the field. No games while we’re in town, but the tour was fun. https://www.mlb.com/nationals/ballpark

Taxi! Two miles to the Air and Space Museum. Last year 6.2 million visitors stopped in; it was the fifth most visited museum in the world, and the second in the United States. So wow! It’s all about aviation, spaceflight, planetary science, terrestrial geology, and geophysics. There are 23 galleries in the main museum; on display are 61 aircraft, 51 large space artifacts, and over 2,000 smaller items. Name dropping – the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia, the Friendship 7 capsule flown by John Glenn, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the Bell X-1 which broke the sound barrier, the model of the starship Enterprise used in the television show Star Trek, and the Wright brothers’ Wright Flyer airplane. The Wright Brothers papers are in the Museum of Flight in Seattle (they outbid the Smithsonian!). Sam’s Dad (Kayla’s Uncle) is affiliated with the production of Boeing planes at the big plant just north of where they both live; interesting to see the many Boeing exhibits here. The space craft was mind boggling in size; a lot of gazing up, plus IMAX® films on a five-story screen, and a quick cafeteria lunch. https://airandspace.si.edu/

Taxi! Tours of the Capitol begin in the Visitor’s Center on the east side now; I remembered that from my 2013 visit. Tours are free but you need an advance reservation, ours was for 3 PM. First a 13-minute intro film, then stops in the Rotunda. The Dome is encircled by murals, and the fresco on the eye of the ceiling is called The Apotheosis of Washington. The walls of the Rotunda have large paintings depicting significant events in American history such as The Signing of the Declaration of Independence. Other stops include the Crypt, National Statuary Hall, and connecting corridors of the Capitol, where there are statues representing every state. We got pictures beside the Washington and Arkansas statues. The Arkansas statues are of James Paul Clark and Uriah Milton Rose, both lawyers and politicians; the Washington two are Mother Joseph and Marcus Whitman. I visited their duplicates in the Olympia capitol with Kayla in 2012. https://capitalcitiesusa.org/?p=4667#more-4667 I’ve visited two state capitols with Kayla, the other was in Honolulu; and two with Sam; Juneau, Alaska and Jackson, Mississippi. Both have been to the Little Rock capitol with me, and now the US Capitol! Our guided tour didn’t include the Senate and House galleries, but we were able to make a quick walk-through to see where our state representatives and senators meet to conduct business. And debate. Live streaming is available when in session. https://www.house.gov/watch-houselive

Taxi! Our hotel for a rest before deciding on dinner. I was hoping the “roller skating waiters” French restaurant was still open; not so, it closed years ago. But Martin’s Tavern is still open, with this enticing blurb: A GEORGETOWN TRADITION. For almost nine decades, visiting guests, future presidents, senators, staffers, and stars have called Martin’s Tavern their home away from home. It’s where JFK proposed to Jackie, and where baseball greats including Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb, and Yogi Berra dined in the “Dugout Room.” Every president from Harry S Truman to George W Bush has come to dine, discuss, and relax while shaping the nation’s history. https://www.martinstavern.com/

While we enjoyed our salads and all manner of good solid American food we watched for any presidents since George W Bush to pop in. And shaped our own history, NDI RTW style.



Politics and Legacies

Originally published August 14, 2020 by Linda Lou Burton posting about Washington, DC from Little Rock, Arkansas – When asked what they most wanted to see in DC, Kayla answered: the National Air & Space Museum. Sam answered: a Nationals game, I go to a baseball game in every city I visit. My choice was the Capitol, I never tire of seeing it, outside and in. I’ve been going to DC since I was fourteen, back before everything was barricaded and closed to cameras. According to an old scrapbook, I visited the White House on June 14, 1953, when Ike and Mamie lived there, though I have no memory of “politics” then, except for the familiar “I Like Ike” slogan, surely one of the catchiest any candidate has ever had.

Eisenhower’s 1952 presidential win was a landslide, with an electoral margin of 442 to 89, ending a string of Democratic Party wins that stretched back to 1932. Eisenhower was the last president born in the 19th century, and the oldest president-elect at age 62 since James Buchanan in 1856. He was the third commanding general of the Army to serve as president, after George Washington and Ulysses S Grant, and the last not to have held political office prior to being president until Donald Trump entered office in January 2017.

We’ve hit DC in an election year, on this NDI RTW, and my 18-year-old grandchildren will be voting in a presidential election for the first time this November. What is important to take away from their visit to our national capital? The current buzz is awful, mean-spirited, and not particularly useful in helping anyone make good decisions. Have election-years ever been this bad before? The answer is – well, yes, they usually are.

For instance, not everybody liked Ike! Before, during, or after his presidency. The Wikipedia report of the life of Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) describes his many accomplishments, from his birth in Texas as the third of seven sons to photos of the 66 medals and awards he received from all over the world. Some of his official titles were Supreme Allied Commander and Operation Overlord, Military Governor in Germany and Army Chief of Staff, President of Columbia University and NATO Supreme Commander, President of the United States (1953–1961). Pretty lofty stuff.

