Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Iceland is a nice land

We spent the last few days of 2016 having a lovely Christmas holiday in the Boston area and, after ringing in the new year, it was time to start heading back to Sweden. However, this time we decided to have a bit of an adventure and so we have stopped off in Iceland for a few days to explore. Sam has done a great job planning, and as long as the weather cooperates, we should be set to create a mini Saga of our own.

We landed early on Tuesday morning, and met up with the agent from the rental car place. The roads can be quite icy and challenging at this time of year, and we'll put in some solid driving in the next days, so we had opted for a 4 wheel drive jeep style car. It's a giant beast of a vehicle, but it got us to  Reykjavik without incident, and we headed straight to the AirBnB to get a few more hours of real sleep. Into bed at 7, and then awake again at 11, about the same time the sun rose.
Two minute walk to the very windy coast

Our day was spent moseying around the town taking lots of pictures, interspersed with plenty of breaks to warm up our fingers again before removing the gloves to take another batch of photos. It was a great day for walking around the city, clear and relatively warm!

Another nice panorama along the coast

We visited a chocolate factory OmNom, and tasted lots of good chocolate. Malted white chocolate with Sea Salt and Caramel is delicious. The lakkrís (licorice) flavored chocolate was also surprisingly good. Things are pretty expensive here, so we limited our buying to just a couple of bars, and headed back out into the wild. We may have stopped to get both ice cream and coffee/chai, meaning that our day was fueled mostly with sugary goodness.We did a lot of window shopping and browsing as we worked our way over to the very impressive and iconic Hallgrímskirkja. One of the placed we visited was a fantastic photography gallery, where we saw a print of the statue of Leif Eriksson - erected in front of the church - that we both liked and tried our best to capture the same composition in our own shots.

The employees get to invent their own flavors that sometimes get sold in the shop

Now that's a striking viking!

Popular spot to snap a few photos
The sun was starting to set as we reached the Harpa concert house, giving us a lot of chances to try to capture a gorgeous sunset reflected in the glass exterior to the building.

Christmas decorations were still up

Dinner was at a very cozy bistro that came recommended, and we paged through the guide book as we ate burgers and fries (seems safer than some of the traditional Icelandic foods, such as Svið = sheep's head or Súrir hrútspungar = sour ram's testicles). We next ventured out to a local swimming pool in our neighborhood to relax in a pool of geothermally heated water. The little community pool had a few lanes for swimming laps, a large warm pool for kids to play in, and several heated pools for relaxing and gazing up at the stars. It was neat to sit outside in a hot tub at 40 degress Celsius and look at the digital display showing the outdoor temp hovering just about 0.

Lots of street art and murals everywhere

The last little venture for the day was to try to get out of the light pollution in the city to try to see the aurora. We drove out a ways on the peninsula and parked with a mass of other like minded tourists, and despite ducking the lights of the city, we did not see any northern lights because the clouds had moved in and seemed to be ready to settle in for the night. Taking that cue, we also headed home and are putting ourselves to bed. Tomorrow we venture out of the capital (Reykjavik is the northernmost capital city in the world, at 64 degrees N lattitude) and head east along Rt. 1.

Many come to visit this city. I guess some are a bit more destructive


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