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Reykjavik, Iceland


With a combination of beautiful volcanic scenery & a friendly folk possessing a creative spirit, Reykjavik is a city full of cultural energy, a vibrant night life & just happens to be the worlds greenest city producing all of its own hot water, heating & electricity.

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No other country has captured my imagination more than Iceland. Its natural beauty is impossible to put into words & to do it justice with pictures can be a real challenge at times too. The island’s capital city Reykjavik is small with just 120,000 inhabitants. The Icelanders themselves are a very friendly & cultural people, their hospitality world renowned. My couple of visits to the city have been after a few weeks exploring the more uninhabited parts of the island where you can go days without seeing another person, where provisions are bought from isolated gas stations rather than from huge supermarkets, where the sleeping bag & tent are the 5-star hotels along the way. Once you have spent some time in the wilderness & witnessed some of those beautiful locations you want more but at some stage we all have to leave & Reykjavik is a sort of rehabilitation center to prepare one for that “civilized life” again.


This was the idea behind Guðjón Samúelsson’s design of the church in 1937.  It took 41 years to erect the church with construction commencing in 1945 with completion in 1986. The  tower was actually completed long before the church was finished.


I take it that these plates are to inform the visitor that this is a reserved parking space for church officials only.


Leif Ericsson, a Norse explorer born in Iceland was the first known European to have discovered continental North America (excluding Greenland), before Christopher Columbus. He established a settlement at Vinland at the northern tip of Newfoundland in the year 1,000 A.D., some 500 years before Columbus.


Hallgrímskirkja was designed by the late Guðjón Samúelsson in 1937, who was often inspired in his endeavours by the fascinating shapes and forms created when lava cools into basalt rock. Construction of the church began in 1945 and ended in 1986.


The Hallgrímskirkja in the centre of Reykjavik is Iceland’s highest church with 73 m & can be seen everywhere in the area. Here we see the main portal.


Kjalarnes used to be an independent district until it joined Reykjavik in 1998 & is with just 600 inhabitants the least populated district of the city. The view we have here is of the Esja volcanic mountain range with a height of 914 m.


Opened 4th May 2011 the Harpa is Reykjavik’s prestige concert hall featuring a distinctive coloured glass facade inspired by the basalt landscape of the country.  Due to the financial crisis in 2008 construction was stopped after just one year & completion was uncertain until the Icelandic government stepped in to finance its completion.


The Viðey Church is the second oldest church in Iceland, built in stone in the 12th century. The church is located on a small island of the same name opposite the Sundahofn harbour in Reykjavik.

“The United States strongly opposes Iceland’s defiance of the commercial whaling ban. We urge Iceland to cease international trade of whale meat and work with the international community to safeguard whale species. It is troubling that Iceland continues to pursue commercial whaling outside the boundaries of the IWC, without member oversight or analysis by the Commission’s scientific committee.”

― U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke


The AIDA Aura was the third passenger liner taken into service by the German cruise line & was built in 2003 by Aker MTW in Wismar. The liner has 12 decks in total, is propelled by diesel-electric engines, has a maximum speed of 19.4 knots (35.9 km/h; 22.3 mph), a capacity of 1300 passengers & has a crew of 418.


The mid-class passenger Liner MS Adriana started her life under the name Aquarius & was built for a Greek shipping company in 1972. Since 2015 she is under ownership of Adriana Cruises.


A walk around the harbour is like stepping back in time. Amongst whaling boats & freighters you will find here & there a gem or two from the past like this wooden fishing boat for example.


The Icelandic company Hvalur H/F dates back to 1948 & has 4 catcher vessels specializing in catching Fin Whales for export to Japan. After harpooning & binding the whale to the side of the boat the processing of the meat takes place at Hvalfjörður in northern Iceland at a shore station.


Looks like quite a bit of work needs to be carried out before this boat gets back into service.