Though his reputation declined when he left office – crictics dubbed him as “an inactive golf-playing president” – historian John Lee Gaddis summarizes how he may be remembered: He did, after all, end the Korean War without getting into any others. He stabilized, and did not escalate, the Soviet–American rivalry. He strengthened European alliances while withdrawing support from European colonialism. He rescued the Republican Party from isolationism and McCarthyism. He maintained prosperity, balanced the budget, promoted technological innovation, and facilitated (if reluctantly) the civil rights movement.

I’m reading about Ike on my laptop this morning, near the window of our hotel room that overlooks the city. We’re only three miles from the capitol, we saw it as we came in last night. Maybe I’ll mention some of Ike’s legacies to Sam and Kayla when they wake up, before we start our adventures. Both have visited the Civil Rights Museum in Little Rock with me, where the story of the integration of Central High is told. On September 4, 1957, the Arkansas National Guard was called in by the governor to “preserve the peace” by preventing the nine newly enrolled black students from entering the school. Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard and ordered them to support the integration, and held firm through the chaotic times that followed. Another legacy that might be of interest to Kayla: after Sputnik was launched by the Soviet Union in October 1957, Eisenhower created NASA as a civilian space agency and signed a landmark science education law. Kayla’s interest in the National Air & Space Museum is strong; she attended Space Camp a few summer’s back, and her school interests are science and math, classes that were not available, especially for girls, when I was a teen.

Two states were admitted to the Union during Eisenhower’s presidency; Alaska on January 3, 1959, the 49th state, and Hawaii on August 21, 1959, the 50th. I’ll remind Sam of our visit to the Alaska capital in 2012; we went back a second time just to get pictures of all the newspaper articles of “statehood day” and to see the short-lived 49-star flag. We talked about the fact that Eisenhower was the only president ever to serve under 49 stars. https://capitalcitiesusa.org/?p=5308#more-5308

I’ll tell them about “The Pledge of Allegiance” too; how it was changed in 1954 to add the words “under God;” something Eisenhower encouraged Congress to do because Communism was so feared in the country at the time. And then there is the legacy of the FREEWAYS! The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 authorized construction of “The The Dwight D Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.” How many miles of freeways we have in the country today I do not know; I do know that the longest stretch is I-90 that connects Boston and Seattle – 3,020 miles. I was living in Seattle when the very tail end of it was completed in the early 80s, in fact, I moved downtown to get away from the construction noise!

It’s getting noisy outside now, cars moving on a busy morning, and I still need to figure out how to get us to all the places we want to go. A baseball game is out; the Nationals are in Baltimore today, but maybe we can get a taxi to Nationals Field and at least tour the place. The National Air & Space Museum is about halfway between our hotel and the stadium; so is the Capitol, my plan is lining up.

Will we see Secret-Service black limos go whizzing by today? Campaign posters everywhere? Is POTUS in town?


Extremely Satisfied

Originally published August 13, 2020 by Linda Lou Burton posting about Reykjavik, Iceland from Little Rock, Arkansas – We did it! We actually did everything on the list that each of us wanted to do. Extremely satisfied. And now we’re on the plane, headed for Washington DC. I’ve got to sum it up, for history’s sake. Yesterday I rented a car; hey, steering wheel on the left, driving on the right, small town. The GPS gave me English, so getting around was a breeze. Drove 3 miles along the waterfront to breakfast, here’s how Wednesday went.

  • Kaffivagninn for breakfast; we called it the Kaff. Friendly place, boats to watch, birds; everybody ate eggs in some form, I loved the coffee. Note: Icelanders drink a lot of coffee, also a lot of Coke, the highest per capita consumption in the world! https://kaffivagninn.is/en/
  • Saga Museum next, it was right at the corner where we turned. It’s the VIKING Saga Museum, legends from the Icelandic sagas in 17 exhibits, wax historical figures like Leifur Eiriksson; an audio device to hang around your neck, select your language and go. At the end you can dress in Viking clothes and take pictures of yourself looking fierce. We did, it was interesting, and fun. https://www.sagamuseum.is/
  • Old Harbor Souvenirs for souvenirs; Whale Watching boats galore; a little walking on the Sculpture and Shore Walk, so pretty, and there we were at the famous Penis Museum. Of course we went in.
  • Icelandic Phallological Museum, the only museum in the world containing phallic specimens from all types of mammal found in a single country; 17 different kinds of whale, 7 different kinds of seal and walrus, and 20 different kinds of land mammal; in all, 209 specimens including Homo Sapiens. There are even 24 folklore specimens! Well organized museum; awards from Trip Advisor and others. https://phallus.is/en/
  • Icelandic Punk Museum was just a few blocks away. Another unique; NOT organized is part of its charm; it was once a public toilet; exhibits are in the former toilets and washbasins; photos, posters, instruments, streaming videos; the story of Icelandic punk. Pull-down headphones for listening to records; jackets to pose in with guitars and drums. Johnny Rotten was here for its opening in 2016. https://m.facebook.com/Bankastraeti0/

From Leif Erikson to Johhny Rotten in four miles! Time for a lunch break. “Well,” we agreed, still sort of dizzy, “we’re not likely to see any of that anywhere else.” That’s the “Guide to Good Sightseeing” rule. Nowhere else in the world. On to the food court.

