Despite the restrictions imposed by our oldest son’s university work term calendar, we squeezed in a two-week summer holiday. We opted for Iceland, even though we knew going in we most likely wouldn’t see northern lights, that ice caves would be off limits and that we would probably be sleeping through golden hour each night and morning. But we also knew we’d be able to take advantage of Iceland’s long summer days by scheduling some long day hikes.
So on a mid-July Saturday afternoon we drove to Edmonton, parked in long-term parking and caught an early evening direct, non-stop Iceland Air flight to Reykjavik. After six hours of flying, we landed early Sunday morning at Keflavik International Airport. By the time we collected our checked bags, cleared customs and drove into the city it was coming up on 8 o’clock.
We approached the reception desk at our pre-booked hotel with our fingers crossed, hoping at least one of our two rooms was available for early check in. It was! But with only one large bed for the four of us, we opted to drop our luggage, forego any nap, head out in search of coffee and snacks, and then carried on to a geocaching event taking place on the grounds of Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland.
Despite the fact it was July 20th, by the time the geocaching event wrapped up we were cold! Our teen boys didn’t even argue when we suggested heading back to the hotel to layer up.
As soon as we were out of the chill wind, jet lag hit. Although it was a little cozy, we all flaked out – four across the bed – for a 90 minute nap, enough to power us through to bedtime.
Dressed more warmly, we headed back out around 12:30. After a quick lunch, we walked to Lækjartorg Square to locate Hlolli Sigurdsson, founder of Free Walking Tour Reykjavik. Hlolli led our group of about 20 tourists on a 90 minute walk past some of the most significant buildings in Reykjavik, regaling us with stories of Icelandic history and culture. We really enjoyed the walking tour and recommend it as a good way to get acquainted with Reykjavik and Iceland.
After the walking tour we headed to the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre for an extended photography stop, including a thorough exploration of the interior.
In one alcove of the Harpa, we discovered a light and liquid sculpture.
After an hour or two at the Harpa, we walked along a pathway parallel to the shore, stopping now and then to find a geocache or photograph a sculpture. One of our longest stops was at the very popular Sólfar (Sun Voyager) sculpture. We were patient though, and eventually managed a family photograph thanks to our little Joby Gorillapod and the 12 second delay on Mr. GeoK’s camera shutter.
Graffiti, public art, and a variety of buildings made for some great street photography.
Towards the end of our holiday we were back in Reykjavik for a couple of nights. One evening we walked to a viewpoint across the harbour to make even more photographs of the Harpa, mostly from a quirky public art installation called “Thufa” (translates to “Mound” or “Tussock”). The piece was created by visual artist Ólöf Nordal.
We continued to wander the streets near the old harbour. The boys took some time to photograph the Eve Online sculpture.
We also noticed a wide range of boats and even a couple of jellyfish.
Other notes for next time include:
- Don’t stay in central Reykjavik. Although it was find the first night (a Sunday night), we found the night life was loud and carried on until about 4 in the morning on Friday and Saturday nights, making it pretty much impossible to sleep, even with earplugs!
- Spend a good couple of days in Reykjavik to enjoy more street photography, attend a performance at the Harpa, and visit the National Museum.
If you live in Iceland or have spent more than a couple of days in Reykjavik, what have we missed?
Stay tuned for several more posts about our summer adventures in Iceland.