Archive for August 13th, 2020

 

Extremely Satisfied

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

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!