  • Hlemmur Food Hall was busy, and we scattered to make our choices. One went for pizza at Flatey, two went to Skal for small plates, like vegan, and codcakes. Flatey’s wins Best Pizza awards year after year; everybody that ever eats at Skals agrees the food there is “to die for.” Everybody happy. Next? Harpa Tours happen only at 2 PM. We admired the Concert Hall from the outside earlier, now we want to see how it was built. On to Harpa. http://www.hlemmurmatholl.is/english
  • Harpa Concert Hall is home to the Symphony & Opera, it seats 1,800 and is 300,000 sq ft and 141 feet tall, an architectural masterpiece with an amazing glass façade. Its unique design was inspired by Icelandic forces of nature and the northern lights; tours go to places only performers get to see; learn about how it was built, the acoustics, the technology, and some of the great performances that have taken place here. Great photo ops, awesome. Underground, next. https://en.harpa.is/
  • Settlement Exhibition is an archaeological open excavation-museum; just below ground in downtown Reykjavík. Discovered during building work in 2001, the remains are the earliest evidence of human settlement here, with some dating to before AD 871±2. A 10th century longhouse is the focal point; the museum combines technology and archaeology with interactive multimedia tables explaining the excavations; a space-age panel allows you to steer through different layers of the longhouse construction. Very cool. https://reykjavikcitymuseum.is/the-settlement-exhibition
  • National Museum of Iceland covers Iceland’s history; the Settlement Era – including the rule of the chieftans and the introduction of Christianity –features swords, drinking horns, silver hoards, and a powerful bronze figure of Thor. The priceless 13th-century Valþjófsstaðir church door is carved with the story of a knight, his faithful lion and a passel of dragons. Modern-age displays too, and a smartphone audio guide to explain it all. A perfect fit after the archeology, but we are beat. To the hotel to rest and spruce up a bit before the One and Only Last Night’s Dinner at Grillmarket. https://www.thjodminjasafn.is/english/
  • Grillmarket reservation, 8 PM, they offer a Tasting Menu, chef’s selections served family style; and a Trip to the Countryside, with three of the most popular starters and then beef steak with fries and vegetables for everyone; then a taste of each of the desserts. TEMPTING, but our independent natures decided we’re rather ponder our choices. And we did, each to his own, oh my, delicious. https://www.grillmarkadurinn.is/en/

Thursday. A really good night sleep, the final desserts last night made sure of that. The sun came up at 5:14 this morning but we didn’t see it; we were still snoozing and it was raining. A lazy breakfast at the hotel in our picture-window breakfast lounge; pack the bags, load the car, and head for Perlan, and then the Blue Lagoon. Did we save the Best for Last?


Perlan, or The Pearl is Reykjavik’s # 1 attraction as a a Must-Visit Landmark. Now a “Nature Exploratorium” with a revolving glassdomed restaurant and observation deck, it sits in a forest atop Öskjuhlíð hill overlooking the city. We get tickets for everything; Wonders of Iceland & Áróra – Northern Lights Planetarium Show; the Wonders of Iceland exhibit shows Icelandic nature, glaciers, geysers, and volcanoes. There is also a timeline explaining how Iceland was formed and how life in Iceland evolved. We definitely want the Planetarium Show about Icelandic nature and the solar system. Perlan was opened to the public in 1991. The building is a story in itself; composed of an immense glass dome that sits on six hot-water tanks, each carrying 4 million litres of geothermal hot water. All of this is supported by a colossal steel frame, which serves important functions in addition to holding everything together. The framework, hollow on the inside, is actually a gigantic radiator. In the winter when it is cold, hot water runs through the frame, while cold water is used in the summertime. Of course we have lunch in the revolving restaurant, chewing slowly to be sure we make the full turn. And then a 40-minute drive to the Blue Lagoon. https://perlan.is/?lang=en

Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa in a lava field. It is a top attraction in Iceland too, nearly a million people a year wade and swim in its milky-blue mineral-rich 102-degrees waters. The lagoon is manmade; the water is a byproduct from the nearby geothermal power plant Svartsengi where superheated water is vented from the ground near a lava flow and used to run turbines that generate electricity. After going through the turbines, the steam and hot water passes through a heat exchanger to provide heat for a municipal water heating system. Then the water is fed into the lagoon. The water completely renews itself every 48 hours; the average pH is 7.5 and the salt content is 2.5%. Despite not being artificially disinfected, the water contains no bacteria, fungi, or plants. The Comfort Ticket covers our entrance fee, a silica mud mask at the mask bar, a towel, and a free drink. A Premium Ticket includes a bathrobe and lunch, but we are happy just floating in the warm waters enjoying the scenery. It IS otherworldly, as advertised, steam rising on this chilly day. What a relaxing place, after yesterday’s rush, but alas, we had a plane to catch. https://www.bluelagoon.com/

Keflavik International was just 20 minutes away. Our Iceland Air flight to Washington DC departed at 4:50 and lands at Dulles at 7:10 EDT. The sun sets at 8:04, just about the time we get to the Hyatt Place on New York Avenue; it is raining there too, and hot. I’ll be back on US soil for the first time in 26 days. That’s a good thing. But Iceland was truly the icing on the cake of my NDI RTW.