Reykjavik harbour has some great views of the water, boats & the islands of Engey & Viðey. It also has a number of small fish restaurants and tourist excursions like puffin tours and whale watching.


The harbour isn’t so spectacular what its size is concerned but the view out to sea past the colourful boats to the islands of Engey & Viðey on a sunny day is splendid.


A colourful mixture of boats in all matter of sizes and  functionality are to be observed in the harbour. Private yachts & fishing boats are moored amongst excursion boats offering puffin & whale sightseeing trips to small freight vessels & fish factory ships.


A couple of the more modern fishing boats moored in the harbour of Reykjavik & some locals fishing for their lunch.


Sculpture `Looking Seawards` by Ingi Þ. Gíslason on the Geirsgata road.


An impressive mosaic from Ger∂ur Helgadóttir created in 1973 can be admired on a long wall not far from the harbour (Tolhus or Customs House on Hafnarstræti).


In the city centre there is normally a number of buskers doing their thing. Most of these acts come from foreign shores, people busking their way around the world.

“Maybe it’s just a personal thing, but I get so much grounding from Iceland because I know it’s always going to be there. I have a very happy, healthy relationship with the country, so it’s really easy to go everywhere because I always have Iceland to go back to.”

― Bjork


This was unfortunately my only encounter with a viking or a troll after 3 weeks in Iceland. By the look of that sword & his evil grim though I can probably count myself lucky.


Taken into service in 1992 the pipe organ of the capital’s cathedral Hallgrimskirkja built by the German organ builder Johannes Klais of Bonn  is 15 metres tall and weighs in at 25 tons.


Most people think that the Sun Voyager is the depiction of a viking boat which isn’t true at all. Sun Voyager was essentially envisaged as being a dreamboat, an ode to the sun symbolizing light and hope.


Iceland hasn’t a good image when it comes to whaling bans with many petitions & much criticism from international governments to stop the slaughter. Iceland’s return to commercial whaling was announced on May 27, 2013. Fin Whales are caught for food restaurants in Japan whilst Mink Whale are hunted exclusively for national consumption.


Iceland is becoming increasingly popular as a stopover destination for more & more luxury passenger ships bringing much needed revenue & work to the financially weak economy.


Another view of probably Iceland’s best known landmark, the Sun Voyager or as it is known in Iceland ‘Sólfarið’.


The promenade running parallel to the Sæbraut road in northern Reykjavik is a favoured stroll for travellers & locals alike taking in harbour views & the Sun Voyager sculpture. The view we have here is westwards from the Sun Voyager to the recently built Harpa concert & conference centre opened in May 2011.


The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland, also known as the National Church is the official Christian church in Iceland & professes to the Lutheran faith. The church is organised into one diocese headed by the Bishop of Iceland who is currently Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir, the first woman in history to hold this position.


Here we have a view of the Greenlandic fishing trawler Skalaberg built in 2003 & based in Qaqortoq moored in Reykjaviks inner harbour early in the evening.


In a side street just meters from the Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjaviks Lutheran cathedral I found this rather quaint house on the corner with brightly coloured facade. Could have been a decision to combat the depressive Winter I could imagine.


The Sun Voyager concepted from artist Jón Gunnar Árnason was unfortunately erected a year after his death from Leukaemia in 1986.


Jón Gunnar Árnason’s Sun Voyager situated on the northern promenade of Reykjavik makes a nice figure at night too reflecting the street lights with the cold blue Atlantic in the background.


The Icelandic cathedral is Reykjaviks best known landmark, visible from all parts of the city. Construction began in 1945 & the structure was inaugurated 41 years later in 1986.


In 1986 Jón Gunnar Árnason won a competition to install a new sculpture on the city promenade commemorating the 200th anniversary of Reykjavik.

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Did You Know?

Located at 64°08‘N, Reykjavik is just two degrees south of the Arctic Circle. The darkest days of winter are both very dark and very long. At the winter solstice, on December 21, daylight lasts for only 4 hours in the world’s most northern capital city.

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