It’s hard to leave a country of such good natured, fun loving, happy people that it leads the world in the “I’m extremely satisfied with my life” factor!


Morgunmatur, Hádegismatur, & Kvöldmatur

Originally published August 12, 2020 by Linda Lou Burton posting about Reykjavik, Iceland from Little Rock, Arkansas – Food is one of the “most telling” measures of a country and its people. Nowadays food is shipped from continent to continent in a day; but food traditions handed down over time remain favored – steak and potatoes, or fava beans, or strictly fresh-caught fish. So today, what can we learn about Iceland from simply EATING? That means not only the food and its preparation, but the people we rub elbows with; the locals. I wanted us to have three entirely different food experiences today, while being comfortable within our own “food finickies” at the same time. What is the OLDEST restaurant in Reykjavik was my first question. If it has been around before “tourism” took hold, the locals must like it. The answer turned out to be a pretty good start for the day, with breakfast.

Morgunmatur, aka Breakfast

Kaffivagninn is the oldest operating restaurant in Iceland, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week. This restaurant started as a food truck in 1935; by the 50s it was a small building on wheels, big enough for 10 to 15 people and located right by the harbor. It was very popular with fishermen, opening early and closing late. In the early 60s the restaurant expanded in size; it soon became popular with students and truck drivers as well as fishermen. Since 1975 Kaffivagninn has looked about the same. Right there by the water, plain and simple, and enduring. A great (historic) way to start our day and a menu that will please the three of us. https://kaffivagninn.is/en/


  • BACON AND EGGS with toast and vegetables
  • DELUXE OATMEAL PORRIDGE with chia, apples, dates and berries
  • GRILLED SANDWICH with ham and cheese, add a fried egg
  • OMELETTE with toast and 2 toppings, ham, cheese, mushrooms, peppers, onions or tomatoes
  • SMOKED ICELANDIC SALMON with scrambled eggs, toast and vegetables
  • TUNA MELT on toasted sunflower seed bread with grilled cheese, with Dijon, apples, salad and jalapeño

Energy enough after breakfast to tackle at least three small museums in the Old Harbor area; time to watch the boats moving in and out of the harbor; time to watch for puffins, and listen to the sounds of the three languages taught in Iceland’s schools – Icelandic, English, and Danish, before getting hungry again, and ready for lunch. A FOOD COURT is one of the best ways I know to make sure each of the three of us are happy with the foods, and to mingle with the locals on their lunchtime break from work. Reykjavik has several food courts; I chose Hlemmur, with 10 vendors and this promo ALL KINDS OF FOOD, FOR ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE.

Hádegismatur, aka Lunch

Hlemmur Food Hall is the first of its kind in Reykjavik and is inspired by the great European food halls. It attracts a fun crowd especially during lunchtime, when it is booming with customers. On sunny days, people enjoy their food and beverages outside. With Neapolitan pizza, LA-style tacos, Danish sandwiches, fresh soups, Vietnamese cuisine, gourmet burgers, and specialties from the “2019 Michelin Bib Gourmand-awarded Skál,” there’s something for everybody! Open from 8 AM to 9 PM daily. http://www.hlemmurmatholl.is/english

  • BÁNH MÍ Vietnamese coffee and bánh mí sandwiches; crisp pickles, savoury meats, sriracha, and fresh aromatics; Davíð Viet Quoc’s secret family recipes passed down through generations.
  • Brauð & Co (Bread & Co); organic sourdough bread and buttery danishes; observe the bakers at work; ask about ingredients, methods, or the weather, every Icelander’s favorite subject!
  • FLATEY PIZZA Short delivery time, simple quality ingredients and delicate craftsmanship is the trademark; the outcome is naturally tasty and health conscious pizzas.
  • FUEGO L.A. style Tacos in Hlemmur Foodhall. Legendary fish tacos!
  • Kröst specializes in fine French wines, cured meats, and various grilled delicacies.
  • Micro Roast Te & Kaffi; all things coffee-related; a range desserts and snacks. Their fair trade coffee is shipped daily from their roaster at Aðalstræti only a few blocks away.
  • OSTERIA EMILIANA; an Italian restaurant inspired by Emelianan-Romagna region; specializes in real Lasagna and Focaccia bread.
  • SKÁL!; an experimental bar & restaurant with a focus on foraged Icelandic ingredients and local traditions.
  • TIL SJÁVAR & TIL SVEITA Traditional Icelandic food from the land and sea. Something delicious for the whole family.

Okay, that was fun. Are we in the mood for more museums? A nap? Probably both. Since we can sleep as late as we like tomorrow, a late, and luxurious dinner (true to Icelandic heritage) this evening; something really fancy for our “last night in Iceland.” And no looking at the right side of the menu. EVERYTHING in Iceland is expensive!

Kvöldmatur, aka Dinner

Velkomin á Grillmarkaðinn, or in English, Welcome to the Grillmarket. “Local” was the key word for me. Their promo: A close working collaboration with dedicated local farmers. The very best in local seasonal produce. Local products include lamb, beef, trout, quail, skyr, and honey. We highlight the origin of each product while using fire, smoke, fire logs, and coal. Our grill is custom made; the coals heat up to 1200 degrees Celsius; the food cooks crispy on the outside and remains juicy and succulent on the inside. The outcome is a culinary treat where Icelandic heritage and the modern age meet. Our menu is a magical fusion of tradition and modern cuisine. My comment: everything from beef to whale!  https://www.grillmarkadurinn.is/en/

In the Beginning

  • BEEF CARPACCIO Chili jam, sweet almonds, herb pesto and ruccola
  • BURRATA Icelandic artisan cheese from Skagafjörður region, rainbow tomatoes and almond pesto
  • CHICKEN WINGS Sweet soy dressing, smoked birch salt and lime
  • GRILLED PORK RIBS Grillmarket dressing, rice cakes, watercress and drizzled with honey
  • GRILLED PUFFIN Lightly smoked puffin, pickled bilberries and mushrooms
  • GRILLED WHALE STEAK Tender steak of whale, lime and soy vinaigrette
  • HORSE “WAGYU” TATAKI Apple, Cilantro, Crispy Jerusalem artichokes and miso vinaigrette
  • LOBSTER TEMPURA Chili mayonnaise, oats and roasted garlic
  • SHELLFISH SOUP Icelandic shrimps, mini scallops and langoustine
  • VEGETABLES, DEEP-FRIED IN CRISPY BATTER Mixed vegetables with organic Greek yogurt


  • GRILLED LAMB CHOPS Crispy potatoes, glazed carrots and spiced nut crumble
  • GRILLED MOUNTAIN CHAR Almond pesto, potato purée and caramelized onions from Vallanes
  • LIGHTLY SALTED COD Grilled apple purée, black garlic, langoustine salad and shellfish sauce
  • VEGAN PEANUT STEAK Our vegetarian choice is made from nuts, beans and seasonal vegetables

Big Steaks

  • BEEF TENDERLOIN The best part of the beef, the steak has been prepared to perfection and is very flavourful
  • HORSE TENDERLOIN The most tender part of the horse
  • PORTERHOUSE cut from the short loin and includes the tenderloin; the bone separating these muscles gives the steak its divine flavour
  • RIB EYE OF BEEF is a steak from the rib section with perfect marbling
  • STEAKS FROM ICELANDIC FARMERS served with mushrooms glaze, Grillmarket fries and pan fried vegetables
  • STEAKS FROM THE FARM MIÐEY We handpick our steaks from Miðey farm and the meat is aged for at least 35 days
  • TOMAHAWK STEAK, garlic potatoes, aspargus, broccolini and bearnaise sauce

On the Side

  • FRIED MUSHROOMS Chestnut mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and garlic
  • GARLIC POTATOES Deep fried and seasoned with garlic sauce
  • GRILLED CORN COB With Icelandic heart butter
  • GRILLMARKET FRIES Deep fried and seasoned with garlic and dill
  • PAN FRIED VEGETABLES Kale, carrots, mushrooms and parsnip root

Sweet Endings

  • BERRY CRUMBLE Mixed berries, crunchy oats and dulche de leche caramel
  • CHOCOLATE TART Toffee filled chocolate cake with salted caramel ice cream
  • DESSERT PLATTER Selection of desserts, exotic fruits, ice cream and sorbets
  • GRILLMARKET CHOCOLATE Mascarpone mousse, warm caramel and coffee ice cream
  • HOMEMADE ICE CREAM BLISS Exquisite ice cream and sorbets with four different flavors

Forgive any misspelled Icelandic words. And forgive the printing of entire menus. Consider them as an encyclopedia of food choices in Iceland!


This Is The One I Want!

Originally published August 11, 2020 by Linda Lou Burton posting about Reykjavik, Iceland from Little Rock, Arkansas – Yesterday we saw a lot of Reykjavik. We ate the famous hot dogs, we visited the Whales of Iceland museum, and we strolled the streets getting pictures of the street art (it really is everywhere) and the really pointy church; different styles of architecture for sure. We even had time to visit the US Embassy and register our names. But the hardest thing – we had to pick our next-day tour.

I’ve been on a submarine tour in Hawaii with Kayla (Yellow on the Submarine) https://capitalcitiesusa.org/?p=2424, and a circle-the-island tour and even an inside-the crater tour; and hula dancing of course. Sam and I spent a day with sled dogs and mushers in Alaska (Dog Day Afternoon) https://capitalcitiesusa.org/?p=4895, we also went whale watching (and saw whales!), and glacier spotting, driving every paved road in Juneau. Oh, a salmon fishery too. But we had ten days to play on those trips; here we’ve only got ONE FULL DAY to tour Iceland. And Iceland offers a literal buffet of touring opportunities. This tiny county with a population of 364,134 people and an area of 40,000 square miles is nothing short of unbelievable in “things to do.” There are Snorkeling Tours and Secret Lagoon Tours; Ice Cave Tours and Glacier Hikes; Kayaking, Snowmobiling, Horseback Riding and even just plain Sightseeing Tours. We quickly ruled out the Golden Circle Tour – it covers a lot of territory, circling the island, but it meant we’d spend a lot of time riding the bus.

Sam was interested in snorkeling; “Listen to this – Join one of our snorkeling tours to Silfra Fissure, the only place in the world where you can snorkel between two continental plates. Amazingly, there are places within Silfra where it is possible to touch the rock on either side.”

Snorkel between two continental plates!

Kayla spotted a hiking tour; “Listen to this – Hike to the colorful Highlands, a unique bubbling geothermal wonderland with caramel color peaks, soothing hot springs, rambling lava flows and clear blue lakes; located in Fjallabak Reserve in the remote highlands of Iceland.”

Hot Springs and Lava Flows!

They both shook their heads. Too hard to gather the underwater gear needed; too much time in one spot; hiking is slow; great tours, but too limited.

I really want to see the ice caves,” Kayla said then, scanning the list. “Listen to this — Katla Ice Cave (Under The Volcano) Tour. Jump in a Super Jeep, strap on your crampons and step into the mighty glaciers and ice caves of South Iceland. Hike across the Myrdalsjokull glacier, then visit the amazing blue and black ice cave of Kötlujökull glacier on Mt. Katla. Enchanting glaciers and mountains surround us along the way. We stop near the roots of Kötlujökull glacier and the view is otherworldly. Crampons and helmets on, a short walk to the opening of the ice cave. Beautiful layers of different colored ice and volcanic ash paint impressive stripes in the glacier. Your guide tells the history of the glacier, the ice cave and the area around it. Back out from the glacier we look for smaller accessible ice caves before returning to our super truck. Then we’ll swing by some majestic waterfalls — the Eerie waterfall of Skógafoss which is the inspiration to dozens of folklore tales. Hike up the right side of the waterfall to see the troll’s face that stares at the waterfall for all eternity after forgetting time and turning into stone. Stop at the stunning Seljalandsfoss waterfall, the one you can walk behind; it is located on the Seljalands River which flows from the famous volcano, Eyjafjallajökull! Back in Reykjavik around 8:00 p.m. Make sure to bring your camera! “

This is the one I want! said Kayla.

“Too much hiking,” Sam said. “Listen to this one — Combine Snowmobiling on Langjökul Glacier with an Ice Cave Exploration. Pickup up in Reykjavik or Gullfoss Café, head to Langjökull Glacier in the Icelandic Highlands in our super truck. From here you can see Eiríksjökull Glacier (the highest mountain in west Iceland), Hofsjökull Glacier and the Kerlingafjöll Mountains. Your certified glacier guide provides overalls, helmet and all the gear you need, gives you a safety briefing and snowmobile driving instructions. You are then ready to ride – your stunning 1-hour snowmobile ride takes you across Langjökull Glacier, the second largest glacier in Iceland; it feels like a magic carpet chase across the roof of majestic white land. Langjökull Ice Cave is a totally spellbinding stunner; this is ‘The White Glacier’ and the Ice Cave is  the most amazing bright jewel blue ice imaginable. The ice-ceiling above you resembles a brilliant blue river, the ice is so exceptionally translucent, it seems as though you are surrounded by pure blue-hued quartz crystal jewels. The ice around this ‘blue river´ is white, with unusual gray ‘zebra striping’ from the ash layers of various volcanic eruptions. Explore and photograph the cave and enjoy the rare and precious crystalline blue beauty of this amazing natural ice cavern. Outside, your trusty snowmobile is waiting, ready to skim you across Langjökull to our Snowmobile Base Camp and then Gullfoss Café, beside the famous waterfall.

This is the one I want! said Sam.

Meanwhile, I was doing my own plotting. Our ages are transposed – 18 and 81 — and so are our energy levels. I am way too claustrophobic to go into a cave of any kind, no matter how beautiful. My footing in too unstable to walk on ice, and even on an IMAGINARY RTW I can’t imagine wanting to drive a snowmobile. I wanted to see the countryside, especially the geothermals. But I didn’t want to sit on a bus with a lot of other tourists. “Listen to this,” I said. “Geothermal Iceland – Helicopter Tour. Geothermal pools, power plants, lava fields, craters & Reykjavik. Discover Iceland’s geothermal energy from the quiet and comfortable seat of a helicopter. Soar above the volcanic landscape, over geothermal pools and power plants, lava fields and craters. A brief landing to witness the raw, primeval energy rising up from the earth. Fly over the Hengill volcano, which is still active, as evidenced by numerous hot springs and fumaroles in the area. Stop here to see the hot springs, calcium-rich solfatara and boiling water running several feet under the earth’s surface, producing a multitude of steaming fumaroles all around. This volcano is an important source of energy for the country, which is utilized at the Nesjavellir and the Hellisheidi power stations, where groundwater is heated and distributed to the district. Our tour concludes after ascending over Reykjavik, with a great aerial overview of the colorful houses of the city.”

This is the one I Want! said Linda.

When we get back to our room tonight, what great stories we’ll have to share.

Iceland Day Tours  https://adventures.is/iceland/day-tours/


Picky Picky

Originally published August 10, 2020 by Linda Lou Burton posting about Reykjavik, Iceland from Little Rock, Arkansas – Limited days and limited energy coupled with almost unlimited daylight, how do you divide that? Sam and Kayla only have three nights in Reykjavik – meaning two full days, plus the time they are awake today, and most of Thursday, as our flight to Washington DC doesn’t leave till 6. A list of possibilities, three people. Strategy: each person picks three things they REALLY want to do. The other items remain in the pot, to be picked at random as time allows. Eating and sleeping are givens.

The airport. About 1.5 million people a year come through, five times the population of the entire country (Iceland 364,134, Reykjavik 122,853). Keflavik International holds the “Best Airport In Europe” award; it’s modern and easy to get around. It’s also easy to get where you’re going next – every time a flight arrives, a shuttle bus is waiting to take passengers directly to their hotel downtown! By the time we finished our 45-minute ride to our rooms at the Hilton Nordica, I knew I was in for a busy day. They weren’t tired, and they both had already picked their three! The hotel. A family executive suite with access to the lounge-with-a-city-view for complimentary breakfast, and access to the spa any time; plus, windows that OPEN. Fresh air! Within walking distance of everything downtown; they can get out and go with ease.

My own agenda is simple: I want to explore the town, because it is a capital city, and I want to explore the countryside, because of the geysers. I want to see Parliament Building, and I want to take Kayla and Sam into the US Embassy, because just by stepping inside the door, you are technically “back on US soil” and I want them to experience the concept of political boundaries. When we get to Washington DC I intend to do the same with the Iceland Embassy there. Back in Iceland again!

Another must do for me, Hallgrimskirkja Church. This Lutheran church is one of the most recognizable buildings in Iceland; something you might see in Lord of the Rings. Modern art inside, an elevator to the top, awe-inspiring panoramic views of the city. Every night, lights illuminate the church and the statue of Leif Erikson (he’s credited for discovering America almost 500 years before Columbus, you know).

I also want to get a hot dog at the place every famous person who goes to Iceland eats — Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (translated best hot dogs in town); its signature hot dog called “ein með öllu” hot dog (the one with everything) is a lamb-based hot dog covered in ketchup, mustard, fried and raw onion and remoulade, a sweet mayonnaise dressing. And I want to order Hákarl somewhere; that is fermented shark – shark meat cured with a particular fermenting process, then hung outside to dry for four to five months. At least I want to poke at it with my fork.

What choices did Sam and Kayla make? These cousins are both 18; he likes sports and swimming and she is a poetry-loving mountain hiker; she is interested in astronomy and he is interested in the way things are built; he’s a meat eater and she’s a vegetarian. I think they both like music. This should be fun! Here’s the list, minus my picks; great variations in time and planning needed.

  • Adventure Tours from Reykjavik, a varied selection of adventure and sightseeing tours. Hiking, caving, diving, snorkeling, glacier hiking, whale watching, super jeep tours, volcano tours, snowmobiling.
  • Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa located in a lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula, supplied by water used in the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power station. The water is rich in salts and algae, water temperature 99-102. One of the most visited attractions in Iceland.
  • Geothermal Swimming Pools, Reykjavík is built on the top of several geothermal springs. There are 14 swimming pools in Greater Reykjavík.
  • Harpa Concert Hall, award-winning architecture; over 10 million guests since opening in 2011; chosen one of the best concert halls of the new millennium by the prestigious music magazine Gramophone magazine. Tours include a musical performance in an exclusive area with breath-taking views; the musical performance provides an overview of Icelandic musical history, from medieval to modern pop.
  • Iceland’s Famous Ice Caves, stunning man-made ice caves inside Langjökull Glacier – Europe’s 2nd largest glacier, Hraunfossar Waterfall and Deildartunguhver – Europe’s most powerful hot spring. Lunch included and travel to the cave includes a trip inside an 8-wheel monster truck.
  • Old Harbor, a stunning selection of fish and steak restaurants, cafés, and an atmosphere which resembles the city’s close relationship with the sea; all of the whale watching, fishing, puffin watching, and Northern Lights boat tours depart from here.
  • Perlan, a glass dome resting on five water tanks on a hill houses a museum and restaurant; Wonders of Iceland & Áróra – Northern Lights Planetarium Show includes the Wonders of Iceland, a real indoors ice cave, a 360° Observation deck, Water in Icelandic nature, and Áróra – Northern Lights Planetarium Show.
  • Punk Museum, Icelandic punk-rock history glued to the white tiles of a former underground public latrine; the exhibition is tiny, disorganized and overwhelming. Spend time by the record players – where the infamous Rokk í Reykjavík album is featured – or play the instruments.
  • Reykjavík Street Art, Reykjavík is famous for its vibrant street art scene. Urban graffiti and sophisticated wall poems appear on every third building downtown, hundreds of pieces scattered over the city.
  • Sun Voyager, a metal statue resembling a Viking longboat; sits on the seashore in Reykjavík, a great photo location with its view of Mount Esja on the other side of the bay; one of the most visited sights in Reykjavík.
  • Whales of Iceland Museum, 23 man-made life size models of the various whale species in Icelandic waters; an 82 ft long blue whale, a full-size sperm whale, the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale and many more, all actual size.

You pick, I pick, we all pick.


Time Travel

Originally published by Linda Lou Burton posting about Reykjavik, Iceland from Little Rock, Arkansas – I made it to Reykjavik before dark last night. Way before dark, in fact, as the sun doesn’t set here until 10 PM and I arrived at 7. And I only changed two time zones, so sleep patterns weren’t affected that much. Everything else was affected though; as anticipated – temperature was the first thing I noticed. Highs of 95 in Cairo, and throat-parching dry; it’s 57 here, and rainy this morning. But I like cool better than hot, and “cool with rain” is fairly normal for the kids, coming from Seattle. But their sleep-brain will surely take a hit! Iceland Air flies non-stop from Seattle to Reykjavik in 8 hours. And, Reykjavik time is 7 hours ahead of Seattle time. So do the math: if they got on their plane at 7 PM Sunday, it was 2 AM Monday in Reykjavik, and I was fast asleep. When I meet their plane at 10 this morning, their brain will likely be saying, “Leave me alone! It’s only 3 AM!”

Or maybe they’ll be excited. Kayla was taken to the Philippines when she was a baby, but has no memories of that. And for Sam, it’s his first trip beyond US soil. They were both enthusiastic about my graduation-gift invite; pleased as punch, and (until COVID-19 shut us down and turned our trip into Now Defunct Imaginary) raring to go. Maybe it was the hype I sent them. After all, most people don’t know much about Iceland. Do you?

Reykjavik: Quick & Quirky Facts

  • Reykjavik is the northernmost capital of a sovereign state in the world.
  • Reykjavik is among the cleanest, greenest, and safest cities in the world.
  • Reykjavik was the first permanent settlement in Iceland in 874 AD.
  • Reykjavik means “smoky bay,” referring to the steam rising from the hot springs and geothermal vents.
  • Reykjavik is the only Western European capital without a Starbucks or a McDonald’s.
  • Reykjavik is the only capital city in the world that is home to a puffin colony.
  • Reykjavik is mostly a cat city, as dogs were banned from 1924 to 1984.
  • Reykjavik has a penis museum called the Icelandic Phallological Museum.

Quirky indeed! And after just leaving one of the most dangerous capital cities in the world, I must say I feel relaxed about bringing my grandkids to one of the safest. Iceland has been near the top of the list of safest countries in the world for decades and Reykjavik has topped the list of safest cities. The crime rate here is unbelievably low; scams, racism, homophobia, violence, and sexual harassment are almost nonexistent. Still, when most folks hear the word “Iceland” they imagine a cold, unfriendly place. Nothing could be further from the truth! It may lie almost within the Arctic Circle, but the North Atlantic Current warmed by Gulf Stream waters makes the climate of Iceland more temperate than most places with similar latitudes. And the easy-to-access scenery is stunning — waterfalls, glaciers, ice caves, volcanic peaks, geysers, geothermal pools, and the sea, so close.

Things That May Surprise You On An August Visit

  • Does the sun set in Iceland in August? From mid-May to mid-August the sun only sets for only a few hours per day, and it is effectively light for the whole 24-hour period.
  • What does Iceland feel like in August? August is one of the warmest months of the year in Iceland. The average daily temperature hovers around 50-59°F, but it can leap up to 77°F.
  • Is it worth going to Iceland in August? Absolutely! August is the perfect time to be visiting Iceland, especially if you like adventures, local events and outdoor activities.
  • Can you see the northern lights in Reykjavik in August? The northern lights are visible in August, but since it never gets properly dark it’s the wrong time for good viewing.
  • Do you need insect repellent in Iceland? Iceland is completely free of mosquitoes, and ants, though small midges thrive in the summertime, especially by lakes and streams.
  • Are there any dangerous animals in Iceland? No, and there are no snakes in Iceland. Don’t bother the eggs in bird nests though, you may get pecked.
  • What is a typical breakfast in Iceland? Yogurt, berries, fruit, eggs, cheese, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes, pancakes, sourdough bread, and Icelandic butter. Juice, coffee, tea.
  • Do you need cash in Iceland? The currency in Iceland is the Icelandic króna (ISK). Many places take US dollars, but Icelanders usually pay for everything by credit or debit card.
  • Is tipping in Iceland an insult? Tipping is not customary in Iceland. The server’s wages are sufficient and they don’t expect it. If you want to give someone a tip, by all means do.

Tipping an insult! The server’s wages are sufficient! What a country! Well, it’s time to go to the airport to meet Kayla and Sam and see if they’re awake enough to have some fun. I’ve already sent them a list of 15 things to choose from. I expect food may be their first concern though. Since FISH takes up the most space on restaurant menus (and neither of them care for fish), they will be surprised to learn that the humble HOT DOG is so popular in Iceland it is the unofficial national food. Bill Clinton tried one when he was here!